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February 07, 1957 - Image 11

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Thursday February 7 1957

T HE MI CH IGA N D A ILY

Pcge Eleven

Thursday I February,7,1957 THE MICH-GAN DAILYtoaae-Eleven

A Finnish Journey
Traveling in the Pine-Wrapped Corner of the Earth'

By WILLIAM WEST
W\HEN I went to Europe in the
fall of 1954 to spend a year in
Germany as an exchange teacher,
I intended to travel as much as
possible in Central Europe; but I
had no intention of making a trip
to Finland. Of all the free coun- ~
tries of Europe, Finland seemed to
me the most remote, the most in-
accessible, and, frankly, the most
uninteresting.
While in Germany, however, I
had the good fortune to meet two
Finish women at an internation-
al teachers' meeting and we be-
came good friends. They talked a"
great deal about their country,
not with any sense of aggressive
patriotism but with a kind ofe
tested, tough devotion to a land
poor in physical resources but
strong in its readiness to fight and
sacrifice to keep its pine-wrapped fTHE LAND OF THE GOLDEN NOR
corner of the earth free. I became ... the vast plains of Ostrobothnia
convinced that the stories I had
heard about the "fearless Finns" was travelling. The man inside, priate phrases. Unfortunately the
were correct, that they were a however, in his late 30's or early book contained little of worth;
people who understood and cher- 40's, seemed uninterested in my such phrases as "Please pass the
ished the subtle quality of bravery. map; he smiled and beckoned for potatoes," and "What time does
I decided, in short, to go to Fin- me to get in the five o'clock train leave for
land. Our language handicaps in- Helsinki?"
My plan was, after visiting my mediately became apparent. First
friends at Vamala and Tampere, he addressed me in Finnish, to AT NOONTIME. we arrived at
to hitch-hike to the far North, which I could only shake my head, a small town which, like most
crossing the Arctic Circle and I, in turn, tried him in English Finnish towns that I saw, seemed
Lapland to reach Troms on the and German with similar results. only temporarily to have displaced
northern coast of Norway. My Next my companion pointed to the the original orest. The houses
friends admonshed me not to flag on my bag and then at me were low and built of wood; and
make the attempt. In the first I nodded in the affirmative. Then though sturdy, they were unob-
place, they said, roads in Finland, he pointed to the trade name on trusive and quiet in design. My
outside the coastal regions of the the dash board of his car and IJ companion was obviously well-
South, are unpaved and generally ! saw that it was a Russian mnu- acquainted with the place because
not good. Furthermore, what facture. He glanced over to see he drove without hesitation to a
roads there are have little traffic how I had taken the news and I modest hotel in the center of town.
and the possibilities for lifts are smiled. He, in turn, laughed; Z As he got out of the car, I as-
scarce. Moreover, they reported, laughed, too, and away we went, snmned that this was the end of the
almost no one hitch-hikes in Fin- more comfortable than before in ride. However, he motioned for
land and drivers might not even the knowledge that communica- me to follow so I went with him
realize what I wanted if I stood tion and laughter were possible into the hotel.
by the road and raised a thumb even without words. Inside, he led the way to the
as tiay drove pa. I had five Finnish words at my rather awkwardly modern dining
What they told me was true. command. I could say 'ys," "no," room. We seated ourselves and in
ut they forgot that one aspect "beautiful," "good," and "thank a moment the waitress appeared
of bravery is the ability to extend you." Occasionally I would let my with menus. After looking at
hospitality and since the success companion know that I found the mine, I shrugged my shoulders;
or failure of hitch-hiking depends silent, stately landscape of pine but my companion took matters
upon the hospitality (or bravery) and rock "Kaunis" (beautiful; in hand and proceeded to place
of the drivers one encounters, they and when the car crashed in and the order,
were not altogether right in warn- out of a particularly nasty chuck- To my surprise, however, the
ing me against the trip. I think it hole from time to time with ap- waitress only brought food for me
very probable that anyone who parent ease, I indicated that it, and the meal she placed on the
hitch-hikes through a country was, after all, "hyva" (good). I table was not only generous, it
knows something rather important had brought, before leaving Jyvas- was practically vigorous: meat,
about its people; because it is not kyla, a Finnish-English phrase potatoes, vegetables, salad, milk,
the timorous, the anxious, who book and in-between holes and and desert. By miming the eating
stop for riders. As for the Finns? bumps, I began leafing through it gestures and pointing at him, I
Let me tell of one day's experience. to see if I could find some appro- asked my companion if he weren't
WAS ON the road just north of
Jyvaskyl one morning about
nine o'clock when I heard a car
approaching some distance behindj
me. It was not yet visible because
of the trees which flanked the
winding road but the sound of the
tires working over the gravel gave;
warning. I turned to face the car,
set my bag on the ground at my
feet where the American flag,
which I had sewn to it, was visible,
and put out my thumb. The car
appeared moving fast, came near,
and stopped suddenly at my side.
Because I speak no Finnish, I
opened my map outside the car MIDNIGHT SUN IN FINLAND
and indicated on it the route I ... more than a finger on a map

cdent funds therein to cover the
cost of the meal; but without
success.
ONCE AGAIN in the car, there
seemed to be some uncertainty
as to the road to be followed,
My companion was watching the
road markers and once or twice
called out the window to gather
information from a passer-by.
Eventually, however, we arrived
at an unpaved street along which
a few unpretentious wooden
houses were located. We pulled
up in front of one of them and
my companion went to the door
which was opened by a young girl.
They greeted one another with
hand-shakes and stood talking for
a few minutes; then both returned
to the car and got inside, the
driver behind the wheel and the
girl in the back.
"Guten Tag," she said, then
paused, thought a moment, and,
carefully selecting her words, ex-
plained that in the restaurant my
companion had met her father
who had suggested that his daugh-
ter might be of some assistance as
an interpretor. She apologized for
her German but said she would
try to translate for her Finnish
compatriot who had something hue
wanted to say to me. It was this:
If I needed money, he was pr2-
pared to give me some. It was
{ one of the high moments of my
year in Europe. I learned later
that the man was a simple farmer,
head of a household living on an
isolated farm in central Finland
where life is unadorned to the
See FINNISH, Page 14

TI
eating, too: but he shook his head
and rose from the table. I had no
idea at the time where he was
going. While I ate he moved
around the restaurant addresing
some few words to everyone there;
and I discovered later that he was
trying to find someone who spoke
my own language
By the time I'd finished. he was
sitting opposite me again with a
pleased expression on his face.
The waitress returned with the
check which he took and insisted
on paying even though I protested
as much as anyone can without
words by taking out my wallet
and showing him that I had suffi-

-i,
hdds om'-e
comfort.. iJ ' +'
True-moccaain conatruction,
for indoors and out
MENWS ...$13.50
WOMEN'S . .$10.50
VAN BOVEN SHOES
17 Nickels Arcade

I

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216 W. William Street Ann Arbor, Michigan
Telephone NO 8-8014
We Have All Kinds of Glass-Mirrors and Furniture Tops
We Have the Nationally Advertised Paints
You Can Park Right in Front of Our Store

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WF/ H-AVFC RFFNKS 'ICIM(. THE C(YflAN IIi~TV CFOR 67 VWARS

I l Kr l1 G D C I . _ - _ _-I I r- - - --1V 1 i ~ m 1 1 L 1 1

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