My name is Eino Roskinen. Of course, this is not my real name. I was included under that name as a minor character in the novel Cass Timberlane, now considered a rather minor work of Sinclair Lewis but quite a success at the time of publication. It was even turned into a film, with Spencer Tracy and Lana Turner as the stars. Cameron Mitchell played me. I am of Finnish descent, which is not unusual for Minnesota, and nothing to be ashamed of, even though the good judge Timberlane had a problem with it. He also had a problem with Jinny, whom he took away from me. Despite what she told Timberlane, I was certainly interested in her, and our interactions had not been as innocent as she made him believe. I was furious at her for choosing social standing and wealth over me. And look what it got her – boredom, a lost child, an affair with one of the judge’s unsavory friends. What happened to me? Nothing spectacular. Having finished my studies, I moved away. First to New York, where I worked in an architect firm, co-designing run-of-the-mill office buildings. I had a relationship with Dottie, daughter of Polish immigrants and owners of a kielbasa shop. Then luck beckoned, or so I thought, with a job in Los Angeles. Off goes Eino, leaving Dottie behind. All went well in L.A. Good job, easygoing colleagues, interesting work mostly. Met and married Lana, daughter of a partner in the firm and, yes, named after Lana Turner. Two children – Eino and Rosemary. We were a happy family, until the unfortunate holiday in Barbados, where my whole family was killed in a car explosion, leaving only me alive but crippled. The rest is the sad story of a bitter, lonely old man who took to drinking to top it all off. As I’m writing this, I’m 81 years old. Still hanging in there against all odds. Thanks to the kind hands of Dottie, who came out West and became my second wife. Don’t know what she still saw in me. The second chance I got, I owe it all to her. Bless her.
– James Steerforth (© 2022)