Article by William A. Eliason from the Cokato Historical Society's newsletter In the Midst Of, December, 1985, Vol. 3 No. 4.
1910 Temerance Corner Youth League Gymnastics Club. William Eliason is front row far right
Having been invited to contribute something on the above subject I am glad to offer some reminiscences from my early teens (on the 23rd of November  I was 89).
Our rather sudden interest in athletics may have been a result of the success of Finland's entrants in the 1912 Olympic Games, in several gold medals won by them in the long distance races. Be that as it may, about that time an athletic club was organized, which held its meetings at the Temperance Hall—a center of the Finnish community. The leader of the group was my neighbor Peter Thompson, who was a respected farmer and well qualified to be an athletic director, since he possessed an admirable physique.
A photo [above] taken of the group shows that it consisted of a fairly large number of adults of both sixes and two teen-age boys—a neighbor lad named Otto Mattila and myself (the youngest of the group.) The physical (and social) benefits from the club proved it to be worth while. An interesting photo [below] shows a "human pyramid"—the result of considerable practice. Eventually, due to circumstances, the club disbanded, and at this time only a few of the old members survive.
Temperance Corner Gynastics club
As to the other part of my subject, I recall that in 1913 the club had a visit from two Finnish professional wrestlers, who did not get into action here. The names of the two were Kaarlo Lehto and Gunnar Gronlund. Picture postcards show the fine muscular development of
Gronlund; while the one of Lehto shows a handsome man as well as a well-built athlete. I would have loved to see these able wrestlers in action but did not have the chance. As I remember, Lehto's main achievement was his one hour draw with the great Polish wrestler Stanislaus Zbyscko. Kaarlo competed against men of the heavy-weight class, but he was only a light-heavy weight and at a disadvantage in taking on the heavier men. Having the friendship of these two prominent wrestlers and receiving mail from them is to me a bright memory from my boyhood.
Such then were some of the goings-on at "Temperance Corners" in the days before our family disposed of the farm and moved to Minneapolis. Since that time several of our relatives, of the Barberg and Tapio families have passed away, but it is always a joy to greet those who survive, and the younger folks.
It is true that "this is a changing world," but the changes are not always for the better. In this article I have mentioned wrestling. I doubt that many "old-timers" consider modern professional "wrestling" an improvement over the old "catch-as-catch-can" style, which was a scientific and relatively humane type of sport.
I wish to close this little reminiscence with my congratulations to all Cokato people who by their labor or means have contributed to the renovating of the old Temperance Hall in this year 1985—a meeting place holding happy memories for so many of us.
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