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Estonian Hall


THE ESTONIANS OF MIDDLE ISLAND
by
Julie Koello
September, 2000


Devastated by the effects of war and Russians taking over their homeland. Many Estonians were forced to leave Estonia and escape to many different countries during World War II.

Many of our families and relatives were killed but thankfully many Estonians Escaped to freedom and headed towards the United States. Many settled here on Long Island in the 1940s and 1950s...

Taking a long trip by boat, most had come to Ellis Island. Many Estonians settled in the Brooklyn and New York City Area. An Estonian House was established in NYC for the Estonian families who came to this country.

After this time a few Estonians had bought summer bungalows out on Long Island. One area in particular was "Middle Island" Many Estonians from the City would come and visit their friends out on the Island. Noticing how spacious, beautiful and unpopulated Long Island was at that time. They realized how much property they could own and how they would have much more privacy out here then in the city. They decided they liked the area and many more made their summer homes here. Later claiming these houses all year long.

One thing in particular (which is a very important way of Estonian life) was taking a "Sauna." A Sauna is a steam bath in which the steam is produced by pouring water over heated rocks in a enclosed room. After sitting in the Sauna for awhile you would eventually take a swim to cool off your body. In the city they did not have the room to build Saunas, but given the space on Long Island they would be able to build there own, in their own homes.

During the 50's Another Estonian House was built in Middle Island. Which provided "Children's Summer Camp" and daily swimming at "Pine Lake." (Which is no longer swimmable) People frequented " The Lake Store" (Now The Pine Lake Deli) which at that time served food, drinks & candy through an outside window, ready to bring to the beach!

Held at the Estonian camp were Events like "Sporti Paev" (Sports Day) And "Janni Paev" (A Bon Fire to celebrate St. Johns day) Not to mention different kinds of traditional foods & dancing. It was a place for Estonian Families to get together and celebrate their culture. And these events still continue today in Middle Island as a part of our Estonian heritage...

 

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