Long before Enni Perkiomaki immigrated to the United States in 1961 with her husband, Osmo, and their two children, Enni had heard wondrous tales of her relatives crossing the Atlantic to North America. Her grandfather worked in the Redwoods in Northern California in the late 1800s, earning enough money to go back to Finland to buy a large farm. Also in the late 1800s, Enni's relatives homesteaded in Western Washington, in the area of Lake Sammamish, where they are to this day. Enni's own mother was born in Canada and had dual Finnish/Canadian citizenship all her life.
Is it no wonder then, that Enni felt comfortable about her family crossing the Atlantic once more when Osmo suggested it in the late 1950s? Finland was suffering from hard economic times and a precarious political situation with the Cold War Soviet Union as a next-door neighbor. And although they had a comfortable middle class lifestyle, Osmo felt the family could do better in America.
Osmo and Enni made their home in Astoria in 1961, both working very hard and saving money at every chance so they could send their children to college and realize other dreams. Osmo, who passed away three years ago, was a shareholder and worked at the Astoria Plywood Mill. Enni worked at Bumble Bee Seafoods as the laundry lady. She fondly remembers the friends she made there. She recalls with delight how some friends there mistook her for a college girl. Enni was just a little older than 30 when she moved to Astoria, and she was always short and lively.
Now retired, Enni has lived at the same address in Astoria, with the same telephone number, for 44 years. How many people can claim to have had the same telephone number and address for 44 years in this day and age? Well, that is Enni's way. Enni thrives on stability, home and family. And she's always there to help her friends or family who are in need.
Enni loves Astoria, and many people here know of her "pulla" bread, the Scandinavian sweet cardamom bread. When helpers do odd jobs at her house, they sometimes ask for payment in "pulla" instead of money. Enni's great talent for cooking is inherited from her mother, especially Finnish dishes such as "rosoli," "laksloda," "riisipuuro" (rice pudding), "lutefish," "lihapullat" (meatballs) and of course, "pulla."
But Enni has become a master of Northwest cooking as well, and she grills a mean beef steak. And watch out for her recipes for salmon, oysters, razor clams and Dungeness crab. Don't forget the blackberry pie and raspberry pie. Yum! It's enough to make you gain a few pounds just thinking about it all.
Enni has become American in other ways too, not just her cooking. She became an American citizen 30 years ago, and she votes in every election. When she visits with her grandchildren, she speaks to them in English, although she gets in a Finnish lesson whenever she can. But she still speaks Finnish to her son Jukka, who is a dentist, and her daughter Sirpa, who is a community college instructor.
Enni's life is full and rich with family and friends. She is an active member of Ladies of Kaleva, Finnish Brotherhood and Sisterhood, Peace Lutheran Church and the Astoria Widows' Club. You will often find her having lunch at one of the interesting restaurants around Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Ilwaco or Long Beach, Wash. Thanks to modern technology, Enni, who has a personal computer at home, can easily stay in touch with her relatives in Finland, and if the mouse does not cooperate, there is the telephone. Enni has visited Finland on several occasions, but she never wants to stay there for long, as she gets restless to come back home to Astoria.
Enni Perkiomaki was a young woman when she crossed the Atlantic and settled in Astoria. She has lived in America longer than she ever lived in Finland. And she is very happy here. Her life is full and rich. We can say Enni is a truly successful immigrant and we honor her today.