Have you ever heard of the Winter War? It was a short, brutal conflict initiated by the Soviet Union to extend its territory at the expense of Finland. On paper, the war looked like a walkover.
The mighty Soviet Union, with its millions of men under arms, its modern tanks, planes, and long range artillery versus the small, lightly armed Finland. Finland’s total population amounted to right around 4 million people; they had 30 tanks and only 130 modern aircraft.
When the Soviets attacked at the end of November, 1939, they met a rude surprise. The Red army was unprepared for the terrible cold, the extremely rugged terrain, and the Finnish skis. Their tactics were all wrong while the skill and resolve of the Finnish Army was exemplary.
However, the weight of numbers and war material eventually took its toll and the isolated Finland was forced to capitulate in March of 1940. The whole story is fascinating on a number of levels, but the Winter War tends to get lost in all the details of the World War Two.
Now, you are probably wondering what this has to do with Kent.
Kent had a Finnish population, starting in the early 1900s, in Suise Creek. So 1940, a series of events were held for the Finnish Relief Fund. The Relief Fund was initiated under the auspices of ex President Herbert Hoover and was a national effort to raise funds to help feed Finland. At the time that Finland surrendered, just over four months into the fight, the relief fund raised over 2.5 million dollars or about 42 million dollars in today’s currency.
Mayor R. E. Wooden was the chairman of the relief drive in Kent.
He appointed a committee to help, including J. F. Carlson and Jens K. B. Anderson (the founder of City Transfer) to assist in the work. A dance was been organized at the East Hill Community Hall, for February 24, 1940. Folk could find tickets at the Grangers Warehouse, the Red Rock Confectionery, or Kent Milling. The music would be provided by the Wilson’s Orchestra from Seattle, the Renton Eagles band, and there would be dancing in “colorful native Finnish costume.” In all, the people of Kent raised $250.51 and send to Herbert Hoover’s Finnish Relief Fund, or $4,250 today.
I first came across this story a couple of years ago while researching the town’s history during WWII, but it has stuck with me. Here is Kent, 4,777 miles away from Helsinki, and people are giving generously to provide aid through a national organization that is long forgotten.
The Finnish Relief Fund is a stand in for a myriad of Kent Stories. It was passing moment, documented over a month in the news paper, that you might pass over. These are the kinds of stories that the GKHS preserves and that we enjoy sharing with the Kent Community.