Sulo Lahti really isn't my friends name, but it is a good Finnish name, and my friend is a good Fin. I have known the man for a number of years. I remember the first time that I met him. I was visiting a Clatskanie dairy and the dairyman introduced me. Sulo was working as an artificial inseminator, and was busy with a cow that had come into heat.
I got the impression that he really enjoyed what he was doing. He put on an arm length plastic glove and it looked to me as if he was sticking his entire arm up the animal's backside.
"Sorry Bossy" said Sulo. "I hate to cheat you out of your quality bull time, but I can pretty much guarantee you a first rate calf."
People all said that Sulo was good man who did good work
Sulo lived on a farm about three and a half miles from Clatskanie Oregon in a locality called Quincy. Some years back, he left the breeding business and decided to go into dairying. He took over his dads farm and small herd. He milked something in the neighborhood of 70 cows. It was not exactly what would be considered a big time dairy, but it was large enough to meet Sulo's needs. Being a dairy man is not an easy job; staying in business, can be a real challenge. Low milk prices, high overhead, new environmental rules, all made it more difficult; still Sulo survived. He worked hard, took care of his animals, and did what he had to do to keep the milk inspector happy and maintain his Grade "A" status.
Sometimes doing everything right is still not good enough, and the corporation that owned the dairy that Sulo shipped to finally concluded that he was not worth bothering with.
He was disgusted. " They say that I am too small, and that Quincy is too far for them to run a milk truck."
I mentioned that no one was dairying anymore.
His comment was: "I know, and it sucks."
Sulo sold his dairy animals, his milk machines and some miscellaneous other dairy equipment. He decided to go into the hay and replacement heifer business, and best of all, decided to get on with his life.
Sulo had other interests besides farming. He liked to tinker around the farm and invent things. He invented an articulated weed cutting machine, an improved tractor hitch, an automatic fence post driver, and wondrous alcoholic beverages that he would brew in his barn.
Sulo was a bachelor, but he did have a lady friend of sorts. He had a thing with the girl next door, Little Annie. Little Annie's full name was Anna Marie Seppala, and Sulo would cut her hay. She stood close to six foot high in her stocking feet, and was a stunning Nordic blonde. She used to teach at the Quincy school, until it was shut down. She then moved on to Clatskanie, where she would enthrall fifth graders with her personal magnetism and over all beauty. Annie was a divorcee. She had been married before, and was determined not to make the same mistake twice.
A fine line existed between the two of them, a line that neither Sulo nor Little Annie would cross. They would date, and enjoy each other's company, they would share good times, but neither one would ever broach the subject of marriage.
Clatskanie is a small community with a year 2000 census count of around 1800. The name is of Native American origin and was derived from the word "Tlatskanai," The Tlatskanai were a particularly aggressive and obnoxious tribe that established dominion over the area. They would demand tribute from all who passed through their territory, and records show that they more than once picked fights with unprepared settlers. Remnants of this tribe would probably still be around, were it not for our peace loving settlers presenting them with gifts of smallpox and syphilis. The smart natives moved away to other tribes, the remaining ones died.
The people that settled into Clatskanie were a diverse group. The Conyers, Bars, Tichenors, Colvins, and Salders. These were pioneering people who worked at farming and logging. Workers were needed to help harvest the vast timber resources in the area, and large numbers of Fins and Norwegians also came to work and stay.
My friend Sulo (who is sort of an amateur historian) once commented that the English and other ethnic groups didn't like the Scandinavians, and conversely, the Scandinavians didn't really care for these other ethnic groups either. The Scandinavians thought that these "outsiders" were dirty and lazy, and the people in these other groups considered the Scandinavians drunken heathens. According to Sulo both groups were correct in their mutual assessments.
There was a certain dynamic that has always existed among the people of this area.