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Aino Backstrand Yonkers 2008


7th Finglish trip September 2008 #37

Aino Backstrand was born in Harlem Finntown in 1921. Her mother was from Honkajoki and her father was from Alajoki. In her childhood she lived with her mother for 14 years in three different Finnish rooming houses around Harlem Finntown. Aino´s mother worked as a maid. Aino´s father had moved back to Finland.

Aino married Elis Backstrand in 1943 in New York City. Elis was born in Finland, he came to the US at the age of 17. After working for a short while, he then joined the US Navy where he served in the Pacific Theatre as a Navy Seabee. He then worked in heavy construction as a carpenter for the Slattery Company in NYC. He was a member of Sibelius Bredablick Mason Lodge.

Aino worked as a market researcher for the Look magazine. In the 1970s, several American Finns worked on the World Trade Center building site. Elis Backstrand was employed in making the ground-floor staircase. When the towers collapsed as a result of the terrorist strike in 2001, Backstrand, who was already elderly at the time, was told that his staircase withstood the attack.

Elis died in 2007 and Aino keeps his ashes in an urn on the table beside his portraits. For Aino Elis was a fine man. Aino hopes that Elis would have even been nasty at times, so the longing for Elis would not have been so huge.


Next June Lahti Yonkers New York USA

#Yonkers #Harlem #Finntown #Honkajoki #Alajoki #NewYorkCity #USNavy #PacificTheatre #NavySeabee #SlatteryCompany #SibeliusBredablickMasonLodge #Lookmagazine #WorldTradeCenter

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