Spencer-farmarien osuusliike

Link to the short film "A Co-operative operation by Finnish-American farmers in New York State" https://areena.yle.fi/1-50162953

This translation from Finland’s state TV website is followed by the translator's comments.

"Day-to-Day life of Finnish-Americans was preserved on Film

Arvo Tamminen made an extensive trip to the United States in 1947. He filmed for his Filmiseppo movie company Finnish-American’s lives in different parts of the continent. The material was assembled for a full-length film Sydämeni laulu (1948). In addition, 24 of 10 minute long “tax cut films” were produced from the filming.

A group of farmers founded in 1928 the Spencer Co-operative with a capital of 800 dollars. Twenty years later the Co-op’s gross receipts were almost 3,000,000 dollars. The number of Finnish-American farmers was 800.

Land became available at favorable terms for immigrants. The American economy grew robustly in the beginning of the 20th century. Finnish immigrants moved to the area around Spencer in New York State from amongst other places, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The program followed day to day life of the farmers. It also makes a visit to the Cultural House in Van Etten and an outdoor meeting of the Finnish-Americans in the summer of 1949. Present were The President of the Spencer Co-operative as well as the board members and the store manager. The elders of the community included John Heino from Kortesjärvi, William Parkkila from Vaasa, Richard Koski from Evijärvi, Esa Saikkonen from Mikkeli, Edward Klippi from Kotka, Matti Pulkkinen from Kuhmo, Emil Kallio from Härmä, and from Mikkeli Santeri Forss, Eino Miettinen and Kustaa Pölhö."

Translator’s comments:

The original Finnish text says that the outdoor event took place in1949 in Van Etten. The year was according to Richard Koski, who was there, actually1947 and the grandstand looks like the one in Nichols Park in Spencer.

The mention of “tax cut films” needs clarification. The Finnish state taxed foreign made movies very high. The movie theater had to sell tickets that were marked with a tax rate. The tax rate for Finnish-made films was very low, could have been even 0. So before every foreign film the movie theater showed a short Finnish film, which supported film production in Finland and lowered the total ticket tax that the government charged the owner of the movie theatre. These “pre-films” were shown before the main feature. The film about the Spencer Co-op was one of them.

So how did a film about Spencer farmers wind up on a website for Finnish TV?

There were a few small companies that made short films and shorts of sport events etc. Television came to Finland in late 1950s and the downhill slide for Finland’s film production began. The small film companies went out of business one after the other. The state TV monopoly bought their material and a lot of it, such as the film on the Spencer farmers, is now available at the Finnish TV’s “elävä arkisto” site.