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  • Writer's pictureVesa Oja

Arthur Kahkonen Mecklenburg 2007

5th Finglish trip July 2007 #35

Arthur U. Kahkonen (1913-2008) was born in the town of Plummer, Minnesota, to the late August and Kaisa (Maatta) Kahkonen. Orphaned at the age of 9, he was taken in by his mother's sisters, who had emigrated from Finland at the same time as his parents.

By age 16 he struck out on his own, making a living during the Great Depression at various trades, such as farming with his brother in Van Etten, NY and lumberjacking in Soviet Karelia. Back from Soviet Karelia he worked for a brief time in the steel mills in Baltimore before being blacklisted for union organizing.

With his wife Ellen he moved to New York City, where he worked as a truck mechanic for several years. In 1939 they bought a farm in Mecklenburg, NY, where he lived with his family until the end of his life. For several years, he ran a transmission repair business in Ithaca, called Art's Transmission Service.

Arthur knew how to fix just about anything, and often came up with practical inventions of his own. He even built a working saw mill out of recycled automobile parts. He loved going to the meetings of the Finger Lakes Finns. Arthur was a compassionate man, and was a lifelong supporter of workers' rights and civil rights.

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