In 1962, when Niilo got accepted to graduate school 4500+ miles away, Koponens had a rousing driveway auction, then loaded up the TravelAll and trailer with horse Kijafa, dogs Maya and AbiYoYo, the 7 family members, and lots of stuff.
I remember being excited but sad as we pulled out of the driveway, leaving cats Fancy and Gypsy in the care of renters, and yelling, “Good-bye House! Good-bye Trees! Good-bye Home!” I always believed we were coming back.
Indeed, Dad graduated from Harvard with his doctorate in Education in 1966, and we narrowly escaped moving elsewhere, and excitedly headed home: Dad, Alex & Heather on the TransCanada RailRoad, Mom, Sanni, Chena + Ruthie & Ollie + 2 horses and 1 dog in the TravelAll and trailer, Nonni separately by air after canoe camp in Canada.
Many wonderful adventures were had. I loved the train trip, and remember especially the fold-away berths, delicious meals, and Dad teaching us to play Spades and Wist (which I have since forgotten.)
The best part was getting Home again.
I remember dozens of mice (actually voles and shrews) scurrying under the cupboards as we stepped through the entry. A new cat soon remedied that, and so began a new chapter…
I probably was in touch with you at the times of your impressive travellogue, but don’t remember much about it.
Thanks, Harry and Danny, for your responses. (And sorry for the delayed reply when wordpress format changed, I didn’t catch on…hk) Danny, I told Niilo (Dad) your message; unsure if he remembered or just unable to communicate it. Harry, thanks so much for filling in some more history! More chapters are welcome any time. Heather
But I want to put on record when I first heard of Niilo and of our first meeting. I joined the Young Peoples Socialist League in Chicago in Spring 1952. I lived in Whitman House Co-op in Hyde Park where there were 7 of us comrades. Then YPSL National Chair Dick Frederickson raved about how he enjoyed meeting with Niilo, a felliow Finn of mine at a YPSl summer organizing project in Reading, PA. I found that Niilo and I came from the same Finnish immigrant Socialist Party family background. In February or so, 1954, we heard that Niilo,by then married to Joan with infant son Karjala, were returning from the East Coast to Fairbanks where they had established the homestead. They would be driving though Chicago. So our SP Local in Chicago decided to hold a party for the Koponens. There was a Finn Hall at 42nd & Lincoln on the North Side, in which we reneted a meeting place. The meeting was one of our most successful and enabled to get toi know the Koponens personally. There was a sauna and a bar at the hall, and I remember sharing a beer with Niilo in the bar and talking Finnish with him and the bartender. The next day or so the Koponens continued on their journey to AK. That was the beginning of a long and great friendship up to the present. Terveisin, Harry
If there is any way to whisper Danny Bloom says BIG HELLO to Niilo from Juneau-Tokyo-Taipei cave, age 63, Capital City Weekly long ago, please do. L’chayim!