Monkeys, doves, goats – stories from the old days

Viktor Jansson’s (1886-1958) family lived at Lallukka for decades. Viktor was a significant sculptor and his wife, Signe Hammarsten-Jansson (1882-1970) was a graphic designer and illustrator who designed stamps published in Finland for thirty years. Their daughter Tove Jansson (1914-2001) became an artist and writer loved by Finns.

The family had a guenon called Poppolino as a pet. It was allowed to move around freely at their home. Viktor Jansson took Poppolino with him to his trips. Sometimes the pet monkey run away and climbed on the roof of Lallukka. However, Viktor had his ways to bring the monkey. Viktor sat down on the street and started crying and Poppolino came back to console its owner.

Sculptor Aarre Aaltonen (1889-1980) found a dove from the attic. The bird was in terrible shape. It had no feathers and it was hungry. Aaltonen nourished the bird and it became tame and stayed with the sculptor watching him working on his shoulder. The dove slept its nights on a sheepskin next to Aarre. If Aarre’s wife tried to come sleeping next to him, bird made her go away by pecking her.

Painter, professor Elias Muukka (1870-1958) lived at the Artists’ Home since the completion of the building until his death. He was a son of a peasant from Lemi and moved to Helsinki in 1870s to study art. When he left home he was given a goat that provided him milk.

Composer Aarre Merikanto (1893-1958) was one of the first residents at Lallukka Artists’ Home. For the composer quietness was important because it ensured him tranquility and ability to concentrate. When the building was ready Merikanto tested the quietness by shouting at the empty house. Nothing was heard.

When artists moved to Lallukka, the reality was quite different. Merikanto wrote to his diary (loosely translated): “This is all hell, when prima donnas of all the world shout out their voices and tremolo like they have a theatre’s wind machine in their throats. “

Actress Eine Laine (1892-1970) moved around like she was on a stage with make up on, fully perfumed and dressed up. It was said about her that only one colleague and fellow Lallukka resident, Ossi Korhonen (1898-1976), used as much make up, perfume and powder as her. It was because Korhonen taught make-up at Theatre Academy Helsinki.

Elite, a restaurant situated close-by, has been an important place for many residents of Lallukka. Painter Helge Dahlman (1924-1979) had been wounded at the war and his hand had been amputated. One time there were three men walking Dahlman back from Elite to Lallukka. When the group was finally standing at the front door, one of the escorts had Dahlman’s hand prosthesis under his arm.

When Actor Tauno Palo (1908-1982) came back home from Elite at summer and he changed to his swim shorts and walked to the strand for a swim.

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