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Three score and ten or more

Monday, September 26, 2005

Going to Finland, 1954
I have been bemoaning my ability to write anything real for the last few days. I finally just put the thing away and started what old farts like myself often do. That is to explore the past. I was a Mormon missionary in Finland for almost three years in the early fifties. I took many many pictures (slides really) of Finland in that time, so I decided it was time to scan those slides and put them on a CD before I forgot what they were and who was in them. It turned out to be a frustrating thing. Copying slides is no big deal, I have done it a lot, but many many of the slides that I have save from the fifties have aquired blotches, most of them from some kind of mold. I have tried almost everything in the way of film cleaners etc., and have even used some household mold killers (not bleach, I am not that stupid) I have also used the editing capacities of two or three different photo processes (the most successful fromULEAD). At any rate I have a mixed bag of pictures and suddenly it occurred to me to seriously go into the old fart (I really should just say Three score and ten or more, my wife is going to speak unkindly to me when she reads the "old fart" comment, but that's how I feel right now) business and ramble through my memory a bit. What I am actually going to do is post a few pictures of Finland between 1954 and 1957 and you can look at them (or not,) if you choose. I will also tell you about them a bit.

The first picture is from Joensuu, a beautiful town over in east Finland. It is a picture of my first residence in that town. We rented a little room that was warm and cosy but it lacked running water, hygenic facilties etc. What it lacked in facilities, it made up for in bedbugs. You can't really appreciate bed bugs without experiencing them. The little red flat monsters are clever beyond belief. If you put the legs of your bed in cans of kerosene (we did) to keep them from climbing up the legs, they would crawl up the ceiling and dive bomb you. Our poor land lady denied their existence until we began to catch them and pin them to the door. She tried everything she knew to get rid of them but the chemical world then was not like that of today.
We went out to the well to get water, (often putting a large stone in the well bucket to break the ice. It was cold, and it was delicious, but a little close to the outhouse for my comfort. If you look at the picture below, the little pyramid in the back yard is the well. The big brown building next to it contained the "facilities". Rather than a hole in the ground like American outhouses, the Finnish outhouse was "upstairs". The waste fell to the ground and every few weeks a man would come with a wagon (to which we referred as the honeybucket) and empty the waste and carry it away. (I know not where, and I never asked).

Using the facility in the winter in below zero situations was tricky. Fasten to the "seat" of the outhous was a small sledge. It was important to look down the hole before using the john because it froze in a vertical sharp pyramid, and if the sledge were not used occasionally one could have an involutary suppository. (If you don't understand, don't ask.) With all it's vagaries it was truly beautiful and we lived there through most of a winter.

(for some reason --typical of seventy year old computer skills, the picture didn't upload, I'll try it as a separate post above)


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