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  • Writer's pictureVesa Oja

Richard & Helvi Impola New Paltz 2008

7th Finglish trip September 2008 #40

Richard Impola was born in 1923 in Ahmeek, Michigan. Impola's father moved to Michigan from Siikajoki, Ostrobothnia, Finland, and his mother was born in the US to parents who had emigrated from Pudasjärvi, Northern Ostrobothnia. Richard was the ninth of the ten children in the family. In his childhood he did not speak Finnish, despite living in a community where Finnish was widely spoken.

Impola studied English language and literature at Columbia University, New York. Richard was a professor of English language and literature at the State University of New York, College at New Paltz until 1983, when he retired. After that, he started translating Finnish works into English. Among his translations are Väinö Linna's North Star trilogy, several works by Kalle Päätalo, and Aleksis Kivi's Seven Brothers.

Helvi Impola was born in the Bronx in the Varma Co-op apartement house. Helvi´s family was Finnish Swedish from Rauma, Finland. Helvi´s father was active in the IWW, Industrial Workers of the World. Helvi was sixteen years old when she met Richard at the Harlem 5th Avenue hall where Viola Turpeinen was playing. They started to go to dances at the hall on Wednesdays and Sundays and eventually got married. Many Finns have fond memories of Richard and Helvi leading them in song and dance at many Finnish events.

Their friends and neighbors Irene Vasankari and Marja Delamare have often coffee with them.

Next Vilho & Lillian Harju Carver Massachusetts USA

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