|Helia Reini c.1917, Seattle, WA|
Courtesy Viola Petersen
My grandmother used to tell a story of how one day Helia took it upon herself to get dressed up, carefully curling her hair, and went down to the local photographer to get her picture taken. I wonder if this is that day. They were a very poor immigrant Finnish family, so I wonder how she got the money together for the photo. (She probably even made this dress for herself since she was a talented seamstress from a young age.)
[Update - Aiko Studios operated in Seattle at 613 1/2 Jackson from 1911-1925. Helia and her family were living at 108 Broadway in January 1918 according to her father's naturalization application. This is less than 1/2 mile away! Judging from this new information, it very well may be the photo taken the day of the story above. The family had moved away by September 1918.]Helia was said to have possessed psychic ability. From what I am told (surprisingly, by family members who don't believe in such things), before she could read, Helia would pretend to read the newspaper to her parents, making up news stories about neighbors and local events. Strangely, on several occasions the events she described were reported to occur AFTER she "read" them. I have no way of knowing if this is true, but she does look like an "old soul" in this photo.
She did extremely well in school, making straight A's, sewed beautiful clothes for her family and played a large part in raising her four younger siblings. From all accounts, she was a very talented, kind and well loved girl.
Tragically, Helia passed away at the age of 18 on Oct 10, 1925. Her death certificate lists the cause of death as "diabetic coma". At this time she was the wife of George G Hawke. Her family was understandably brokenhearted to lose this very special girl. Aune thought so highly of her sister Helia that she spoke of her with deep love and in the most glowing of terms, almost on a daily basis, for the rest of her long life (96 years). Because of this, I grew up feeling like I knew her, so I am pleased to be able to share this memory of her with you.