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  • Writer's pictureVesa Oja

Heinola 2005

2nd Finglish trip August 2005 #7

”Don't go there!” cries a voice in Finnish from the shadows when Don Maunumaki commands his dogs Pekka and Maija. We are in Heinola, Minnesota. Donald speaks fluent Finnish, although he has never visited his homeland of his grandparents.

Don Maunumaki spent his working career at the Heinola gas station, but as the village has died down he has moved on to run the livestock farm established by his grandparents, who came from Finland in the 19th century. Don is now thinking of giving up the farm, because of the recent death of his brother with whom he managed the farm.

Three stores, a dance pavilion, a dairy and a gas station... Nothing left of them any here in Heinola, in the middle of fields of corn and sunflowers. New York Mills, a few miles away provides the services that the residents of Heinola need.

Raymond Bentley's grandmother's place, the old Tapio farm, is now the Finn Creek Open Air Museum. His mother was born there, the daughter of Siffert from Jurva, Finland and Wilhelmiina, from Ii in northern Finland. They were granted the homestead in 1900. Raymond Bentley's parents were Norman and Tekla Bentley. The father's family was originally named Penttilä in Finnish. One of Raymond's nephews recently changed his name back to Penttilä.

Raymond Bentley spent his whole working life as a first mate of an iron freighter on the Great Lakes. He would sail seven days a week from Marquette to Cleveland and Buffalo; his only longer holidays at home were during Christmas time. Now in retirement, he volunteers at the local heritage museum.

Next Palo Minnesota USA

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