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February 07, 1957 - Image 18

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Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1957-02-07
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. .

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4,

Thursday, February 7. 1957

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Page Six

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Thursday February 7 1957

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

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I

HOW TO
AN]

TALK AT
B NOTICE

FRIENDS
PEOPLE

COMMENCEMENT
.. opening the conversation

THE SHIFTING OF THE EYES
...boosting the ego of your friends

AN OLD ROUTINE.
... remaining detached and uninvolved

E/ecro*ue

Waving is Here!

FINLAND
(Continued from Page 14)
have been nothing else but the
Finnish word for "American."
Still others came out of the
house. - there must finally have
been ten or more - and each
came forward to shake my hand.
When we went inside, I dis-
covered that I had met only a
portion of the family outside;
there were additional women pre-
paring food, a few hungry children
waiting for supper, and two or
three more men. The oldest wom-
an in the group, probably sixty
or thereabout, was standing bare-
foot before a wood-burning stove
loaded with oversize pans and
kettles of steaming food which she
was in the process of preparing.
Once again I was greeted with
hand-shakes and a friendliness
both shy and wordless.
Dinner that evening was in two
shifts. While the children and
young people ate, the men with-
drew to the Sauna building near-
by where I was a participant in
the rigors of Finnish bathing
which combines the qualities of
fire and ice to clean the body,
shock the senses, and relax the
mind. When we returned, the
large table was again loaded for
us and the women and we sat
down to eat.
T HE MEAL was eaten largely in
silence either ot of deference
to my speaking inability or be-
cause eating is not, in Finland,
accompanied by conversation; or,
I was beginning to think, these
were people who had lived long
and intimately together and found
verbal communication inadequate
or superfluous to their needs.' Oc-
casionally, some one made a quiet
remark and others would look up
or chuckle. That was all.
When dinrer was almost over,
one of the men left the table and
returned with a thin paper-backed
pamphlet which he handed to me.
I opened it and found that it was
evidently a kind of instruction
book for learning beginning Eng-
lish. Appended in the back, I
found a double listing of simple
words, one side English, the other
Finnish; and I went through it
until I found four words which I
pointed out in order to the man
who'd brought me the booklet
to say "You are very kind." He
repeated the sentence and the
others smiled and nodded.
After we had eaten, my friend
motioned for me to follow him
outside. He led the way along a
path through the woods until we
came to a clearing in which a
wooden house stood, solitary,
brown, and sturdy. A man came to
the door and after a brief con-
versation between the two of them,
he turned to me and said, in
German, "Welcome to Finland"
and asked us to come in.
AS IT turned out, the man had
spent two years in Germany
himself, spoke the language flu-
ently, and through him, I was
able to explain more adequately
something about myself for the
benefit of my friend. We had not
been there long, however, before
one of the children whom I had
seen back at the farm house came
in. She said, I learned, that neigh-
bors of theirs who lived in the
summertime on one of the islands
in the lake had stopped over to
call; and finding that a foreign
visitor from America had arrived
wanted to invite me to their is-
land retreat for a cup of coffee. I
said, of course, that I would like
to go.
Four of us went: another young
man and two of the girls. We
rowed across the lake, taking turns
at the oars. It was -not a large

lake and the water was smooth
and unresisting; and before I was
ready to leave the boat, the .calm
of the lake, and the golden gener-
osity of the late evening sky we
had arrived.
our host, who had preceded us
to the island in his own boat, came
out to greet us and ushered --us
inside. The house was tiny; one
room and a kitchen closet. But
it was rough and unfinished and
human and I felt at home as soon
as we had all squeezed inside and

found space to sit. A moment or
two later, the woman of the house
appeared with cups of thick, black
coffee and passed them around.
The conversation was. apparently
about me and, strangely, it even
included me somehow because as
they talked they looked at me
with open and cordial inclusive-
ness. They were people of simple,
miraculous good will. I wished
some further miracle might occur
that would enable me to talk with
them.
WE STAYED rather late because
there was plenty of coffee,
plenty of talk, and plenty of light;
although it was approaching mid-
night, the sky-was still pink-gold
and semi-bright and all the North
seemed timeless and kind. Fur-
thermore, another Finnish-Eng-

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lish dictionary had been dis-
covered plus a map. By pointing
at single words, like sister," and
"age," they could ask me elemen-
tary questions which I could an-'
swer by holding up fingers or
writing numbers; and when they
found the word for "home" I
could show them with the map
where it was. A finger on a map,
of course, is rather impersonal,
but they were people who under-
stood the meaning of the word
and it sufficed.
When we returned to the other
shore, we left the boat at another
landing some distance from our
starting point and walked back
through the woods. It was after
midnight but the sky was still
light and every tree was clearly
visible. The laughter of my com-

panions, as we proceeded, was
small against the wonder of the
night.
Back home again, I found a bed
waiting for me in the living room;
and I fell effortlessly asleep.
THE NEXT morning, early, there
was a big breakfast for every-
one. When it was over, I knew it
was time for me to continue on my
trip and for them to return to
work. I held up my bag to indi-
cate that I was prepared to leave.
Immediately three or four dis-
appeared from the kitchen and
returned with their cameras and
we -went outside to photograph
one another. That done, I shook
hands around the circle and said
to each one "Kiitos" (thank you);
last of all to my friend who had

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