AROUND LA WITH AVA®: Honoring Jörn Donner

Kuva: Jonny Kahleyn Dieb

We in LA honor the life and legacy of Finnish icon of literature, film and politics, Jörn Donner, as he is laid to rest in Helsinki today February 21, 2020. Donner was a former Consul General of Finland here in Los Angeles.

Kuva: Jonny Kahleyn Dieb
Jörn Donner by Pekka Elomaa

Migrationsinstitutet – The Migration Institute of Finland to archive all content from


On my recent trip to FinnFest in Detroit, Michigan, I met the director of Migration Institute of Finland, Tuomas Martikainen. I expressed him my wish to archive the pages of, because they contain lots of stories about Finnish-American people and events.

Well, today I got an email from the institute and I’m pleased to inform, that pages of will be preserved for posterity by the Migration Institute of Finland!

Migration Institute of Finland in Turku

I want to thank all of you, who have participated in our little website, whether as readers, contributors, or interview subjects and the institute for including us. I especially want to thank Ava Anttila, who has been writing several columns about the local goings on in her column Around L.A. with Ava.

Thank you!

Tomi Hinkkanen

Kauneimmat Joululaulut (Most Beloved Christmas Songs) Services in the Western US and Mexico – 2019

Kauneimmat joululaulut is a holiday tradition in Finland brought to the United States and Mexico by the Finnish Lutheran Church. People gather to sing the most loved Christmas Songs from Finland, along with other traditional Christmas songs with Finnish lyrics.

This fall, there will be seven Kauneimmat Joululaulut services sponsored by the Finnish Lutheran Church of California and Texas, held in Mexico City, Mexico; California, Texas, and Minnesota.

The complete schedule is as follows:

Los Angeles (Santa Monica, CA) – Sunday, December 1 at 1 p.m.

Featuring Rev. Dr. Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen and Music Director Selma Seppänen, M. Mus.,

followed by a Finnish Coffee Hour.

L.A. Suomikirkko – Finnish Lutheran Church of Los Angeles*

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church (

958 Lincoln Blvd.

Santa Monica, CA 90403

(Parking lot across the street from the church)

Mexico City – Sunday, December 1

with communion, followed by a Finnish Coffee Hour.

Featuring Rev. Dr. Jarmo Tarkki, Rev. Auvo Naukkarinen and Music Director Terhi Miikki-Broersma, M. Mus.

This is a private event in conjunction with the Finnish Embassy in Mexico.

Dallas (Coppell, TX) – Saturday, December 7 at 5 p.m.

Featuring Rev. Dr. Jarmo Tarkki and Music Director Ruusamari Teppo, M. Mus.,

followed by a Finnish Coffee Hour.

Dallasin Suomikirkko – Finnish Lutheran Church of Northern Texas*

Rejoice Lutheran Church (
532 E Sandy Lake Rd
Coppell, Texas 75019

Sacramento (Roseville, CA) – Wednesday, December 11 at 6:30 p.m.

Featuring Rev. Dr. Jarmo Tarkki and Music Director Terhi Miikki-Broersma, M. Mus.,

with communion, followed by a Finnish Coffee Hour.

Sponsored by Finlandia Club of Sacramento Valley/$10 donation to cover travel expenses.

Bethel Lutheran Church (

1050 Douglas Blvd.

Roseville, CA 95678

San Francisco/San Jose (Palo Alto, CA, NEW LOCATION) – 

Thursday, December 12 at 7:30 p.m.

Featuring Rev. Dr. Jarmo Tarkki and Music Director Terhi Miikki-Broersma, M. Mus.

Piilaakson Suomikirkko – Finnish Lutheran Church of Silicon Valley* 

Grace Lutheran Church (

3149 Waverley Street

Palo Alto, CA 94306

Minneapolis, MN – Saturday, December 14 at 1 p.m.

Featuring Rev. Dr. Jarmo Tarkki and Music Director Terhi Miikki-Broersma, M. Mus.,

followed by Joulu–Finnish Christmas marketplace, music, coffee and treats, 2:30-5 p.m.

Christ Church Lutheran (

3244 34th Ave. S.

Minneapolis, MN 55406

San Diego (Poway, CA) – Sunday, December 15 at 3 p.m.

Featuring Rev. Dr. Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen and Music Director Selma Seppänen, M. Mus.,

followed by a Finnish Coffee Hour.

San Diegon Suomikirkko – Finnish Lutheran Church of San Diego*

Incarnation Lutheran Church (
16889 Espola Rd

Poway, CA 92064

*Remember to support your church by making a generous contribution (tax-deductible for those who itemize).

The Finnish Lutheran Church of California and Texas is a joint project between the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Evangelical Church of America to serve Finns living in the US. The church is also attended by those of Finnish descent who want a connection to their Finnish heritage. The ministry is led by Rev. Dr. Jarmo Tarkki and Associate Pastors Rev. Dr. Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen and Rev. Dr. Kirsi Stjerna. Regular services are held in Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, San Diego and Dallas. Confirmation Class and special services including baptisms, weddings, and funerals are also available. We are fortunate to have three wonderful Music Directors; Terhi Miikki-Broersma, M.Mus., Selma Seppänen, M.Mus., and Ruusamari Teppo, M. Mus.


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Ava Anttila by Jonny Kahleyn Dieb

Ava Anttila by Jonny Kahleyn Dieb

In honor of International Women’s Day this week (March 8), we are featuring an Around LA with Ava column from a few years ago entitled WOMEN:


Things to Ponder Category:

Why is there a Women’s History Month when there is not a Men’s History Month?

Women still seem to be considered a minority even though they populate half of the world.  Most men will acknowledge that we women have been running ‘things’ for quite a while, even if in a quiet, ‘behind-the-scenes’ way.  However, now that so many men now report to women bosses in the workplace, it is best not to press that issue.


Anyway, I am all for celebrating.  Any excuse for a party, n’est pas?

The first Women’s Month celebration I can remember was hosted by dear friend Bitte Westerlund, wife of former Consul General Jörn Donner, during their tenure here in LA.  It was a remarkable event.  Attending were this area’s most prominent women in politics, business, film, and the like.  Nothing like this had been held before.  All of us attending were so excited to be a part of something new –we felt a universal bond.  Connie Rice [no, not the Secretary—she is a civil rights attorney], Beata Pozniak, Elina Vesara, Ruth Goldway, Dr. Leena Peltonen-Palotie, and so many others were brought together by Bitte.   It is hard to get Finns together collectively, but Bitte “leaned in” and her personal force has left an indelible mark on the LA scene and on the Finnish women’s dynamic.  We are eternally grateful in the Finnish community for her contributions during her time here.

Bitte Westerlund_Ava

Bitte Westerlund


This has been a big year for celebrating Women’s History Month.

Easter weekend marked the 100th anniversary of Suffrage for Women in the US [1913].  Finnish women gained full political rights in 1906, even before our homeland won its Independence.  Finland was the first nation in the world to have women elected to its Parliament [1907].

Women representatives at the Finnish parliament in 1907

Women representatives at the Finnish parliament in 1907

Finnish women have been particularly on my mind with their awesome accomplishments [no bias—just pride!].  I was led to reflect on the famous Finnish females who have graced our sunny Southern California shores when now retired Ambassador Maria Serenius  returned ‘home’ this March.  Maria was the first woman Finnish Consul General in Los Angeles.

Ava with Ambassador Maria Serenius

Ava with Ambassador Maria Serenius

As a ‘fringe benefit’ of being active in local Finnish groups and programs –and, if you are willing to get downtown for a 7 AM breakfast, you get to ‘visit’ with some really neat people.  Sometimes those visits are in a ‘small group’ setting as a few of us experienced with the then Foreign Minister Tarja Halonen who went on to serve as Finland’s President for 12 years.  I can remember the Finnish pride I felt as Minister Halonen answered a tricky question about Finland’s vaunted neutrality and the NATO participation requirement for membership in European Union that was in final formation stages.  The future President proved her diplomatic ‘chops’ with an answer she may have been ‘trying out’ for similar questions from a larger audience in the future: NATO participation is problematic for Finland.  Since we have the longest border with Russia, I propose that Finland secure that border and let NATO take care of the rest.  Poised, confident, and bold in her answer, there were no follow-up questions on the subject.

Finland’s First Female Ambassador to the United States Visits:

Speaking of famous Finnish females, I hope you got to meet Ritva Koukku-Ronde, Finland’s first female Ambassador to the United States on her recent West Coast visit.  The Ambassador joined Consul General Kirsti Westphalen and Honorary Consul Kathryn Mautino in San Diego before being the Guest of Honor and Keynote Speaker at the Finlandia Foundation National’s 60th Anniversary Celebration in Pasadena.

Ambassador Ritva Koukku-Ronde at Finlandia Foundation’s 60th Anniversary celebration.

Finlandia Foundation National’s Performers of the Year:

Marja Kaisla (FFN Performer of the Year 2013) and Maria Mannisto (FFN Performer of the Year 2007) each performed in concert for the large and appreciative 60th Anniversary Celebration audience.

Finlandia Foundation National’s Lecturer of the Year:

Dr. Glenda Dawn Goss

As part of the 60th Anniversary Celebration, FFN showcased their 2012 Lecturer of the Year, Glenda Dawn Goss, on Friday night preceding the Anniversary Gala.  Dr. Goss made Finland’s cultural awakening come to life through her unique presentation on the life of Jean Sibelius.  She used music, historical slides, and personal descriptions in her scholarly evaluation.  Dr. Goss’s personal perspective comes as a scholar from Georgia (in the American South) who has lived in Finland since 1998.

Dr. Goss made Finland’s cultural awakening come to life through her unique presentation on the life of Jean Sibelius.

Dr. Goss made Finland’s cultural awakening come to life through her unique presentation on the life of Jean Sibelius

Those of us in the sold-out audience were taken back in time by a description of the life of Sibelius that also detailed how the Maestro came to be such an important and recognized figure in the United States.

She declared that Sibelius created “…what it means to be Finnish” and, thereby, paved the way for the Golden Age of Arts that was to follow.  This was the awakening of the Finnish Identity.  I think Finns all have the sounds of Sibelius’s music burned in our hearts, minds, and souls –an affirmation of our Finnish pride.

I can’t wait to read Dr. Goss’s new biography: Sibelius: A Composer’s Life and the Awakening of Finland; University of Chicago Press; 2009.

A Little Girl Remembers:

Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco

Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco

As a youngster my parents would put me on a Greyhound bus, alone, headed for San Francisco  from the San Jose depot [no one would dare do that today, I know—different time/different rules].  My Pirkko-täti (a vivacious single lady in those days) would take me to a record shop by Ghirardelli Square on those visits.  I remember the shop because Sibelius played in the background, just like home!  The owner of the shop had a ‘thing’ for my aunt, I think.  Once, he bent down and told me “ …you will never be fit to marry unless you know all of the symphonies of Sibelius”.

That long-buried memory came back as I listened to Dr. Goss’s lecture.  Still, I do keep playing those symphonies!

More About FFN Lecturer of the Year Program:

LOY is a national initiative by Finlandia Foundation National started in 2006.  The program’s aim is to promote Finland and to explain the Finnish-American connection.

An early FNN/LOY I supported at the Beverly Hills Library was a fascinating presentation by Susan Saarinen (granddaughter of Eliel and Loja Saarinen) and Mark Coir (architectural historian).  That too was an excellent program with talks that illuminated the international exhibit on Finnish architect Eero Saarinen’s life and work that toured the US for several years.  Saarinen’s work in the US [TWA at JFK/Dulles at Washington, DC—and his LA work with Eames of chair fame] is well known and admired.

These programs are so well organized, inspiring, informative, and fun!!  When you leave, you want to be sure your fellow attendees know you are Finnish too—even though boasting is not permitted!

FFN Is 60!!:

The crown jewel of activities in the Finnish community this March was Finlandia Foundation National’s 60th Anniversary Gala Dinner and Concert.  Finland’s Ambassador to the United States Ritva Koukku-Ronde was the Honored Guest and Keynote Speaker.

Marvin Suomi served as Master of Ceremonies.  With Marvin was his lovely wife Marieclaire even though the whole Suomi family was leaving for Japan the next morning when the children’s Spring Break began.

Ava with Andrea McAleenan of Azusa-Pacific University

The evening was informative and entertaining.  It was a delight to meet the many Trustees of FFN.  Tarja Silverman (a FFN Trustee from New York) was seated at my table.  Between us was one of my favorite local Finns and long time friend Heidi Crooks (Chief Nursing Officer of the UCLA Health System).  Andrea McAleenan of Azusa-Pacific University (formerly in charge of the EU Center at the Claremont Colleges) dropped by to say hello and to remind us all to attend FinnFest ’13 being held on the Finlandia University Campus in June on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Finlandia University President Philip Johnson was in attendance, as well.

Hollywood in the Desert:   

After Awards Season in LA [aka Winter], the fancy gowns are out and everyone is still in a festive mood ready for the next big party.  When Hollywood quiets down, the real fun, social scene moves with the ‘glitterati’ to the California desert.  They are joined by the “snowbirds” from colder climates who have the resources and resolve to ‘get out of Dodge’ before the snow flies!

My dear old Hollywood friend (the late Greta Peck) loved her ‘Winter’ time with her ‘crowd’ in the warm and welcoming desert with all the activities and ‘goings-on’.  She loved to tell tales—but my lips are sealed.  In the sweltering Summer months, the place turns into a ghost town.  Now, in high season, the streets are bumper to bumper and dinner reservations at the top restaurants are a precious commodity.  The parties go on late into the night in this warm, happy party town.

Greta Peck and Ava Anttila

A desert resurgence has taken place as a new generation has taken over with second/third… homes in lavish surroundings.  Private jets now vie with commercial airliners for space at the Palm Springs Airport.  Those who can do live in leisure and luxury.  Even those who still work can carry an electronic ‘office’ and are able to shuttle back and forth depending on the season, the reason, or the event.  Smiles, tans, and good moods abound.  A strong sense of philanthropy dominates the social world and many charities benefit from those ‘goings-on’.

Golf, Tennis, Pools, and Pageants:

Golf, tennis, and pools have long been desert daytime staples.  Professional golf and tennis tours have major tournaments in the desert during March each year.  Following an afternoon of watching the professionals play, an evening of talk over cocktails and dinner, a good night of great dreams in the balmy, fresh night air, it is no surprise to find the sweet morning stillness at La Quinta Resort broken by the thuds of tennis balls and ‘grunts’.  The morning ‘jocks’ have been inspired by their heroes’ performances from the day [or their dreams of the night] before and seek to duplicate the same perfect strokes.  After a short bit, the gardeners take over with their equipment manicuring the grounds before the heat of the midday sun.  The sequential noise patterns combine to leave a ‘peace offering’ of grapefruit that have been ‘rattled’ from the trees for the guests to enjoy.

La Quinta Resort

As my friend from Washington, DC [VB] and I were quietly doing water aerobics in a small pool in Santa Rosa Cove at La Quinta we noticed Donald Rumsfeld [Gulf War I Secretary of Defense—among his many other accomplishments] ‘chilling’ on a poolside lounge chair.  Just another day at the beach—his war is over.

My concert pianist friend [DP] is also a superb tennis player.  The Tour Tennis Tournament was ‘on’ and all La Quinta televisions were turned to the tennis action 24/7 –especially in the pro shop where exquisite tennis gear can dress one for success on the court or in your dreams.

Fashion Week:   

Fashion Week is also big during this season in the desert.  That grand pageant was about to begin with exhibitions and special events scheduled back to back.  The night I was there, my architect friend [JJ] from LA was able to obtain much coveted tickets to The Fashions of Leonore Annenberg at the Visitor’s Center at Sunnylands.  [The Walter and Leonore Anneberg Estate Sunnylands is a must see recommendation for everyone.]

Fashions worn by Walter and Leonore Annenberg and modern interpretations of those outfits by designers were the focus of the Nightlife series at Sunnylands Center & Gardens

Fashions worn by Walter and Leonore Annenberg and modern interpretations of those outfits by designers were the focus of the Nightlife series at Sunnylands Center & Gardens

The Fashion Show on March 13th was abuzz with the beautiful women of the desert.  Each designer shown was interpreting (in their own contemporary perspective) the designs originally worn by Leonore Annenberg.  Mrs. Annenberg’s original gowns were on display and a runway presentation of the new designs was featured.  Among those guests present was iconic black fashion model Betsey Johnson.  A martini tasting of infused vodkas and hors d’oeuvres preceded the runway show.

[The Annenberg Estate ‘Sunnylands’ tour provides a marvelous view into American history, but must be deferred for another column. ‘Sunnylands’ (designed by US architect A. Quincy Jones) now offers tours to the public.  Tickets are hard to come by, but are worth the effort if you know you will be in the area.]

Leonore Annenberg:

Leonore Annenberg

Leonore Annenberg

Leonore Annenberg fits into the Celebration of Women for her accomplishments in the world of politics and diplomacy not only as the wife of an Ambassador, but because she held the rank of Ambassador herself when she served as Chief of Protocol for President Ronald Reagan.  More importantly, she worked quietly ‘behind-the-scenes’ facilitating the movers and shakers of American history, as well as, foreign leaders and royalty in historic preparations/negotiations in her homes.

Female Finnish Conductor Coming to LA Philharmonic at Disney Hall:

Finnish Conductor Susanna Mälkki

Susanna Mälkki, Finnish Conductor and Music Director of the Ensemble intercontemporain, will conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra on April 12, 13, and 14.  The Concerts will feature works by Poppe, Stravinsky, and Brahms.

Scandinavian Festival:

The Annual Scandinavian Festival in Thousand Oaks at the Cal Lutheran University Campus begins on April 20th.  This is always a fun event.  Come meet fellow Finns and other Scandinavians.  Shop, taste treats, see friends, and enjoy entertainment.  Stand with Finnish pride.  Come say hello!

New Los Angeles County Jail Chief Is A Woman:

The largest jail system in the country has a new manager, Terri McDonald

Sheriff of Los Angeles County is an elected position.  As we know, politicians are noted for telling constituents whatever they want to hear.  We have learned to ‘filter’ statements and responses to questions, withholding judgment of our ‘leaders’ until we see their actions.

Lee Baca has mentioned how much he admires the strength and leadership of Finnish women.  Words of a politician—words of a diplomat—words to please a constituent—words to assuage a volunteer?  Proof is in performance.

Sheriff LeRoy D. Baca has just appointed a woman to manage the nation’s largest jail system.  His appointee (Terri McDonald) has earned a reputation as a tough manager.  Previously Ms. McDonald was with the California State Prison System where she helped institute major prison reform.

Other Women Warriors:

As I close this column, the ‘wires’ are humming with the news that Julia Pierson has been named the first woman in charge of the US Secret Service.

President Barack Obama watches as Vice President Joe Biden administers the oath of office to incoming U.S. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson during a swearing-in ceremony in the Oval Office, March 27, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)



SUVI KOPONEN by Jonny Kahleyn Dieb - copyrighted 2011



Suvi Koponen’s modeling career got started at 16 when she won a Finnish modeling TV show. The top prize was a contract with modeling agency which led to quite a splash at a Prada show in Milan. She then moved to New York City where she fell in love with a tall and handsome model named Tyler Riggs. Last summer the couple moved to Los Angeles and purchased a house in the leafy Sherman Oaks area. Life is smiling at the young couple as they look forward to welcoming their first Christmas in their beautiful new home surrounded by lush green vegetation.

Tall, gorgeous Suvi Koponen, 23, was born in Helsinki and grew up in Vantaa. She is the oldest of three children. Her mother is a kindergarten teacher and her father is the manager of an assisted living facility.




Ville Virtanen, aka Darude, is best known for his 2000 hit single Sandstorm. He has sold over five million records. For the past decade, Ville has been touring the world, doing DJ sets in more than 40 countries. Ville has been ranked as one of the top 100 DJ’s in the world. He has moved to Georgia with his lovely wife Michelle. They have a 2 year-old child. The family lives in an Atlanta suburb, Georgia, where Ville works in his home studio and collaborates with artists around the world with modern techniques.




Pia Pakarinen by Jonny Kahleyn (copyrighted)

Pia Pakarinen by Jonny Kahleyn  ©

The Finnish beauty queen was crowned Miss Finland in March, 2011, and by September she had abdicated her crown amidst terrible press. “What happened?” we asked Pia as she arrived in America for the very first time.

A year ago nobody knew anything about Pia Pakarinen, a 21-year-old country girl from Juuka, Northern Karelia. Then, last spring, she won the Miss Finland beauty pageant and became an overnight sensation. The beautiful and well-spoken blond bombshell seemed to be everywhere. With great triumph, the Nordic maiden was sent to the Miss Universe contest in São Paulo, Brazil. That’s when things started to go haywire. Reports began appearing in the media that Pia insisted that her entourage be brought along and that she demanded money for interviews. She returned from Brazil empty-handed and was said to be canceling and/or missing gigs that she had previously agreed to do. She then dramatically gives up her Miss Finland title in a live TV-broadcast and denounces the organization behind it. Pia Pakarinen was a persona non grata in Finland. There was only one thing to do: Go Hollywood!

Enter Maria and Paul Kizirian, a couple who work at the Network modeling agency in Los Angeles. The Finnish-born Maria happened to know Wille Wilenius, a friend of Pia’s.

Pia Pakarinen by Jonny Kahleyn (copyrighted)

Pia Pakarinen by Jonny Kahleyn  ©


Lotta vei tarinat Amerikkaan – Elma Maisack December 6, 1918-April 16, 2019

Kaliforniassa syntynyt Elma Maisack (entinen Manninen) palveli lottana Suomessa talvi- ja jatkosodassa. Sodan jälkeen hän palasi Kaliforniaan. Hänen päiväkirjansa kertoo sota-ajasta yksityiskohtia, jotka tuppaavat muuten jo unohtumaan – kuten Hitlerin nimi. Tomi HinkkanEn teksti ja kuva.

by Tomi Hinkkanen

Elma maisack (os. Manninen) kotikadullaan Torrencessa.

Elma Maisack istuu kotonaan Kalifornian Torrancessa, ja hänen poikansa Gary tuo laatikollisen muistoja tutkittavaksi.

“Isänmaan nimessä ja puolustusvoimain ylipäällikkönä annan teille lotta Elma Viola Manninen sodan 1939–40 muistomitalin. Päämajassa 1940 Marsalkka Mannerheim”, lukee kellastuneessa kirjeessä.

Marski itse ei mitalia Elman rintaan ripustanut, mutta he kohtasivat kerran sattumalta.

Elma Maisack, omaa sukuaan Manninen, toimi lottana talvi- ja jatkosodassa. Hänen sotavieraskirjaansa tallentuivat tapahtumat kirjoituksina ja kuvina.

Elma manninEn lotan univor- mussaan sota-aikana.

Elma manninEn lotan univor- mussaan sota-aikana.

Maisack täyttää Suomen itsenäisyyspäivänä 97 vuotta. Elämän ehtoona nimet, paikat ja vuodet tuppaavat unohtumaan, mutta valoisa persoona on tallella.

Elma Manninen syntyi Fort Braggissa, Kaliforniassa. Isä oli maanviljelijä Savosta ja äiti Karjalan tyttöjä. Perhe palasi Suomeen Elman ollessa nelivuotias.

– Isä osti maapalstan erämaasta Mikkelin läheltä Läsäkoskelta. Siellä on saaria. Hän antoi niille nimet lastensa mukaan. Oli veljeni Väinön, siskoni Vienon ja minun, Elman, saari, nainen muistaa.

Talvisodan syttyessä Elma oli parikymppinen nuori nainen.

– Lähdin suojeluskuntaan lotaksi. Kukaan ei käskenyt, halusin mennä, Maisack painottaa.

sotavieraskirjassa on piirroskuva sotilaasta, joka yrittää soittaa sotilaskotiin, mutta numero on varattu.

Sairaanhoitoa opiskellut nainen määrättiin hoitamaan haavoittuneita sotilaita. Hän työskenteli Punaisen Ristin junissa. Lotat saivat valtiolta pientä korvausta, ruokaa ja asuinsijan.

Elma aloitti sotavieraskirjansa pidon noihin aikoihin. Hän on piirtänyt kirjaan kuvan sotilaasta puhelimessa. Kuvassa lukee: “Taaskin 64623 varattu.”

– Hän yrittää soittaa sotilaskotiin, mutta numero ei vastaa, Maisack selventää.

Välirauhan ajan Elma Manninen työskenteli Helsingissä konttorissa, asui oppilaskodissa ja suoritti Lotta Svärd -iltakurssit.

Jatkosodassa häntä tarvittiin taas junissa. Päiväkirjamerkintä tammikuulta 1942 kertoo:

“Hesasta se juna lähti, kaikkialla maassa nähtiin, Turkuun viimein saavutaan, laiva yhä viipyy vaan.”

Pitkä juna oli täynnä haavoittuneita sotilaita, jotka vietiin laivalla Tukholmaan sairaalaan.

1942 Elmalle myönnettiin lomatodistus Äänislinnassa (nykyinen Petroskoi) ukaasin kera:

Lotta Elma Maisack talking about her work in the Finnish Red Cross (rescuing and treating the wounded). During the Winter War some 100,000 men whose jobs were taken over by “Lottas” were freed for military service. The Lottas worked in hospitals, at air-raid warning posts and other auxiliary tasks in conjunction with the armed forces.

“Älä puhu rintamatiedoistasi junassa, äläkä kotona liioin. Vihollisen korva on kaikkialla. Sankaruutesi ei suurene leventelemällä. Näytä päättäväisyyttä ja lujuutta myös rintaman takana. Siis vaikene!”

Nainen palveli kotvan myös sotilassairaala Tilkassa.

– Siellä oli saksalainen vuodepotilas. Puhun vähän saksaa. Mies kutsui minua nimellä “meine kleine lotta”. Hän olisi halunnut minut mukaansa Saksaan.

Työ huomioitiin Saksan ylimmässä johdossa asti.

– Sain kunniakirjan siltä – mikä sen saksalaisen ukon nimi olikaan? Elma Maisack kysyy tarkoittaen Hitleriä.

Vuonna 1944 Neuvostoliitto pommitti Helsinkiä. Sota tuli lotan luo.

Kerran loppu oli lähellä.

Elma Maisack (center) working as a Lotta during WW2

– Erottajalle putosi pommi – hirmuinen täräys. Olin pommisuojassa antamassa ensiapua. Luulin, että se olisi viimeinen hetkeni, mutta siitäkin selvittiin.

Marsalkka Mannerheimin nuori lotta tapasi Helsingissä.

– Kävelimme lottaystäväni kanssa Kaivopuistossa. Mannerheim ja hänen adjutanttinsa tulivat vastaan ja tekivät meille kunniaa, Maisack myhäilee.

Sodan päätyttyä hän valmistui sairaanhoitajaksi.

– Suomessa oli köyhää ja kurjaa. Äiti itki hellan vieressä, kun sanoin lähteväni Amerikkaan.

Elma Manninen saapui New Yorkiin syyskuussa 1947 mukanaan matkalaukku ja lainarahaa. Suomalaistuttavat New Yorkissa auttoivat naisen Kalifornian-junaan.

Los Angelesissa hän sai töitä sairaalasta.

– Tapasin tulevan mieheni sängyssä, Maisack kujeilee.

Wallace Maisack oli tullut tyräleikkaukseen, ja Elma oli hänen hoitajansa.

Wallace korjasi sota-aikana Afrikassa venäläisiä lentokoneita.

– Nauroin, että hän korjasi venäläiskoneita ja me yritimme ampua niitä alas!

Pari meni naimisiin Las Vegasissa. Heille syntyi kaksi poikaa, Gary ja Greg. Wallace työskenteli kassakonefirmassa ja Elma sairaanhoitajana.

Pojat pysyivät poikamiehinä. Greg asuu nykyään äitinsä kanssa Torrancessa ja Gary Oregonissa. Elman rinnalla 60 vuotta ollut Wallace kuoli vuonna 2007.

Elma Maisack on käynyt usein Suomessa.

– Tapaan sukulaisia, hiihdän, kalastan ja uin. Suomessa on paljon mukavia asioita, mutta Amerikassa elämä on vähän helpompaa. Olen onnellinen täällä.

Happy Birthday Finland and Elma!

Elma and her son Gary