About us

RAIVAAJA is a not-for-profit publication owned by the Finnish American community. It strives to keep its readership informed in Finnish and in English about happenings in Finland and in Finnish communities all over the world.   This kind of information is not usually found in the mainstream American press.  Our Raivaaja staff believes publishing to be the most important way to transmit knowledge of our ethnic history and culture from one generation to the next.  Publishing is also the vital way to communicate current events and issues concerning the future of our Finnish- American  cultural activities. RAIVAAJA provides a forum for this dialog.

The RAIVAAJA Bookstore is in operation and a continuing source of revenue.  Any support through purchase of books and CD’s  will be promptly filled with our thanks for your continuing support.

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4 Responses to About us

  1. Roy Helander says:

    I am having a ball going through the files. When I find something that might be of interest to a friend, I translate it and mail it out. Charlie has been getting stuff on the music his grandfather played, directing the Saima Band. Nancy Fors got a bit about someone in her husband’s family tree getting burned in a stove fire.

    I went through the 1924 editions from beginning to end and made the enclosed list of all the plays that were done that year in the socialist chapters throughout the East including Ohio. The paid stage directors in Fitchburg, Maynard, Gardner and Worcester met monthly to set up the touring schedule. Thus, there was a play in each town on every Saturday, including the musicals which also had to tour. Maynard demanded more money for their production of the Merry Widow but the others resisted. The controlling board of the party intervened and Maynard won out, travelling to four other towns, performing the piece 10 times in total.

  2. Sandra Perko says:

    As an aside at the Board Meeting, Roy Helander mentioned that while social distancing, he had read all the Raivaaja issues that were available online. He contacted Bob Hanninen, who gave Roy a small device that had all issues of Raivaaja from 1914. To his great interest, Roy found lots of articles covering Saima theater, as well as the vast number of Finnish plays that were performed
    on the East Coast. Here is a sample of some information he found in the Raivaaja from 1924:
    “SAIMA TORI IN 1924 (as described in the Raivaaja at the time)
    “In May there was a weeklong Market Place at Saima Park with the following setup:
    “Monday A car parade from city to park, then a free dance with Saima Band playing.
    “Tuesday A program by the people from Rollstone Hill + “Naisten Narrit” (a one act operetta by Martti Nisonen, the composer at what is now Finlandia University, performed by the Maynard Socialist Theater) + The march of the Rollstone Hill Dwellers which was a translation by Syrjälä, the Raivaaja editor, from Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance”.
    “Wednesday A program of 14 numbers by the Kuusamo area Finns including songs, poems, humor.
    “Thursday “Aavikon Lapset” (Children of the Prarie) A three act musical by the same Nisonen with a cast of 50 including cowboys, Indians, black folk, Chinese laborers, etc. presented by the Saima theatre group directed by their paid director, Sakeus Juuri-Oja with dances taught by his wife, Seija, who was a professional
    actress trained in Finland.
    “Friday Opened at 10am with sports, swimming, music. At 2 pm Alfred Tanner, a comic singer from Finland, giving a farewell concert at the conclusion of his American tour. A dance at 7 pm with a fine orchestra at 50 cents admission.
    “Saturday All day fair activities — awarding of prizes — Free dance in the evening.”
    The reaction of many of us after reading this description is that Saima was extremely active at the time. As Nancy said it, “Oh, my! The times they have certainly changed! Now we can barely handle one program lasting a few hours!!”
    From http://www.saima-park.org/newsletters/2020-2.html

  3. Lloyd Hannula says:

    Runs in the family: Odd Pine Farm ready to open for 61st season under Helenius family

    We Hannula’s have a connection, Doug’s mother was a Hannula, first cousin to my Dad.  Joyce and I have picked many berries at ODD PINE FARM over the years and it’s great news that the farm will still stay around hopefully for years to come.  


    After rereading the article which brought back memories of my picking as a youngster, picking in the early 1950’s at my Uncle Andy and Aunt Evelyn’s farm in Hubbardston MA   I called my cousin Janet for details of the farm.   She put some details on paper and sent them to me 

    HANNULA BLUEBERRY HISTORY By Janet Hannula Stankaitis
    My grandfather, Klaus Hannula, purchased 42 acres of land on Flagg Road, Hubbardston in 1919, following grandma Jenny Hannula’s death in 1915.  He raised his five surviving children (son Albert having died in 1913), Alice, John, Andrew, Inez and Kenneth.  This property had wild tall bush blueberry bushes and Grandpa Klaus and his children supplemented income from picking and selling blueberries in the summer months.  A blueberry broker would travel to each blueberry farm and travel to Boston’s Quincy Farmer’s Market to sell them.  The farmer would then get proceeds, less broker fee.  Later the Farmer’s Co-operative took over as brokers.  Blueberries were picked in smaller pails and then each child/adult would place in ten quart pails.  Late in afternoon, they would clean the berries by removing twigs, green or bad berries and place in quart baskets.  Quarts were then placed in blueberry crates which contained 4 tiers, with 8 quarts to each tier.  
    In 1940, my grandfather could no longer take care of the farm so my father Andrew and my mother Evelyn moved there when I was 6 weeks old.  None of the other siblings wanted the farm.  My mother and father continued to pick and sell wild blueberries to a broker. I remember so well picking at a young age. And I soon learned how to pick fast as my father was an extremely fast picker.  It would be a contest that lasted for years.  My Mom said mine were cleaner with less twigs and leaves! Another tidbit I learned was that you did not want to handle the berries often or put them in containers that would make them sweat.  Wet berries spoiled fast.  Sometime during the 1940’s, my parents allowed others to pick their own berries for their own consumption.  This began a U-pick your own business.  In the late 1940’s my father decided if wild blueberry bushes were so prevalent why not plant cultivated blueberries.  
    Dad’s first order was for 1,000 bushes and he planted those in a field near where all the wild ones grew.  The next few years, he added 4,000 more bushes (4 different varieties from early to late ripening) with a few of those to be planted next to the house for personal use. My Dad spent many long hours pruning and fertilizing the bushes every year.  Each year would be a different section for pruning.  He would head off with a thermos of coffee and a homemade donut or other goodie Mom made and spend hours in the fields.  Farming is not an easy life.
    As the bushes grew and were producing well, we spent our summers, along with other family members picking the cultivated.  The berries were cleaned and put in pint baskets and placed into a flat, which held 12 pints.  After cleaning, a square of cellophane was placed over basket and an elastic used to hold cellophane. While picking, we had carriers made by my maternal grandfather, with handles, that held up to 12 pints.  For a couple years or so, we used John Flis, a broker, from Baldwinville to transport them into Boston.  Whatever proceeds John paid us, we and our cousins and maternal grandparents would get paid.  My father eventually decided not to pay a middleman.  Sometimes we were out there with a flashlight to fill another pint or two to complete a 12 pint flat.  By early evening, all flats were loaded in station wagon and Mom and Dad would get up around 1-2 a.m. and head to Boston to sell their berries.  Once back home, Dad would head to his full time job at Florence Stove.  Mom’s job at Center School Cafeteria was closed in the summer, so she took care of getting us all picking each morning.  But, blueberries continued producing into September (we picked evenings and on weekends), so she would go to work after they returned from Boston.   
    Once Florence Stove closed their doors in 1957, my Mom and Dad were happy they had this side business to supplement my Dad’s small unemployment check of $40 a week.  My berry picking income purchased all my school clothes from Freshman year to Senior, my class ring, senior class trip and graduation photo. My fast picking paid off.
    Sometime probably in the early 1960’s my Mom and Dad decided to switch to U-Pick so they did not have to travel to Boston.  Sadly my Dad passed away in 1973 after a long illness, but my Mom kept it going with my brother Wayne.  Once he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in summer of 1996 he was unable to carry on long after that and he passed away in 1998.  The farm is still in the Hannula family, owned by my nephew Russell and his mother Ann.  Only the small patch of bushes near the house is maintained for personal, family & friend use.  
    Another Hannula family, my grandpa Klaus’ brother John, was in the blueberry business as well.  John purchased acreage in 1923 on top of Gates Hill (Mt. Jefferson Road), not far from Klaus’ property on Flagg Road.  John also leased 3 pieces of property from Mr. Gates (thus the Gates Hill) that went onto what is now Malone Road.  John’s children Waino, Toivo, Arvo, Tarmo, Reino, Vieno and Lilja picked the wild berries and also sold through the blueberry broker.  Arvo and his wife Rita also in later years had property that had low bush blueberries. My Dad always said no way was he going to operate a low bush blueberry farm as it was too back breaking. Arvo died in 1976 and I don’t know when his blueberry patch ceased operation.
    As a side note, blueberries were a staple in Finland, particularly in northern Finland.  They grew so well and sustained life.  The Finns paid homage to the blueberry.  When Finns started immigrating to the United States, they were drawn to areas where blueberries flourished…New England, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington and Oregon, all cooler climates with soil that the berries loved.  
    I still have fond memories of picking and enjoying so many dishes my Mom made from blueberries.  As I said above, the blueberry was a staple!
    August 1, 2020

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