History of Aho Family

Tapes About Hjalmer Aho

Interview with Jim Hendrickson

These were a few comments made by Jim around August 1970. We had mainly talked about Einar in this interview.


What do you remember about Hjalmer?


Well, you know how he always was about girls. He likes them. He always has. Ever since he was a young man.

I was sitting in a car outside of 60th Street, and they were having a party there with Korte's. That was 1950 . That's 20 years ago, so he was 44 off hand... or 42. We had a real nice time, when all of a sudden Hjalmer comes out of the house. I watched him. And he went over around the side and leaned over against the bushes and threw up. He walked back into the house. The whole idea about this was - I mentioned to him about it later - was that he didn't want Margaret to know about it. That he was sick. And I thought that was kind of cute in its own way, you know. Margaret does have a...she's kind of...they're so compatible. Close together.

Then I got a picture of him. He's painting the garage in the back, and he's yelling through the screen door, "Margaret! Get the screw driver. Get me the hammer. More turpentine." And Margaret's running around like crazy.


Now, she does all the painting.


Well, he's got to look after his heart.


Oh, but he does more work - harder work - with his printing business.

Interview with Muggs and Hjalmer

In 1970, when I was staying with them, I asked Muggs and Hjalmer to tell about their lives.


Tell me about your life story.


I wasn't born in a log cabin, but I could have been. I was born on the Wisconsin side, and when we moved, my father built us a house. Out of logs.

I was born in 1907. We moved over to Ironwood, after I was born, and I was raised in Ironwood, Michigan. At that time I had an older sister, Mary. But she died later.

The oldest sister is Martha - the one over in Finland. Then, after me, Tyne is next. And then comes a boy named John, between Tyne and Einar. He died when he was real young. Mary died when she was about 5. I was 4. We both had diphtheria. She died, but I pulled through.

A few years later, we moved around Clifford. Around Knox's Mill, what they called it. My father bought a farm out there. We stayed there until he lost the farm.

We had a big fire from the thunder storm. The lightning hit the barn. They were building a road out there, at the time, and there were about 12 horse in the barn. We had a big barn. The fire got in the hay part of the barn, and it was spreading. Then we had a separate barn, way off from this big building, for our horses and cows.

The men that were keeping these horses were boarding at a different farm a mile away. And they all came running when they saw the fire. They had a real tough time getting their horses out of the burning barn. They had to blindfold the horses with gunnysacks. They got all the horse out before the barn burned down.

We had hay stacked up in the field, and we had to use this for the cows for the rest of the year. We had the one barn left for the cows to keep them in.

Shortly after the fire, Father got drunk and was thrown in jail. He had the mortgage papers in his pocket, so he used the papers to bail himself out. Then the man who owned the farm went and bought the papers. He redeemed the papers and took over the farm. He wasn't a Finn. His name was Bissel, I think. So the land was foreclosed, and we lost it. That is the way they did it in those days. They were crooked.

Then we moved from place to place. Father got work where he could in the lumber camps. Work was scarce at that time. There was some sort of inflation then, too. That was the time around WWI, around 1915. This country entered in 1916-17.

In those years we rented a place in Brantwood. There was a school house, right across the street. I used to go to school there. That was about the first years I was going to school. In my first year in school, I jumped from the 1st grade to the 3rd garde in one year. I was sort of the teacher's pet. I guess the teacher did that, because she liked me. I was really her pet in that school.

One time... Einar wasn't going to school yet, because he was too young, but he was old enough to do things for me. So I skipped school with another boy, and we told Einar to get some tobacco and some matches. And he went into the house and got them for us. We were about 7 years old then. But we never did smoke. We just monkeyed around, and then we started a fire. It was in the spring, and the grass was still sort of gray. The fire got out of hand, and some men had to come and put it out with gunnysacks.

Well, I got a licking from my mother. The school teacher said that if I didn't feel very good after the licking, I didn't have to come to school, but Mother sent me anyway.

You know those baby buggies they used to have with the big wheel and the canopy over it? Tyne and I put Wayne in it and were pushing it, and it got away from us and started to roll down the hill. We ran like heck to catch it, and somehow we got it stopped before anything happened.


It's interesting to look at the old prices from during the Depression.

Hjalmer was working at the newspaper. And don't forget there was his mother and Einar and Wayne and me. Neither Wayne nor Einar were working. Hjalmer just added me to those he was supporting, when we got married.

We'd get a pot roast on the weekend, and we'd have pot roast all week. His mother helped out in the kitchen, too. I would have to get the groceries, because she couldn't speak English, anyways. This was in Duluth.

But when you compare the groceries now with what you paid at that time, it is more than you made in a week then, almost.

Then Einar got a job. I don't know what he was making a week - 5 or 6 dollars. He was delivering the Finnish Daily. Then he got into the mailing department, and he was making more money. Then he was paying about $6 a week room and board. But it was a help no matter what little someone brought in.

I was about 25, just after I got married. It was about 1933. It was getting a bit better in '33 already, the depression was.

Here is the book that I kept my budget. I occasionally go through it, when I am rummaging through a drawer. You can compare the prices with today. I have it added up. For a week, it comes to about $6. Don't forget this was for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 people.

Look. We could get coffee for 34 cents, chops 22 cents, 2 pounds of spinach 10 cents, 2 quarts of mile for 24 cents - so we were paying 12 cents a quart. This was in 1937. Steak for 24 cents...

History of Aho Family