She writes western stories set on the prairies of Saskatchewan, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. Anita Mae is represented by Mary Keeley of Books & Such Literary Agency.
This is Part 2 of the memoirs of Anita Mae's Finnish grandmother. Read Part 1 here.
Mamma's Memoirs Part 2
by Anita Mae Draper
In her memoirs, Mamma glossed over some of the facts that had a profound impact on her life... things she mentioned repeatedly as we were growing up... things she didn't want to forget. And so for those times, I'm including additional notes written by Mamma's eldest daughter, Taimi, who is my mother's sister.
Mamma had a Finnish accent and although she spoke English well, she those words ending in 'ed' as a separate syllable. Thus walked became walk-ed, etc. In the same fashion, we pronounced her name with a deep emphasis on the word 'mum' then carried the 'm' for a beat before completing the 'ma' and cutting the 'a' off sharply, as in Mummmm-ma. And Pappa is pronounced with the accent on the first part too, so it becomes, Pup-pa.
We left off at the end of Part 1 with Mamma (Tyyne) on the brink of adulthood...
My Sister Aino asked me to go with her to visit our auntie's place. So we went...
.....And I found a man there.
We wrote letters every week. He came to give me a ring. I was working in a new place for only one month, when he came in November with his mom to marry me.
We took skis and traveled a long distance to Aimo's sisters' place. She owned some money to Aimo for the work he had done earlier for her. We took the train to Suojarvi. Our cousin Evert Leivo lived there. Leivos' had a new house, only two rooms were ready. So we
slept in the attic. They didn't charge us for rent. We worked at the sawmill--but one morning in July we found the sawmill burned down. Only ashes and chunks of iron were left.
Everyone hurried to other sawmills to be hired, but we bought nice clothes and went back to Aimo's home. They welcomed us, because it was haying time. We ate a lot of fish. Next winter my husband and his brother August went out to look for work. They found work at Suojoki and rented an apartment. My husband called for me to join them and cook for
them. However, his family didn't like to let me go. But I walked to the railway station on the second day of Christmas to join my husband. So we travelled back and forth until 1929. Now there was no more work anywhere.
My First Child--And the Trip to
Our cousin and my husband came to Canada in spring 1930. Leivo's family came in July. Hildo sold their house and left some money in a bank in Helsinki. I didn't know anything about the money. I had my baby two weeks after my husband had left for Canada. It was stillborn.
Aunt Taimi wrote about this time in Mamma's life:
You must remember after Tyyne Vasarainen & Aimo Johannes Kakkonen were married in Finland, that was very poor times... Mr. Evert Leivo wife Hilda had already gone to Canada,& promised Pappa that they will find him work there as Barber as Pappas profession was cutting hair & photography. So after some time Pappa received a ticket - ( for 1). Mamma was left in Finland, pregnant. All the women said that they all lost their husbands that way, and they never came back !!
Mamma cried so much that she lost her baby girl, naming her Taimi.
I was sick for a while. Summertime I worked for farmers, but prepared to go after my dear Aimo to Canada. I had very little money left, but I made it to Helsinki.
I went to the Scandinavian Line office and said: "I am ready to go to Canada."
A man said: "How much money do you have?"
"I don't have any money."
"Why didn't your husband send money?"
"He doesn't have any."
"Don't you have anyone else there?"
"My cousin Evert Leivo's family in Hearst, Ontario, Canada."
"Come back tomorrow."
I went to the same place next day. The man said, "Let's wait a little".
We went to a bank on the same street. It was a big surprise to me! I had to just write my name and I got the TICKET!
Rail to Turku, then little boat to Stockholm in Sweden, over to Gothenburg in train.
Then in October to boat Drottningholm and started the ocean trip nine more days until Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Then I was sick five days.
But when I got to land, the officers stopped me, because I should have had $25.00 as I was coming to Canada. I only had $12.00 that my dear husband had sent me. The other passengers went to catch the train, I was put into quarantine for three days. I was so
glad--the bed didn't shake anymore like it had on the boat over the Atlantic Ocean at winter time.
After three days a Finnish man came to tell us:
'Ready to travel on train....All Aboard!'
We were taken to a store first with other women. No one of us could speak English. A French store keeper was showing us shelves with goods. What shall we take? Everyone opened their purses wide, showing that we had no money. The woman just laughed and gave everyone
It was a Salvation Army Store, and Christmas was coming soon. She gave me a white apron and blue necklace. I later gave the present to Leiv's daughter in Hearst.
Steam Locomotive heading from Halifax, Nova Scotia, through Toronto to Hearst, Ontario.
At the railroad station in Hearst were Aimo and Evert and also a man from the Government. I spent one month with my husband in the bush camp. I wrote to a friend in Toronto. She wrote back, that it was possible to get work there. So we decided, that I would go, because the only work for my husband in Hearst area was bush camps, no work in town. I went to Toronto alone and got a job as a maid. I paid my ticket to Leivos' through mail. After nine months my husband came to Toronto in box car.
Aunt Taimi wrote:
On boat to Halifax , she met a Jewish couple who took her in as a maid - getting a room for her in a rooming house , close to her work. Mamma recalls often "she loved it there" learned how to cook , etc. That was in Toronto, after she came from Halifax by train. They thought she was a single lady, & only spoke Finn. Pappa would come & visit from Hearst by "boxcar" in those days. Pappa was working in Hearst as a Barber - & then came the 30s depression!! Pappa had no job, & came to stay with Mamma, as she had work , until she got pregnant. She kept herself tied up around her tummy, so it wouldn't show - until one day they guessed & she was fired. Mamma had the baby girl at Toronto General Hospital named her Taimi like the baby she lost in Finland - that was ME! Mamma was able to get another job as maid & cook for another family & Pappa would look after the baby. He said Taimi slept the best in her baby carriage on Eatons' corner, where all the trolley busses etc made lots of noise!!
Our baby was born in Toronto, August 10, 1933. So I couldn't work. Amio was there winter time. He took care of our 3 month old baby, so I could work by days. He went to Hearst in the spring and built a home on our homestead in the bush.
When I came to Hearst with one year old Taimi, the first winter we both got jobs at Viita Camp. I was cooking, and Aimo helped with horses. They had three teams, I mean six horses. They hauled wood to a siding all winter. In spring we went to our own camp in bush.
Aunt Taimi wrote:
Then word came that there was a bush camp job opening & they need a cook, in REESOR near MATTICE so they went there. Mamma was the cook to 6 men & Pappa had 2 teams of horses & I was by then 2 yrs old. (Canadian Government) helped them get started. Mamma told us that when the men came to eat, as they sat on benches at the table Taimi would take all their tobacco pouches out of their back pockets & put them in a can in the shed to make pies/bread etc. The men spoiled me, I'm sure! Then she said Taimi was lost - they all went to look for her & thinking she could of wandered into the bush that had wild animals. Then someone found me sleeping behind some flour/potato bags.
Mary (my mom, and Pappa and Mamma's second daughter) said via phone:
The original homestead was on the east side of Hearst, 6 miles from town. Pappa only paid $10 an acre because it was all bush without a road. Mamma didn't like it because she was worried about getting out in the winter if something happened to the baby.
She saw an ad in the Toronto newspaper about a farm for sale in Ryland, 7 miles west of Hearst. Finland has lots of good rye growing land, so Mamma said that was a good place to live. They paid $250 to the Catholic church for the farm. It contained one log building where a priest had lived and held mass, but was no longer needed.
had to hire a man to do the cooking, because I had cows and a child to be cared for at the farm. First we sold some butter to Hearst. They established a creamer in Hearst, so we sent cream there and got cream checks. Hearst was 7 miles from the homestead.
The name of Kakkonen changed into the English language as when Taimi went to
school, she said her last name was Henrekson, so it was ...that is how it was changed to this day.
Aunt Taimi wrote:
Pappas' name was Aimo Johannes Kakkonen & the Canadian neighbours couldn't
say it right - they called him"Kaka-nen" to him meaning "poo-ish" & that to
him felt dirty, so renamed himself John (after Johannes) & Hendrickson after
"Henri" his father, & son.
To be continued...
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For the history buffs, I'll be posting information on my writing blog about things Mamma encountered on her trip from Sweden to Hearst. This will include the:
- SS Drottningholm
- Canadian National train
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