Monday, January 5, 2015

Kathryn in America: Move to Oulu, Wisc.

Move to Oulu, Wisc.

Location of Oulu, Wisconsin

So, in September we left by train for I.R. [Iron River] with all our possessions in the freight. Mrs. Maki and Esther Lind (Aijala) came along as far as Bannerman Jct. The train from R.G. [Redgranite] came there and back. Again, I had to part with friends that I had learned to be with and like. More tears on all sides. Luckily, my friend Mattie now lived in Iron R. (one consolation). Her grandpa had been transferred to the church there. Oulu is about 10 miles from there. We hired a team and wagon, with driver, loaded our meager furniture on it and so began the slow ride to our new home. It seemed a never ending trip, we were so anxious and eager to get there. A few log cabins along the way including an abandoned small lumber camp in Oulu near what is now the Coop Store. There was a small creamery there, too, I seem to remember. I don’t know how we got our possessions down the hill. When mother saw the house and realized one could see no other house from there, she sat down and cried. She sent father running up the hill to the road to see if the wagon was still there, but it had left. I’ve often wondered what really would have happened if it had still been there! My mother would sometimes berate my father for buying such a hilly and hard to farm place. I really felt sorry for him and would tell her that she should have come along with him to look at it. My mother became very nervous. She had managed to save $3,000 in the 7 years we lived in Redgranite. She was always thrifty and careful and did not waste. 

So, began our life in Oulu, Wis. All the houses were built of logs – the people were all Finns excepts for 3 of 4 families of Swedes. First, 2 cows were bought, “kestikki” (with extremely long curved horns) and “kirju”. They were both gurnseys and gave plenty of rich milk. Then, a horse, named “Lucy” – Lucy must have been a wild horse at some time – she always wanted to run. Waino and I enjoyed fishing in Reefer Creek, we almost always had a small catch of delicious small brook trout – once in awhile a big yellow sucker. We started school in the “Little Red School” not too far away. There were 8 grades – all in one room! I went into the 7th grade. The kids were all Finns – it was hard for the teacher to get the boys to talk English outside – girls were more obedient. All the kids had to speak Finnish at home as so many of the mothers especially, had come to Oulu direct from the Old Country. I remember I caught lice into my hair soon after. A girl in front of me had dark hair and I could see lice crawling. Mother bought a fine comb, placed a black cloth into her lap and combed my hair into it. Then she washed my hair with kerosene!  It took awhile, but we got rid of them, and kept careful watch afterward. I seem to remember there were approximately 40 kids in that one room.

The "Little Red School" in Oulu, WI where Kathryn was both a student and teacher

Eventually, my parents bought an adjoining 40 acres and a log house was built on top of the hill and the old house converted into a barn, as the “herd” had increased.

Most of the people belonged to the Apostolic Lutheran religion, a strict and (to me) a narrow-minded belief. Once in awhile services were held in the various homes. My folks were of the Evangelical Lutheran faith and were not as strict. But, we would go to these services, there were not too many “social affairs” otherwise. The first time I went, I thought it very funny to see adult people jumping up and down “thanking the Lord” laughing and crying at the same time. Some were even dancing by themselves. They all “forgave each other’s sins” – and would greet by saying “God’s greetings to you” and at parting “believe your sins forgiven.” And believe me, everything was a sin, especially anything that was “vanity”. They called themselves Laestadians. 

My brother, Eino Alfred, was born April 15, 1917. John Maryland’s mother was midwife. They lived in the next hollow up the creek, in fact the original house is still there and John lives in it. I must remember to mention that no one had wells yet along that creek – all water was taken from there. So, when it had rained, the water was muddy with red clay and the cattle had waded in it – you can imagine what our drinking water tasted like! The folks tried to store it in large crocks – but it all had to be carried in pails up the hill; it wasn’t easy. The job for us kids always was to keep the water supply replenished and the wood box full. But, life was fun and we were young. 

In the summer we had to go up to Copper Hill (where Eino is buried now) and pick blueberries. Mother canned them for winter eating. It was usually hot at that time of the summer and we got thirsty. No thermas bottles then. There was a natural small spring in the woods, luckily, on the way home where we never failed to stop and drink the cool water. In winter, all boys had rabbit snares in the woods, they were good eating. One could not afford to kill cattle for beef, except if too many bull calves were born. They were raised awhile and butchered. Deer were plentiful, but my father never owned a gun. Waino finally got one. No hunting licenses were required then.

I was always the best speller and reader in school. (Modest?) Most of all, I enjoyed the spelling bees, which we had often. The teacher would choose two “captains” one on each side of the room, the captains would the choose the spellers by turn one at a time. (Maybe you can guess who got chosen first, as that side usually won.) One year, I represented Bayfield Co. and had to go to the Wis. State Fair to spell (near Milwaukee). We had an audience and I was nervous. When the words were given to us to spell – we had to ask the meaning if the sound was about the same. “Independents” instead of “independence” got me down. My mother had given me 25 cents for spending money – the Co. Supt. of schools put $10 into my hand – which I brought home intact and we sent it back to her! I’ve often wondered what did she think?

I finished the 8th grade and went to confirmation school in June 1915, for a week – which was all that was required. A small Apostolic Lutheran church had been built on the Maryland property (it is still there.) There were 16 of us kids, 10 girls and 6 boys. Jonas Ojala (of Oulu) was the “pastor” – he had never gone to any “seminary.” He tried his best to teach us as much of the catechism as he could in 5 days! On Saturday, us kids scrubbed the church, wooden benches, etc. and decorated with fresh birch boughs. Sunday, we were “confirmed,” parents attending.

Then, with 3 other girls, I came to Superior to work. Jewish families were eager to get the Finnish country girls to work in their homes. So, I got to work for a family by the name of Averbook – above a drug store on the corner of Ogden Ave. and 5th St. 2 whole dollars a week – 7 days. I had to do every thing in the house, except cook which Mrs. Averbook did herself as they were very strict Orthodox Jews. Meat and milk dishes were kept separate. It was interesting. I learned a lot about Jewish life.

In September I enrolled in the Normal School, which is now Wis. State University in Superior. At that time we could enter there from the 8th grade, as it was equivalent to High School. There was what was called a “Better Rural Teacher’s” course that would qualify one for country school teacher. I attended two years and stayed at home one year to help mother with the younger children, as I was still young myself. Then I went back for a year and got my first teaching job at the the Northern School in Oulu. $60 a month! That was in 1919 – I lived at Henry Getto’s as they lived closer to the school. Eight grades again – all in one room. I can’t remember how many children there were. – (only 1 in the 8th grade.) Every morning I walked over a mile and back again in the late afternoon. It was fun. We had a program at Christmas time to which all the people came – entertainment was simple then and too much was not expected by anyone. We also had a “basket-social” one evening for the neighborhood young people. The girls made a decorated “basket” and put in sandwiches, cake, etc. The young fellows would “bid” on a basket – whoever got it – also got to eat with the one whose name was on it. My basket was bid up to $5 – but now I can’t remember who got it! The proceeds were used to buy some needed equipment for the school. The next 2 years I taught at Little Red School and lived at home. Then my pay was $80 and $85! An 8 - month school year. 

The "famous" Oulu Rock, painted with Finnish colors and with the Finnish flag on the side.

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