And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheel’d universe,
And I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.
Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself" (1892)
Loading paving stones aboard a schooner, Lane's Cove|
Barbara Erkkila Collection, Cape Ann Museum
"Americans and Irishmen Must Go, we have no Use for Them."
A "box" of Finns marked "Here we are, now for the Granite Quarries."
"Wanted 10,000 Foreign Quarrymen, no Yankees need Apply. None but Finlanders are wanted."
The Finns took a communal view toward their own welfare. In a column titled "Scared Away" the Boston Globe reported on men and women challenging strikebreakers brought in by the Rockport Granite Company. "The word was passed to march on the Italians' shanty at Bay View. A cheering crowd of 700, followed by the women, waving their aprons, then commenced a march across country." 2
It was a shared vision rooted in cooperative self-reliance. "On July 2, 1903 mother (Alexandra), Heino, and I left the Seppala home in Teuva Finland on a two-seated horse-drawn wagon with mother's mother driving, for the new land America....and finally by electric street car to Folly Cove where father was waiting to greet us....After mother's arrival at Folly Cove with its humming activity, she was at first overwhelmed by it all. However, after a quiet period (and a good cry) one day by herself sitting on the rocks at Folly Cove ...she suddenly said to herself 'This is it.' And she never cried again!" 3
|Samuel and Alexandra Seppala and family, 1927|
Waino's fifth grade class met in Wainola Hall when the Lane School overflowed. It was also a meeting place for musical, theatrical, athletic, and unionizing activities. The community managed to gather resources, time and energy for its indigenous welfare.
|Wainola Hall 5|
|Compressed air drill, Flat Ledge Quarry, 1892 6|
That silicosis became a national crisis in the 1930s is traceable in part to its prevalence among sand casting workers in the much larger iron industry, and to the newfound political will during The Depression for Federal Government's role in social welfare. "It brought into question one of the central beliefs of the twentieth century--that technological innovation and the growth of industry would produce general improvements in the quality of people's lives. This disease was understood to be produced by the very machines and technical innovations that were at the root of America's industrial might." 7 The silicosis crisis contributed to a long and still uncompleted evolution of responsibility for conditions in the workplace.
Sources1. Gloucester Daily Times, July 5, 1888.
2. Boston Globe, April 28, 1899.
3. Hilma Seppala Sauter's story courtesy of her niece Sandra Jamieson; Seppala family photo from Zenas and Merry Seppala.
4. Waino T. Ray, A Young Finn on Cape Ann, 1997.
5. Reproduced from Souvenirs of Lanesville by John and Betty Anne Erkkila, 2016.
6. From the Nickerson Collection, in Roger Martin's A Rockport Album, 1998.7. David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz, Deadly Dust, 1991.