Jonathan Ratila Fitchburg 2008
7th Finglish trip August 2008 #13
Jonathan Ratila is a fourth generation American Finn. He has worked as a business manager for the Finnish American newspaper Raivaaja. As a small boy he saw TV shows about several ethnic groups -- but never about the Finns. His parents taught him only a few words of their native tongue, a member of the Finno-Ugric language group.
When he discovered Raivaaja, he recalls, "I thought, 'We have a newspaper!' " Raivaaja was the longest-running Finnish-language newspaper in America, which ceased to be published soon after its 100th anniversary in 2009. It became The Pioneer, a web publication in English. In its prime, Raivaaja had its own printing house.
In Fitchburg, Massachusetts, rapid industrialization also attracted Finnish immigrants. The industrial workers were actively involved in different pastimes and the ideology of the labour movement spread. At the edge of the local athletic field is the Sisu (Finnish for “guts”) monument. This small town still has Saima Park, where Midsummer celebrations are held for Finns and which is rented to outsiders for celebrations.
Next Betsy Hannula Westminster Massachusetts USA