Sunday, April 15, 2012

Treasure Box of Stories

Exactly hundred years ago, a well-known ship Titanic was about to sink. On the deck before the ship sank, was a Finnish-born couple in their thirties and their Finnish friend, aged 17. The husband of the couple was a reverend named William (originally Wilhelm) Lahtinen, the woman his wife Anna. Their friend was their relative named Lyyli Silvén. She was with them to emigrate to United States. The couple had been living there before. Their destination was Minneapolis in Minnesota.
As we all now know, there were not enough life boats on the ship. Anna was given one of the last seats in life boat number 16. But in the last minute, she decided to stay with her husband. They had lost their little daughter to tuberculosis only some weeks before. Anna gave her place in the life boat to Lyyli. As the last glimpse of their friends, Lyyli saw Anna being nervous on the deck as William was smoking his cigar calmly. She never saw them again.
Lyyli and the others, including Lyyli's friend Anna Siukkonen, in life boat 16, were rescued to Carpathia, brought to Jewish 'Welcome Home' in New York in address 225 East 13th Street.
We don't know much about Lyyli's later times, though she was in letter contact with some relatives in Finland. She married a man named Otto Mailanen, apparently also of Finnish origin. She lived her life and died in Berkeley, California in 1974, 62 years after the sinking disaster. She was 79 years old. 
The connection to this blog is that Lyyli was my late grandmother's cousin. My maternal grandmother was thirteen years younger than Lyyli. My grandmother died in 1973. I was then only six months old.
I heard about this Titanic story only in the late 1990's when living in Turku, Finland. It was natural for me to start digging information from the website archives at the time. I ended up going through some of the Migration Institute archives which, by coincidence, were located only a short distance away, also in Turku.
At that time I wondered what kind of subconscious interest I had had of Titanic all the years before. When I was in second grade in school in early 1980's, I remember having written a story about Titanic. If there were coloring books, which had Titanic in them, I immediately bought them.
Surely Titanic drew interest to just about anyone. During my studies in Turku, I was working as a security guard. I remember seeing the crowds coming out of the cinema when the film Titanic was just out. One of the local, worn-out street bums known to me, walked out of the cinema telling he had gone to see the film. The whole story had to have some tragic magic in it.
It's now hundred years from the disaster. There are no survivors left. But the story continues. It's a treasure box for opening old and new stories. What happened to the people inside. To the ones who survived. To the people who were connected to the people who had experienced the night. This network could go on forever.
In this blog, I'll be bringing up hopefully interesting stories, comments and observations of life and its more or less quirky events. They may not be as monumental as the story of Titanic was, but some might have a big meaning to just one person somewhere.
Hoping you'll enjoy the journey. Hopefully there aren't that many icebergs on the way.



  1. Onnea uudelle blogille!!

  2. Onnea blogille!
    laitoin linkin suomalaiselle kaverilleni, joka kiinnostunut Titanic'ista - varmaan ok?

  3. Kiitokset. :)
    Linkkiä blogiin saa laittaa jakoon. Blogi ei ole mitenkään suljettu.