Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What Katy Did

I was sitting in the meadows one day, not long ago, at a place where there was a small brook. It was a hot day. The sky was very blue, and white clouds, like great swans, went floating over it to and fro. Just opposite me was a clump of green rushes, with dark velvety spikes, and among them one single tall, red cardinal flower, which was bending over the brook as if to see its own beautiful face in the water. But the cardinal did not seem to be vain.

The picture was so pretty that I sat a long time enjoying it. Suddenly, close to me, two small voices began to talk--or to sing, for I couldn't tell exactly which it was. One voice was shrill; the other, which was a little deeper, sounded very positive and cross. They were evidently disputing about something, for they said the same words over and over again. These were the words--"Katy did." "Katy didn't." "She did." "She didn't." "She did." "She didn't." "Did." "Didn't." I think they must have repeated them at least a hundred times.

I got up from my seat to see if I could find the speakers; and sure enough, there on one of the cat-tail bulrushes, I spied two tiny pale-green creatures. Their eyes seemed to be weak, for they both wore black goggles. They had six legs apiece,--two short ones, two not so short, and two very long. These last legs had joints like the springs to buggy-tops; and as I watched, they began walking up the rush, and then I saw that they moved exactly like an old-fashioned gig. In fact, if I hadn't been too big, I _think_ I should have heard them creak as they went along. They didn't say anything so long as I was there, but the moment my back was turned they began to quarrel again, and in the same old words--"Katy did." "Katy didn't." "She did." "She didn't."

As I walked home I fell to thinking about another Katy,--a Katy I once knew, who planned to do a great many wonderful things, and in the end did none of them, but something quite different,--something she didn't like at all at first, but which, on the whole, was a great deal better than any of the doings she had dreamed about. And as I thought, this little story grew in my head, and I resolved to write it down for you. I have done it; and, in memory of my two little friends on the bulrush, I give it their name. Here it is--the story of What Katy Did.

Susan Coolidge: What Katy Did

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

That huge placid-eyed girl with her broken English

Percy is a man of imagination. He can realize that Olga is more than a mere type. He agrees with me that she's a sort of miracle. To Terry she's only a mute and muscular Finnish servant-girl with an arm like a grenadier's. To Percy she is a goddess made manifest, a superhuman body of superhuman vigor and beauty and at the same time a body crowned with majesty and robed in mystery. And I still incline to Percy's opinion. Olga is always wonderful to me. Her lips are such a soft and melting red, the red of perfect animal health. The very milkiness of her skin is[Pg 274] an advertisement of that queenly and all-conquering vitality which lifts her so above the ordinary ruck of humanity. And her great ruminative eyes are as clear and limpid as any woodland pool.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

We shall have plenty of fun, in spite of the snow,

I changed horses at several post stations during the day, among them the stations of Korpikyla, Niemis, Ruskola, and Matarengi. I found that the Finnish language was now prevalent, Swedish being only spoken by comparatively few people.

That day was the end of the fine weather. Towards evening the wind was blowing very hard, and it increased in strength every minute until it blew a perfect hurricane. Then what my friends had said to me came to mind. It was indeed a fearful windstorm!

The gale had become such that the horse at times did not seem to have strength enough to pull our sleigh. The snow flew in thick cloudy masses to a great height, curling and recurling upon itself and blinding us. Fortunately our robes were fastened very securely. I wore my hood, and it was so arranged that my eyes were the only part of my face that was not covered. The wind was so powerful that our sleigh was in continual danger of upsetting, and was only saved because it was so low.

I was glad indeed when I reached the hamlet of Matarengi with its red-painted log church, two hundred years old, and separate belfry of the same color.

Paul du Chaillu: The Land of the Long Night (1899)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

She was a small creature

Mlle. Fohström effected her American début in a performance of "Lucia" on November 9th. She had been announced for the second night of the season in "Il Trovatore," but was taken ill. She had been little heard of previous to her coming, though diligent observers of musical doings knew that she had sung for several seasons in Europe, and, I believe, South America, and had figured in Colonel Mapleson's spring season in London in 1885. She was a small creature, with features of a markedly Scandinavian type--she was a native of Finland--and had evidently studied the traditions of the Italian operatic stage to as much purpose as was necessary to present, acceptably, the stereotyped round of characters. But her gifts and attainments were not great enough to take her impersonations out of the rut of conventionality, nor to save her singing from the charge of nervelessness and monotony of color. Three seasons later (1888-89) she was a member of the German company at the Metropolitan Opera House, and sang such rôles as Marguerite de Valois ("Les Huguenots"), Mathilde ("William Tell"), Marguerite ("Faust"), Bertha ("Le Prophète"), and Eudora ("La Juive"), giving place at the beginning of February to Mme. Schroeder-Hanfstängl...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tätä en kerro teille ylvästelläkseni

Mutta suuhun päin sudella hampaat. Ei meistä kumpikaan aikonut nälkään kuolla. Ei kyllä kukaan kirves kädessä synny, mutta eipä synny myöskään moni peukalo keskellä kämmentä. Matti ei ole kellarista kotoisin enkä minä myöskään ole mikään reestä pudonnut ja tielle jätetty.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

There are no longer any Swedes at Vyburg

Ten days later, the governor came into Charlie's room.

"An officer has arrived, with an order for your removal," he said. "You are to be taken up again to Notteburg."

"I am very sorry," Charlie said. "I have been very comfortable here. You have been very kind to me, and I feel sure the change will not be for the better. Besides, we are nearly into September now, and in that marshy country round the lake and river, the winter will be even more severe than it is here. The only thing I can think of is that the Swedes at Vyburg may have taken a Russian captain prisoner, and that they are going to exchange us."

The governor shook his head.

"There are no longer any Swedes at Vyburg. All Ingria is in our hands and the Swedes have retired into Finland. It may be that it is the work of your friend. I sent a message to Peter Michaeloff, should he be found in that neighbourhood, by an officer who was going there, telling him that you were here, and that, having met him when a prisoner at Plescow, you relied on his good offices. Should the officer have found him there, and have given him my message, he may probably have begged the field marshal to order you to be taken to the prison there, where he could be near you, and visit you sometimes."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What real cheese is

Emmentaler, Gruyère and Swiss... Besides phonies from Argentina and countries as far off as Finland, we get a flood of imported and domestic Swisses of all sad sorts, with all possible faults—from too many holes, that make a flabby, wobbly cheese, to too few—cracked, dried-up, collapsed or utterly ruined by molding inside. So it will pay you to buy only the kind already marked genuine in Switzerland.

Valio, Finland. One-ounce wedges, six to a box, labeled pasteurized process Swiss cheese, made by the Cooperative Butter Export Association, Helsinki, Finland, to sell to North Americans to help them forget what real cheese is.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"It IS a journey when you carry a nightgown!"

The old stage coach was rumbling along the dusty road that runs from Maplewood to Riverboro. The day was as warm as midsummer, though it was only the middle of May, and Mr. Jeremiah Cobb was favoring the horses as much as possible, yet never losing sight of the fact that he carried the mail. The hills were many, and the reins lay loosely in his hands as he lolled back in his seat and extended one foot and leg luxuriously over the dashboard. His brimmed hat of worn felt was well pulled over his eyes, and he revolved a quid of tobacco in his left cheek.

There was one passenger in the coach,--a small dark-haired person in a glossy buff calico dress. She was so slender and so stiffly starched that she slid from space to space on the leather cushions, though she braced herself against the middle seat with her feet and extended her cotton-gloved hands on each side, in order to maintain some sort of balance. Whenever the wheels sank farther than usual into a rut, or jolted suddenly over a stone, she bounded involuntarily into the air, came down again, pushed back her funny little straw hat, and picked up or settled more firmly a small pink sun shade, which seemed to be her chief responsibility,--unless we except a bead purse, into which she looked whenever the condition of the roads would permit, finding great apparent satisfaction in that its precious contents neither disappeared nor grew less. Mr. Cobb guessed nothing of these harassing details of travel, his business being to carry people to their destinations, not, necessarily, to make them comfortable on the way. Indeed he had forgotten the very existence of this one unnoteworthy little passenger.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Simplified Kalevala

And lastly, there was Father Mikko himself, an old man over sixty, yet strong and hearty, with a long gray beard and gray hair, and eyes that fairly twinkled with good humour. You could hardly see his mouth for his beard and moustache, and certainly his nose was a little too small and turned up at the end to be exactly handsome, and his cheek-bones did stand out a little too high; but yet everybody, young and old, liked him, and his famous stories made him a welcome guest wherever he came.

So Father Mikko lit his queer little pipe, and settled down comfortably with Mimi in his lap, and a glass of beer at his side to refresh himself with when he grew weary of talking. There was only the firelight in the room, and as the flames roared up the chimney they cast a warm, cosy light over the whole room, and made them all feel so comfortable that they thanked God in their hearts in their simple way, because they had so many blessings and comforts when such a storm was raging outside that it shook the house and drifted the snow up higher than the doors and windows.

Then Father Mikko began, and this is the first story that he told them.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Weird Tales from Northern Seas

In the days of our forefathers, when there was nothing but wretched boats up in Nordland, and folks must needs buy fair winds by the sackful from the Gan-Finn, it was not safe to tack about in the open sea in wintry weather. In those days a fisherman never grew old. It was mostly womenfolk and children, and the lame and halt, who were buried ashore.

Jonas Lie: Weird Tales from Northern Seas (1893)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A number of small barren islands

On the morning of the third day we entered the Gulf of Finland, which is two hundred miles long and very wide. During the day we saw one or two towns on the Finland shore, and a number of small barren islands; also numerous sails, mostly of small craft.

Early the next morning, being the fourth day from Stettin, we landed at Cronstadt, where we were boarded by a whole phalanx of policemen and searchers of luggage, passports, etc. ...

On the right shore of the gulf from Cronstadt we saw the town of Oranienbaum, and a little further on, the gilded towers and park of Peterhoff, which are situated on a slight acclivity; but after they are passed the banks again become low, and present from a distance the only feature of the Finnish shores, interminable flats. At length a golden spot, sparkling in the sunshine, and of dazzling splendor, together with a tall and taper spire, shooting like a needle to the sky, and rising apparently from the water, are seen, and these are the first indications that prove that the great city founded by Peter the Great is near at hand. This golden spot is the gilded dome of the Isak Church, which may, in fair weather, be seen from Cronstadt, a distance of sixteen miles. The spire is that of the Admiralty. Aside from these two objects, the approach to St. Petersburg is anything but prepossessing, being situated on a number of low islands, formed by the winding of the Neva, and built up on the side next to the sea with indifferent-looking houses.

Friday, July 18, 2008

All kinds of marks and signs to be made from morning till night

When Anne Kvæn had no longer leave to go into the blue room to my mother, she silently went through all kinds of performances outside the door. I remember once standing on the stairs, and seeing her bowing and curtseying, wetting her finger every now and then, drawing on the door with it, and muttering, until I fled in terror.

In her incantation formulæ, the word "Jumala" often occurred, the name of the Bjarmers' old god, whose memory, in the far north, is not so completely eradicated as one would think, and who to this day has perhaps some sacrificial stone or other on the wide mountain wastes of Finland. Against Lap witchcraft—and a suspicion of it was fastened on almost every Lap boat that landed at the quay—she also had her charms; she apparently melted down Fin and Christian gods together in her mystical incantations, for the confounding of Lap witchcraft.

In the midst of such mental impressions as these, I grew up.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Finnish Cooperative Societies of Brooklyn.

What is it that makes the Finns so successful at Cooperation? Industry and cleanliness. At any rate those are the striking characteristics of the Finns of Brooklyn.

Up to the present time they have never paid any dividends. It has been explained to them, as their manager says, that if the business is to serve them properly it must grow, and in order to grow it needs all the surplus earnings for expansion. And so, because the members are industrious and far-sighted, they have foregone their dividends. The cleanliness of their stores, too, is an inspiration not only to their membership but to hundreds of others who have visited their plant. This is one of the biggest business assets they possess.

These virtues have enabled the Finnish group in Brooklyn to build cooperatively a three-story modern business block, to run therein a wholesale bakery, a retail bakery, a meat shop and grocery store, a cooperative restaurant and a cooperative pool room, to build adjacent to this two modern cooperative apartment houses and to lay the foundations for a third now under construction. Outside of the housing venture the business done last year was $175,000 and today there are nearly two thousand members.

Although these undertakings are practically a part of the same group there are three separate corporations. The largest of these is the Finnish Cooperative Trading Association, Inc. The restaurant is operated as the Workers' Cooperative Restaurant, Inc., and the housing association as the Finnish Homebuilders' Association, Inc.

The restaurant is the oldest. Seven years ago a group of Finns in this locality boarded together. Their capital was a hundred dollars which some one had loaned to them. They ran their little business on a cooperative basis, paying for the meals and putting back any surplus into a reserve. No one contributed anything, but before long they paid back the one hundred dollars. Early in 1922 they incorporated. They then owned a fine modern restaurant, had done $70,000 worth of business in 1921, and had three thousand dollars in the bank. And no one had ever paid a cent into the business. With all this they sell their food at unusually low prices, well cooked, wholesome, and clean.

In 1917 a larger group determined to have a bakery which came up to their standards. In 1919 they had raised enough money to start construction. Then they faced their first test Their money gave out. Undaunted they organized a money raising "army," as they called it, of thirty or forty men. The money was raised. By the time the new bakery was opened they had fourteen hundred members and had raised $140,000. The total organization expenses for three years came to $400, less than three-tenths of one per cent for promotion expenses.

The new business block was opened in May, 1920. All but the restaurant was under one general manager. He was bonded for $10,000. He had had business experience in running a cooperative bank in Wisconsin. To him was delegated a large degree of freedom, but he was held strictly accountable to the Board of Directors. A thorough and comprehensive system of bookkeeping and accounting was installed. Each separate business, the bakeries, the pool room, the meat shop, was put on a cost accounting basis and the manager knew just which one was making or losing money.

All the branches of the business, however, have made money. Over $12,000 in net earnings, after allowing for interest on the investment, have been made since the business started. Last year the bakery did business to the extent of $135,000, the meat market and grocery $58,000, and the pool room $12,000. Already the business has outgrown its quarters. A new oven has been added to the bakery. The third floor, which was used exclusively as a pool room, has been invaded and the thirteen pool tables rearranged and put closer together so that more room may be had for bakery products. Adjacent land has been purchased so that the building itself may be added to. The membership of the Trading Association alone is eighteen hundred and forty.

The employees of the association work among almost ideal conditions. The twelve bakers are all union men and members of the cooperative association as well. They work seven and one-half hours a day and are paid from forty-five to fifty dollars per week. The light, airy bakery is always kept spotless. Adjacent to it is a commodious room with lockers for each man and two shower baths make it easy to keep clean. Down on the first floor the retail bakery is so immaculately clean that you would be willing to defy anyone to find one speck of dust in the place. Every article of food is under shining glass. The floor is white tiled. But the food is what attracts one. The pies swell out as if about to burst. To look at the bread and rolls makes one hungry and to smell them hungrier still. This, you are told, is because only the purest ingredients are used. Many bakers use powdered eggs for baking, commonly imported from China; this cooperative uses only fresh eggs. They buy a better grade of flour than their competitors do. The same thing is true of the meat shop next door. They do not aim to make money on their meat. Their sole aim is to sell only the best. This policy has been so popular that the quantity sold the first three months of 1922 was almost treble that for the same months in 1921. And the meat store, too, has made substantial net earnings.

The two cooperative apartments which lie adjacent to the business block house thirty-two families. The apartments contain five rooms and bath and are thoroughly modern. They are light and airy with high ceilings and hardwood floors. Needless to say their tenant-owners keep them in the most immaculate condition. Recently a group of business men, several of them builders, went through the buildings and many expressed the wish that they could get similar apartments for three times the money that these cooperators were paying. For the best apartments the rent has recently been raised to $31.50 per month. But out of this amount the tenant-owner is not only paying all upkeep but is paying off the mortgage at the rate of $1,000 per year. Similar apartments in the locality rent from $75 to $80 per month. The tenant-owners, of course, run their apartments on the cooperative plan of one vote per member.

The members of the Finnish Cooperative Societies of Brooklyn are fast becoming independent of the middlemen, for cooperation touches them on many sides. They have learned to serve themselves and they get what they want, honest goods--and clean.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ack, say you so

The Danish musket-balls fell thick around them as the Danish troops sought from their trenches to repel the invaders.

"What strange whizzing noise is this in the air?" asked the young king, now for the first time in action.

"'Tis the noise of the musket-balls they fire upon you," was the reply.

"Ack, say you so," said Charles: "good, good; from this time forward that shall he my music."

In the face of this "music" the shore was gained, the trenches were carried by fierce assault and King Charles's first battle was won. Two days later, Copenhagen submitted to its young conqueror, and King Frederick of Denmark hastened to the defence of his capital, only to find it in the possession of the enemy, and to sign a humiliating treaty of peace.

The boy conqueror's first campaign was over, and, as his biographer says, he had "at the age of eighteen begun and finished a war in less than six weeks." Accepting nothing for himself from this conquest, he spared the land from which his dearly remembered mother had come from the horrors of war and pillage which in those days were not only allowable but expected.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Piles of rock, and fir trees and water

The passage up to Helsingfors from Åbo is full of charm to an imaginative mind and fancy, although, it is very possible that a plain John Bull, like one at my elbow as I write, may say, ' Why there is nothing that I can see but piles of rock, and fir trees and water.' That is very true, but still some eyes are not tired, for there is always some new shape, some curious appearance, some changing effect ; like the coast at Båhuslän, the sea is sometimes a stilly lake inside the granite wall, and without that wall it is beating and roaring as though it would fain break its bounds.

And so we very comfortably, and in the judgment of some of our party, I should say, happily, reach Helsingfors, the present capital of Finland.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

When the spinning-wheels hummed busily

In the days when the spinning-wheels hummed busily in the farmhouses-- and even great ladies, clothed in silk and thread-lace, had their toy spinning-wheels of polished oak--there might be seen in districts far away among the lanes, or deep in the bosom of the hills, certain pallid undersized men, who, by the side of the brawny country-folk, looked like the remnants of a disinherited race.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

In the present day of rush and hurry

In the present day of rush and hurry, there is little time for “home” example. To the over-busy or gaily fashionable, “home” might as well be a railroad station, and members of a family passengers who see each other only for a few hurried minutes before taking trains in opposite directions. The days are gone when the family sat in the evening around the fire, or a “table with a lamp,” when it was customary to read aloud or to talk. Few people “talk well” in these days; fewer read aloud, and fewer still endure listening to any book literally word by word.

Railroad station reading is as much in vogue as railroad station bolting of meals. Magazines—“picture” ones—are all that the hurried have time for, and even those who profess to “love reading” dart tourist-fashion from page to page only pausing at attractive paragraphs; and family relationships are followed somewhat in the same way.
Emily Post: Etiquette (1922)