Teresia, Rauma’s first business lady

He was smart and she was pretty. Rafael Lönnström was asked to move his ammunition factory further away from Helsinki in 1930ies. He chose Rauma. Far enough (from Russia), but not too far from civilization. His wife Teresia could take shopping trips from Turku to Stockholm.

After the war, the main focus of operations shifted to water fixtures, and the Lönnström companies developed into a major player in metal industry in Rauma. Their factories used half of the electricity produced in Rauma! Remember, electricity came in 1900 and there wasn’t enough of it.

Rafael Lönnström died from illness in 1943 and Teresia managed the business another 30 years. She sold her share to the huge Huhtamaki Group business, which ten years later sold it further on.  The current successful water fittings factory Oras and BHW waste management companies in Rauma had a boost from this business deal.

As the business flourished, the company built housing for its workers around the factory (incl. 5 two-storey houses on Syväraumankatu Street and 7 white wooden houses known today as Weekday Houses).

Teresia and Rafael Lönnström Home Museum on Syväraumankatu 41 in Rauma. Website

More about the business history: 1930ies ->; 1950ies->

The way they met was romantic, but it’s another story. Go see their home and you still feel their presence.

She adopted her sister’s daughter, who worked as an accountant for the company. She died only a few years after Teresia. They traveled abroad, loved photography and collecting arts. She left huge funds to the Finnish Cultural Foundation and the Foundation for Economic Education.

Old Rauma open yard

Tapio Niemi and his wife have a private museum in Old Rauma. They open it for the public to see for free. Often do I get a request from visitors to see a yard in the old town. So when you come for a tour, I try to get you to see the pearls of Eteläpitkäkatu 30.

The homes those days weren’t so overloaded with things, I guess. But it is wonderful to see all that. Feels like a home, not a museum.

The storage rooms had a toilet on second floor, with dirt falling on first floor. The excrement of domestic animals were collected there as well. Remember, the sewage system came in 1935. Imagine sitting there next to your neighbor and discussing daily politics. Or why else would it be 4 seats next to each other?

It is called a WÄLMLÄ HOME MUSEUM, but they have no website.

Democratic leadership

The city government of Rauma is represented by such professions as a chef, a nurse, a police constable, a pharmacist, a school lecturer, a curator, a product engineer, a stevedore and a number of salesmen and entrepreneurs. As a rule, the city government meets every Monday.

chairman of the Rauma city government Kalle Leppikorpi

The chairman of the city government is a social democrat Kalle Leppikorpi. We see him in the newspapers commenting on city decisions and we see him at the store working as a security guard the other half time! So I caught him with a camera to ask a few questions.
Rauma city government members (see here)

He said he liked working that way, partly as a spokesman and partly doing something else. He has small kids at home, whom he can take care of from now and then when mother is busy.

Finland is a country of gender and profession equality. All of the professions are respected and paid accordingly. If it were only politicians at the city government, their decisions could be far from realistic.

Rauma city council has 43 councilors and they get together on the last Monday of each month. 18 members of the city council are members of the currently Finnish leading Social Democratic party (that is led by Antti Rinne).

Rauma city council members (see here)

The Prime Minister of Finland, Antti Rinne, is actually planning to visit Rauma quite soon, on August 9th. He has a speech at the Rauma Marketplace (in front of the town hall) from 6 pm to 7 pm. People sing and coffee is served.

Meet Kerttu Horila herself!

You have seen the human like sculptures in Rauma .. woman with a handbag sitting in front of the Art Museum, three women swimming in the channel, the lady reading a bible at the church .. and so many more places. One is hidden behind a fence. I show this at my tour.

But now during this lace week you can see so much more as she opens her yard and studio to the public! Definitely go visit her place at Länsikatu 7 in old Rauma . She might even be sitting on her terrace.

It’s not just figures. They have fantastic expressions! Modern and surprising. A little bit theatrical.

I only saw one price tag, so I guess she does not sell any of her work these days and hence her studio is usually closed.

Kerttu Horila’s CV

Sailors’ lonely wives

The wife of a seamen, depicted on the paintings of the 19th century, is standing on the sea side sad and distressed. Next time she sees the husband in a year or two. Maybe never. She is responsible for taking care of the house and the kids alone. I wrote this story to the newspaper Raumalainen, published on 17.07.2019.

Every third man in Rauma was a sailor around the middle of the 19th century. In 1830 Rauma seamen got the right to sail further away from the shores of Finland, on open seas all around the world.  Sailors received new duties at faraway ports and their ships did not return home for years.

The sailor’s wife received a third or half of the man’s wage through the seamen’s house. Not bad! But that was not enough to feed the family. Women had to rent out rooms in order to make extra money. They would take care of the sick, the orphans and the old people and be paid by the seamen’s house (just as if the men on sea would pay their wives, but the money goes to a caretaker). If women had no house of their own, they would have to work as maids and live in the employer’s house (under constant supervision, losing their independence). Most of the women from 1750s to 1840s were engaged in bobbin lace making for extra revenue.

The other men in the family, the grandfathers and the brothers, helped them. Sometimes a grandma would live in the next room, as you can see in Kirsti’s house museum.

One fifth of the seamen earned so well that they could buy the real estate from that income. Only house owners were allowed to practice farming and rent fields from the city. It was a good side income. The owners of the Kirsti’s house kept cattle from 1755 until 1947.

The salary and working conditions of Finnish sailors were not good. No wonder they escaped the ship for a better life in America or for a better paid job on American or English ships. Some got sick on faraway journeys and had to be left at the hospital in South Africa or other remote countries, with no opportunity to return.

According to Jari Lybeck’s dissertation, 270 seamen from Rauma escaped from the ship in 1840-1870 (that is 30 years). The same happened on the other Finnish ships and every third seamen from Turku would desert the ship! The masters would then have to find new personnel in order to continue sailing.

Picture by Juha Sinisalo , Raumalainen. I am looking out of the window at Kirsti’s house to see if my seaman is coming home.

What did the seamen eat on long journeys during the times they had no refrigerators? Pea soup and porridge. Porridge and pea soup. Stomach pains, yes. Weak health from the lack of vitamin C as well. When they reached the land, they would buy meat, fruit, alcohol, tobacco and coffee. It was only after the 1850s that they had any money. And the young boys, of course, went for an “adventure”. Married men wanted the same, but they were afraid the rumors would reach their families at home. They were all from the same town.

Have you seen the porcelain dogs on the windows in the old Rauma? The dogs look in the house if the man is home. According to a rumor these were given to the seamen as gifts by the most expensive prostitutes at English ports.

Later, when china dogs were not available, housewives placed the OMO washing powder box on a window (OMO- like the Old Man Out, you know).

But only a third of the divorces were a result of a woman’s misbehavior. Only? Or too many? I wonder where these extra men arrived to the small town to comfort lonely women, if at some point Rauma had 1000 seamen (sounds like all boys aged 10+ and men were on the sea).

A woman filed for a divorce if a man had deserted the ship for a better life and there was no sign of him for a year. Usually she waited longer, even 10-20 years. A single woman with kids was not a nice status those days. Some did a crime to feed the family. A seamen’s house supported those deserted wives to some extent, but not forever. If she got pregnant, she filed for a divorce. She could keep his belongings, as he was the initial cause of their divorce (not her extramarital relationship). She had to be quick, as he could still decide to return and she would be the only sinful.

It was not only the status of a married woman, the independence from a master and the financial security that lead women to such a lonely marriage. It might as well been love. Why else would anyone walk all the way from Rauma to Turku harbor (100 kilometers!) to meet a husband. It took them days to get there. They helped carry the things home. Gifts? Stockings? Perfumes? No.  All she got from a well-travelled man was a self-made ship in a bottle. Most important was that he came back alive. The captain’s wife might have got a scarf.

Nowadays not only the seamen leave homes and families. Several positions require a trip from time to time. But our spouses come home more often. We have the electricity, washing machines, television, hot water. Food is available at the store; there is no need to grow the potatoes and keep cattle. Children’s diapers go into garbage, not the laundry. Rauma is no longer a city of single mothers.

Enjoy your family summer holiday and why not visit the Rauma museums together. The sailor’s house museum Kirsti is open on summer time only (Tue-Sun 10-17). Rauma Maritime Museum is open every day in summer (from 11-17). On other times it is only on Saturdays. The wealthy shipowner’s Gabriel Granlund house museum Marela is open every day except Mondays.

Article by Kairi Rintanen (just like all the others in this blog)

Art house in Kodisjoki

Why not drive out of the Rauma town and visit an art house in a village? Väinö Ylen (1908 – 2000) was a mason and a part time farmer. He became interested in arts after participating at the art courses in Rauma. His barn has about 200 works.

In his art he depicts the old ways of working and the life of the village community.

His wife was a house wife and died 10 years before him. They had no children and they inherited their house and arts to Kodisjoki religious community. The house museum is currently under renovation.

Google-maps sends you to a wrong location (house number 900 something). Drive further, through Kodisjoki village, until you reach a yellow barn  and a white house number 1535 on your right hand side.

Before going, check on its website Taidekoti Ylen if it is open.
Address: Kodisjoentie 1535, 27310 KODISJOKI

Read the history of Rauma or ask me for a tour