Archive for the ‘Travel diary’ Category

DAY 32.

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

During my visit in Iron River, nothing was about contemporary Finland or Finnish culture. It is about heritage that Betty and her siblings want to pass on to the next generations. I find this fascinating. It is a reflection of Finnish culture from the past and nothing has changed. I eat food that is said to be traditionally Finnish. I have never heard of it. People don’t need to know what is going on in Finland now, because it is a country that doesn’t really exist to them. Why should it?

Iron Country Museum is a pleasant visit. It is very coherent museum with also outdoor exhibits. Many volunteers have spend hundreds of hours moving and setting up buildings in the museum area. I hear a story how Carrie Jacob Bonds house was moved to the museum area and while moving it, money was collected from people on the streets. You could really see how your money moved the house inch by inch towards the museum.

We visit Kangas old farm. Jack gives me his mother cap she used to wear at work. I promise to take it to Finland where Jack’s mother never got to visit again after she immigrated. I will take a picture of the cap in some nice place.

I took many photographs of Jack trying capture his thoughtful eyes that can really see you as a person. I wasn’t doing very well. But then we went to Kangas Bay. It was the very last picture I took – and it was the one.

DAY 31.

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Betty, her grandchild Amanda and her brother Jack come to pick me up to Iron River. We stop by the saw mill first, because forestry is an important living in the area. The next stop is Crystal Falls where Betty’s and Jack’s mother came by train when she immigrated to the country. The stories are many as we drive trough the town and visit a monument for Finnish immigrants in the yard of the City Hall. There is a city archive from Iron River in the City Hall – the story goes that somebody got the clerks drunk in Iron River and stole the archive.

Jack wants to introduce me to everyone we meet on our way. And people seem to be quite happy to talk with someone who is from Finland. I doesn’t matter who we meet, everyone seems to have Finnish descent.

Iron River was a mining town and is suffering deep depression. The mines are still working but the process of the mining have developed and needs less work force. There are a lot of houses for sale in the town and some buildings are basically ruins. Churches are many, too. Each nationality that immigrated to US had their own church and the masses were in their own language. People don’t go to churches that much anymore and all of the churches are English speaking nowadays.

We do an interview in Betty’s wonderful log cabin in the evening. The situation is new to me, because there are four people to interview at the same time: Betty, Betty’s sister Faye, Jack and Jack’s son Rich. Betty is a person to whom everybody want to come to. Door opens and closes, people come and go. I try to adjust to the situation, but as an introvert person, I don’t necessarily keep up with the discussions all the time when there are so many people. I feel longing: I’m not sure if I have this close, warm family at home or belonging to a community. I’ve always walked alone, I suppose. But I wish I would have people visiting me when I’m 73 years old like Betty.

DAY 30.

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

We do interview with Elsa and discuss a little on how to get trough the surface of one’s identity. It is easy to say “I like pulla” but what does immigration generation identity mean deeply in emotional level?

There is a shop called Touch of Finland in Marquette. I have never visited Finnish souvenir shop outside of Finland. It feels strange. We buy a DVD Tradition Bearers and watch it in the evening. It is an old documentary (1983) about Finnish immigrants in Michigan, but it is very entertaining. All the people in it should be characters in a theater play!

DAY 29.

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Ride

I take a train to NYC early in the morning. I chat a bit with a granny next to me, but to be honest, I don’t feel a least bit of talkative. Every person is a new door, but sometimes I just can’t. A taxi driver in NYC happens to be a scientologist Jeffrey. He gives me a presentation about his beliefs and how scientology suits with any religion I might have. It is based on interdisciplinary facts. Jeffrey tells me he can make miracles and I’m tempted to believe that when I see him navigate so naturally in NYC traffic while concentrating fully on our discussion. I, too, think there is a sleeping devil in all of us and it’s awaken by negative energy. This is why we should always seek for the positive energy. But I also wonder, how do you know which is which? How is the devil defined? If I’ve understood correctly Buddhism teaches everything is just existing thoughts and actions that come and go – some of them are better for you than the others.

I have never been in a private jet before in my life. Elsa tells that having a private jet is not common – surprise me, I just thought this is US. No security checks on luggage, nice pilots and snacks to eat. My fear of flying didn’t bother me at all. Ford airport in Michigan is like November in Finland. The sky is gray over the forests. Finland illusion continues when we get to Elsa’s and David’s place. The whole house is full of Finnish design. The contrast is huge compared to my travel so far. But I think it is also a good for my work to see this. Finnish immigrants came to the area partly because it looks a bit like home country – but of course the biggest reason was the jobs.

DAY 28.

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Flag

I take a metro to Pentagon to meet William (Viljami). It is amazing to visit the building and I get a special tour, because Viljami works there as a civil engineer. We also visit the place where the plane hit in 911. Pentagon is full of paintings, art works and collections related to military. It would take days and days to go trough them all. This big office building is like a city of its own with gyms, running tracks, swimming hall, shops, restaurants etc. Only thing missing is a hotel.

The idea that this is the place where it all starts – the functions of war – overwhelms me. Viljami says Iraq war has been very difficult. Everybody agrees with that, I think. We have very nice discussions while touring around the building and drinking a lot of coffee. Viljami, Eteläpohojammaan Viljami, Lurjus is an easy man to make friends with. And our heritage is so close in Finland: mine from North and his from South Ostrobothnia. He thinks there are two great powers in the world US and South Ostrobothnia.