Have you ever wondered about how some of the first lure companies came to be?
I read about Lauri Rapala many years ago and was fascinated with the story of his life and how he came to start one of the largest and most iconic lure companies.
As I read his life story, I pictured in my mind the lakes and the beauty of the scenery and what it must have been like back in that era.
Lauri Rapala was born in central Finland, a flat land of evergreen forests littered with hundreds of lakes. Not too much further north, along the Arctic Circle in the area called Lapland, reindeer roam in large herds.
The lakes here are very cold, like the aquavit that the Finns drink year-round and the gamefish — pike, perch, trout and whitefish — grow very slowly.
At the age of seven, Lauri and his mother, Mari, settled in the parish of Asikkala, which is located about 60 miles from Helsinki. In writing the extract for the Sysma Parish register, the clergyman forgot Mari’s surname, Saarinen, and instead wrote the name of the village from which Mari and Lauri had moved — Rapala. In Finnish, the word “Rapala” means “mud.”
Mari took a job as a maid and netminder in the household of Santeri Tommola in the Asikkala village of Sarkijarvi. As for Lauri, as soon as he was able, he was put to work like most Finnish children of that time. There were no schools in Sarkijarvi and no other means of financial support. There was only long, hard, back-breaking manual labor.
In his early twenties, Lauri met Elma Leppanen, who also served as a maid in the Tommola household. In 1928, the couple married and moved to the nearby village of Riihilahti to live in her parents’ house, where they lived until 1933.