Thursday, January 15, 2015

Kathryn in America: Kathryn meets Ike/Move to Chicago

Sometime, I had already become very aware of a nice neighbor boy – he wasn’t really good looking then and very bashful – but I could see the honesty and integrity – also. I think he liked me very much. He wasn’t much of a talker, in my eyes he stood above all of the other young men that I knew. Our “courtship” was a little “different” compared with this fast modern age of today! He had an older brother who had already married another neighbor girl and brought her home to live as a “minia” that is a daughter-in-law – who lives in the home of her in-laws and certainly is not in command of the household. (That was very customary in Finland.) So, an extra brother was “superfluous,” naturally. Ike worked in the woods, also odd jobs in Superior, shipyards, etc. In the summer he helped at home with haying, milking, and heavier work in the Fall such as harvesting and threshing. The brothers had bought their first Model T Ford jointly – (you can guess who really had it most of the time.) We did a lot of walking and just visiting at my home. Seems we never talked of marriage – but it just was understood. Farming did not interest us – tho’ Ike’s father would have liked to have his younger son live at home, (for some reason or other.) That did not appeal to us. So in Sept. 1922 we just went to Duluth and were married by Dr. Nelson Pace at his home. He was pastor of the First Methodist Church then. We took no witnesses along – just Mrs. Pace was there and their daughter Merna (who was in the tub at the time!) put her name on the certificate. That was it --$5.00. So, you can see no fancy weddings are required to make a marriage endure! We rented two small furnished rooms on Mesaba Ave. in the 400 W. block. Ike found work at the Duluth Showcase Co. in W. Duluth and I waited on tables for a while in the Boston Café – across W. Superior St. from where I live now. The wages were very low – we were young and footloose – so we decided to try the “Big Town” – Chicago.  I can’t remember how we traveled to Oulu, but we went home to see the folks before leaving. Needless, to say, they didn’t like the idea at all. In fact, Ike’s father still begged us to come live at their house and the school chairman came to offer me the Southern School in Oulu, that had not yet found a teacher. But, “no thank you.” We did not stay long, as we were afraid the neighborhood young folks might come and “chari-vari” us – which they did sometime for newly-weds. They called it a “shiveree” –a surprise drumming with tubs, wash boilers and what have you. The couple was then supposed to give them “refreshments” – they didn’t quit drumming until that was done. Ike went ahead, by train, he only found work with a roofing co. I followed in November. We rented a bedroom from an old-maid tailor who was gone all day – so we had kitchen privileges. I got work behind the “jewelry counter” at Woolworth’s in the Loop.

Chicago circa 1922

In January (1923) we got word that my father was very sick. I pawned my $10 gold piece to the old maid for a $10 bill – and took the train home. From Duluth, I called the Co-op Store in Oulu, to ask how my father was and was told he was dead! My cousin, Linda, was then in Duluth, we bought two sprays of flowers – one from Ike and me – the other from Uncle Victor and family. I took a train to Brule, I was crying so I couldn’t find my ticket at first, the brakeman George who was taking the tickets on the train, cried also. He had gotten to know all the young people who traveled from the country to Superior, etc. Ike’s brother, Eino, met me in Brule with a horse and sleigh. Father was only 50 years of age – the Dr. had said his heart was “shot.” So, I think the stone dust at the quarry in R.G. –combined with running up the hills after “Lucy” finally was too much.
Mother was widowed at the age of 48 with three minor children. Waino dropped out of school then, he didn’t care for it in the first place. So, he became a “man” at an early age.

I went back to Chicago—on the way I withdrew my savings $500 – from a bank. Ike had $200 saved when were married.

Soon after, we had the opportunity to rent a 4-room apartment in the same building, but we had to buy the furniture that was in it – which we did. $300 – complete furniture! Simple but adequate. It had two bedrooms which we were willing to rent to a couple. Soon after, Mary and August Muttinen came to live with us. They had married in Kuopio, Finland in Nov. 1922 and had come to America to make their “fortune.” We all were young and had fun. Mary and Gust went to night school to learn English and we tried to help. Mary got work in a laundry and Gust had learned house painting. I got work at Montgomery-Ward mail order house as “file clerk” and for awhile I was “inspector” at the Babe Ruth candy factory, which was not too far. Ike was still “roofing.”

I don’t remember just when he started work at a small furniture factory. But always I remember the date, Jan. 24, 1924 – when he had the misfortune of catching his right hand in some “circle saw.” His hand was badly mutilated. Those days the compensation was trivial. He was paid the hospitalization --$15 a week until the doctor pronounced it healed – then $2000. While he was recuperating – I landed in the hospital and had to have my appendix removed on Valentine’s Day – Feb 14th! (We had to pay $100 in advance.)

That Spring we bought a brand new Ford Coupe – it cost $600. And Ike began selling Fuller Brushes, house to house. He must always have looked honest as he found very little trouble getting into the house to demonstrate the brushes. He earned only a commission, I think was 40% -- but he himself had to buy the “free sample” brush to give to the lady of the house. Those little brushes cost was 2 cents a piece. He practiced on me and the Muttinens – but he liked selling, and did quite well – as he always did his best on whatever he did. 

*Kathryn had all of this and more under "Move to Oulu" in her written memoirs. I decided to break the chapter up into three smaller sections, so I made up the title for this chapter.

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