This morning I found Finnish American Lives. It’s a great documentary from 1982 about three generations of a Finnish American family living in Ironwood, Michigan. It’s amazing that you can stream the entire film (45 minutes) online. The site has additional essays on Finnish Americans in the UP, the Sauna and 2nd and 3rd generation Finnish American culture.
I also found a preview for another film about Finnish Americans, Children of Labor: A Finnish American History
Like many Finnish farmsteads in the U.P., the Farm had a sauna. Here’s a trailer for a movie about the significance of the sauna for the Finns. I’d like to find a copy somewhere to watch:
Bonus: Are you pronouncing sauna correctly?
This morning I started reading Agatha Christie’s autobiography. In the forward, she offers some great reflections on writing about one’s own life. She always says this about remembering and the past:
the past, the memories and realities that are the bedrock of one’s present life, brought back suddenly by a scent, the shape of a hill, an old song—some triviality that makes one suddenly say ‘I remember…’ with a peculiar and quite unexplainable pleasure. This is one of the compensations that age brings, and certainly a very enjoyable one—to remember.
My great grandparents, Elias and Johanna Puotinen immigrated to the United States (6 years apart, 1886/1892) from Evijärvi, Finland. While doing a random search online, I found this video. The landscape looks a lot like the UP.
During the summer of 2002, I spent almost a month with my mom at the Farm. In the morning, after taking a walk, she would work in her sewing room while I sat at the dining room table studying French for my doctoral language exam. In the afternoon, we explored different hiking trails near the Farm. We both usually brought our cameras. She would take pictures while I shot video footage.
To commemorate that wonderful month, my mom crafted a photo book using construction paper, duct tape, card stock and many of the photographs that she had taken. She gave it to me as a thank you:
I love this book. I love how her stories about our month are written around the photos in her neat handwriting. And I love that she took the time to mark the occasion in such a creative and crafty way.
In the spring I plan to have her photo book professionally scanned and to combine it with my video footage and stories in an interactive book. For now, here’s my first effort at combining our stories: