Category Archives: Finland

Old Photos – Revisited

Well, my scanning is now complete of the old photos, and I have turned to editing them.  The original is fading, but the edited photo of my great grandmother Alma and her kids (Linda, Matt), was restored to how it looked in circa 1910 when it was taken.


Look at those details that I was able to bring out.  you can see the strands of hair and the detail on the dress.  I also did an edit of the marriage photo that was previously posted.










To do this sort of work, I recommend scanning in the photos in RAW mode at very high resolution (4800 dpi).  I did detail enhancement with some HDR tools, but the majority of the retouching was done in Photoshop.

Old Photographs

The past few weeks were great weeks.  As a result of research done by the Karstula parish in Finland, I knew that my great great grandmother Mathilda had come to America in 1901.  Her husband had died, and she remarried and had another girl Ottilia at the age of 43.  Her new husband had already come to Ohio, and she was now following with her infant daughter and 19 year old teenager (my great grandmother).  Sadly, Mathilda died about six months after arriving, but my great grandmother found a husband, and here is their photograph circa 1902.

The only reason that I have this photograph is because I had been doing genealogy research before I came to Finland.  And so I researched the descendants of baby Ottilia and discovered that her descendants were living in Ohio.  That was great, and so I called some of them up just hoping for a return call.

They did call back and are very nice people.  And, in fact, they knew my great grandmother and some of her offspring.  When the eldest daughter of the people in the photo died, these descendants of Ottilia had the task of cleaning out her home, and they found the four photo albums and kept them safe.  FOR 50 YEARS!  Some photographs probably have no remaining duplicate.   REMARKABLE.  I have much to thank for my cousins’ careful attention to the matter.

This cautionary tale is reason alone to make this post.  Before you toss old photographs, consider whether there may be someone else for whom the photos may be invaluable.  That alone is enough.   But there is more.

As I flipped through the photos, I saw a photo of my son looking from the pages.  It wasn’t, but it was.

If you know my son George Hokkanen, then you will immediately recognize how remarkable the resemblance is between my cousin Tom and George of the same age.  ASTOUNDING.

My mother had opined (in that funny way that Finns may share their opinion) that George did not look like any of the Hokkanens.  There were multiple interpretations of that remark, some better than others if you know what I mean, and it was very much like her to make ambiguous remarks like this.  But she was certainly correct in the most literal sense–at least with respect to the family photos that we had, George made no appearance.  But we didn’t have the photos of Ottilia and her descendants!

Gene expression is a funny thing.  You get two copies of every gene, one of which may be domant until it isn’t, and gene sequences can pass for many generations unimpacted. And so your doppelganger may just be 2nd or 3rd cousin.

Coffee Time in Helsinki

In deference to the culture which I am now in, I went out for afternoon coffee at the neighborhood coffee shop.  (Usually I only have coffee in the morning.)  In further deference, I selected a piece of pulla to have with my coffee.

The taste of the finely-textured, semi-sweet dessert bread with the distinct taste of cardamom brought back memories of mummo Anna (i.e., Grandmother Anna)  that would make it at my house several times a week when I was growing up.  This was some sort of specialty pulla given related to the upcoming Easter season, and this had both berries and a glaze and a splash of powdered sugar.  I had never eaten a pulla like this, but it was quite a treat with the coffee–which, in deference to my origin, was an Americano!  Note to dad: I did not, however, dunk the pulla in the coffee.