Valikko Sulje

Karhusaari

A drawn picture of a dancing girl.

It was at Karhusaari Pavilion that I first met Reino. I think it was the second or third summer after the war. I went with the girls, dressed in our best frocks, a little lipstick on. Marke had found a guy somewhere who promised to row her to the island. We left our bikes at the side of the Maalaistenlaituri quay and got into the boat with the others. When the engine started, we could see Marke’s boat already gliding on the small waves towards Karhusaari.

It was a glorious summer night! The warm wind played in my hair and gently brushed by bare arms. People were chatting together. The cheerful chatter, excited about the coming night, accompanied us to the dance venue rocking on the horizon. A flag was flying above the high Pavilion tower. I had made this journey many a time before, but somehow I had a feeling that this trip would be rather different.

The familiar melody of ’Anna-Liisa’ carried from the Pavilion, as the men meeting the boat on the quay helped us ashore. Skipping across the shoreline bedrock, we hurried inside and found a table right by the dance floor. Our legs didn’t get much of a rest; we were soon whisked away to dance. The orchestra played something rhythmic and loud. The other girls were whizzing around the parquet with their partners. I took a sip of my lemon soda through the straw and adjusted my dress. Through the window, I saw Marke talking to some young man outside.

Then a slim figure appeared in front of me. That young boy’s laughing eyes may have been the first thing I fell in love with.

The music carried me and I wanted to fall asleep in Reino’s arms. The other dancing pairs seemed to vanish from view. The world rushed by in my ears, the thin scent of after-shave was like a wonderful drug which I relished with all my senses. I closed my eyes and immersed myself in the feeling.

We danced all that night, and after it nothing was the same again. Later, just before leaving for the return trip to Lappeenranta, the two of us sat shyly on the bedrock and watched a small boat at a distance making its way towards the town, oars slowly rising and falling. The sun dived down to sleep and I thought that all this is forever.

In a strange way I now realise that young slip of a lass was right. Although the Karhusaari Pavilion is no more, no friends sharing memories of summer nights, no life partner kissed by the summer wind, no bold Marke, everything is still in its place and present in this moment. Nothing disappears or is lost forever.

Text: Pekka Vartiainen
Pictures: Anni Jokitalo
Translation: Annira Silver
Location on map

The story and the pictures are a part of Tarinajoki book (River of Stories), made in Rural Explorer project. As part of a culture tourism project, stories arising from the body of folk narratives and history also have a function in relation to the productisation of tourism. The stories are linked to real locations.