Touko’s letter to Hely, 26 July 1944

26 July ‘44

Dear Heikkä,

Thank you for your letter. It was so long and lovely. Nobody writes letters like you do. Kaiju sends me long ones, too, but hers are done in big hand-writing and have relatively little content. Letters from Mother and Father are excellent, of course, and Salmuski writes with great sense of humour and warmth, but you’re my favourite penpal. Yes, nothing wrong with the letters from our parents, they ooze with optimistic warmth and they give me hope and strength when I’m short of those. Not that it happens often but it’s incredibly nice to receive letters from home.

I just realised that I haven’t replied to your previous letter, the one you entitled “Do you remember”. I give my reply a name: a little rug or a rug cushion called “I remember”. That’s what we have on the sofa in that dear place, Kakskerta. I can clearly remember everything you mentioned. I remember how we threw balls over the garage roof, the garage that Uncle Otto said would fly away with the wind. (Or do I remember incorrectly?) I remember the time we visited Parola, and Mother and Father were looking for a summer cottage and said they’d finally found the right one, Kakskerta. You and I hiked over there one spring when our schoolmates went to the Åland Islands on a school trip; that would have been nine years ago. We arrived at the Varvi rock and realised, to our horror, that there was a barge on shore carrying sand. The flowers were blooming, the sun was shining, the birds were singing and it was such a wonderful spring, as it has been before and will be in the future. It’s wonderful to live in memories, and I am always grateful to Father and Mami for having given us such childhood memories. Now I understand the value and significance of such a childhood.

I sent a third package home: it’s my old boots, which are beyond repair. I used the heelpieces on another pair of boots. The uppers and legs are still in good condition so they can be used for a couple of pairs of shoes.

There’s no news here, really. We’ve been busy building dugouts, which is a nice job. Perhaps I’ve already told you about it. I started digging a dugout with three boys, two of whom are skilled carpenters. See, I wanted to get away from Brummer as I’m getting fed up with some of his outlandish characteristics. I’ve just been a labourer in this job, of course, but our dugout will be the tidiest and nicest in the whole community. So, like all the others, it’ll just have four bunks and there won’t be much space to move around. But we’ll almost be able to stand up straight, and there’s a nice corridor, and the walls are covered with white paper. It’s fun to watch how a handy carpenter can carefully make the corners of skirting boards and other small finishing jobs with such skill that there are no gaps anywhere. I haven’t moved there yet because it’s very peaceful and because there’s more light here in the house. The job has kept us busy all day long, so much so that we haven’t had time to sing for a long time. But as soon as we’re not busy, I’ll get the choir together again.

We were shown a new, powerful German anti-tank weapon, the “armoured fist”, today, which we will soon have, too. It’s so extremely simple, it seems almost primitive, but it’s so incredibly ingenious and powerful that combined with the other new equipment, German secret weapons and Finnish willpower I’m sure we’ll win in the end.

I’d love to have some freshly baked goodies, and it would be lovely if you could send me some. It doesn’t need to be cakes, just the ones that Mother makes. They should stay fresh till they get here. And something to eat with them, if could buy something somewhere. But please don’t send me rationed butter. We don’t have much variety here, we’re finishing the last bits of food from the winter, and it’s impossible to source food from anywhere yet. I’m not complaining but it would be nice to have something else for a change.

Bye for now, and give my love to everyone. Touko

On the margin of the first sheet: I’m not sure if I mentioned that the piano was taken away from the island, which is a great relief for me.