Long time ago, somewhere in the mountains lived King Beskid with his wife – Borana. They had two daughters -White and Black (Białka and Czarnucha).

They all lived happily, until the King died. Then, the Queen asked her two daughters to take care of water in the country, instead of their father. They decided to take risk and see the world.

Białka was playful and cheerful. She ran down the hill so carelessly. Her sister had an opposite character. She was calm, careful and mature. She walked down the hill slowly, watching every step. They met at the bottom of the mountain and decided to go further together. Suddenly, a rock showed up on their way, from which a knight came out. He warned girls about possible danger and and advised them not to go further. So they did. The land blossomed with flowers. Someday, they couldn’t stay there anymore, because they would flood the whole area.

They sent out a wave called Wyszła (that’s where the name of the river comes – The Vistula River – Wisła in Polish). The wave was getting bigger and bigger, because local streams and rivers joined it. It travelled through Poland, passing its greatest cities (Oświęcim, Kraków, Tarnobrzeg, Sandomierz, Puławy, Warszawa, Włocławek, Płock, Toruń, Bydgoszcz, Grudziądz, Malbork, Tczew, Gdańsk until it reached the Baltic sea. Where the water meets the sky, all weaves sent by the sisters, disappeared and never came back.


Where’s my leg? (Ghost story from Raahe)

The houses in Raahe’s old town are strictly organized on the city planning architecture. Sheltered yards remain covered between the city blocks. Most of the houses were built after the Raahe’s Great Fire 1810.

One of the deserted houses got the townspeople terrified to walk the certain areas on the town of Raahe. It was told that there was a moaning asker whose voice could be heard weaker at first and then it got louder when approaching the abandoned house.

– “Where’s my leg?” Was whispered from the darkness to people walking alone in the streets.

Many did not believe it, but sometimes during the daylight the bravest ones went to explore the courtyard and the base of the house. Below the layers of girder, an old and decayed wooden leg was found at the corner of the house. It was believed to have belonged to an old sailor who once lost his leg or a Soldier who was wounded during the Finnish war.

The questions fell silent for good when the wooden leg was placed inside the stone fences of the Haarala cemetery.

From the book: Gunilla ja kummat kertomukset,  Edited by Aki Pulkkanen. Translation Teemu Halmetoja


Fallen from the mast

When the moon hangs heavily in the sky, it bodes bad weather. When there’s a halo around the moon, then there’s a snowstorm coming the next day.

-Captain Himanka

“It’s said that the full moon has a certain power; That its gravity pulls your face into a horrible grimace”

– Sailor Gustav Burman from Raahe in 1923.

“Boys, do not lie down in a way that lets the moon’s light shine straight onto your face. Its gravity crooks your face”

– Chief Officer Pelkoliini from Oulu

When the wind was fair during the night, we occasionally were able to sail in the moonlight. During the so-called “Dog’s watch” we had to stay awake. It was the watch’s responsibility to keep the ship going while the others slept.

  Antti Pyy, a sailor, recalls that you could hear a wailing, horrible noise from the mast if you listened closely.

  “I’m falling, I’m falling!”, someone moaned.
In his old days, Antti was responsible of delivering the sailors’ wedding and funeral invitations in Raahe.

And the sailors had to have proper funerals as well. An old sailor Matti Orasmaa tells in 1920’s about his trip on a cargo ship to New Zealand. A wave was able to smash through the ship’s rear during a storm so hard that the room filled with water and smacked the life out of one unfortunate sailor. It was a custom to wrap the dead in their own blankets. Orasmaa had sewn the bodies inside the blankets and added iron weights to their feet. In the evening a blessing was said in the dead’s memory. The ship’s flag was put over the body. A pair of men raise the planks underneath the body from one end, so that the body slided feet first to the sea.

  The old sailors tell, that in the Atlantic a body doesn’t sink to the bottom of the ocean. It remains in a certain depth, where the ocean’s current takes the body along. The soul o a dead sailor is believed to soar as a free and white albatross.

  “There are not so many men lying in their graves here. Many of Raahe’s men have found their graves from the ocean waves, even the captains” sais 81-year-old Lovisa Jokelin in 1924.

When a restless soul was once again wailing from the mast, the chief officer Heikki Forsman yelled behind the sails: Then fall, fall, in God’s name!”

  A huge crash was heard. A humane ghost fell from the mast to the deck. It had black eye sockets, a body swollen from the seawater and a mark from a boot’s sole in its forehead. When this incident was discussed in the morning with the rest of the crew, it turned out that in the past someone had fallen from the mast and drowned.

  When the incident was still the topic of discussion in the night, a frightened cabin boy came forth and confessed. At one time in the past he had kicked a bad-tempered man in the forehead and he had drowned.

  Bad deeds reveal themselves one way or another, even from behind the grave. Unresolved matter will trouble us.

  “I’m falling, I’m falling”, was heard from the ship’s mast for many years to come across the vast seas.

From the book: Gunilla ja kummat kertomukset,  Edited by Aki Pulkkanen. Translation Teemu Halmetoja