Columnists

Sun
06
Aug

From the miscellaneous drawer - Of journalists past

It was difficult to believe the enthusiasm for the Ely Echo spouted by those friendly, knowledgeable faces in the 1980s. He came from a journalism background and his wife was an Ely girl who became an attorney and Realtor. They were a striking couple, articulate and vivacious.<BR><BR>"Slabs Slabodnik was my dad," Pidge told me when explaining why they come to Ely from the Twin Cities. "We have a place on White Iron."<BR><BR>Their love of visiting Ely during the summer conflicted with husband John Hodowanic's job as executive director of the World Press Institute. Summer is when the 10 world journalists arrive in St. Paul to spend four months learning about the United States.<BR><BR>The Echo and the Hodowanics combined our interests and the WPI-Ely connection began.<BR><BR>The first year the Echo held the public forum in the JFK Cafeteria and lunch was at Vertin's.

Sat
29
Jul

From the miscellaneous drawer - Lesson learned

In the long ago summer when the old homestead burned on the other side of the hill, I learned a life lesson which stayed with me. As usual I was staying with my aunt (my mother's sister) and uncle for part of the summer.<BR><BR>The farm house which burned had been my uncle's childhood home but had long since been abandoned. It was reached by walking from their newer farm home, through the meadow with fields of corn and hay on either side. <BR><BR>The old homestead's windmill still drew water for the milking cows and sheep grazed in the front yard which had a long time past had been the playground for my uncle. Did he have siblings? Perhaps a sister. I didn't know his family well. <BR><BR>There was a bad storm the night of the fire and I had awakened in my small room under the eaves of the white clapboard house to see the flames rise over the hill, not far from Spoon River where the cows grazed in the timber.

Sun
23
Jul

Letters from Ely Courage

Courage <BR><BR>There is courage in the little girl, hugging her mother and then walking alone toward her first day of school. And there is courage in the mother who must stand there watching her go. <BR><BR> There is courage in the 10 year old boy who has just stepped squarely upon a framing nail while playing at a construction site with friends. . . courage as he limps home with half the nail protruding through the top of his foot. There is courage in the mother who, without insurance or money for a doctor, first removes the nail in a single firm motion and then, tears streaming down her cheeks, pours tincture of iodine into the open wound as the boy's older sisters hold him down. <BR><BR>There is courage in the middle-aged couple whose love for their parents is anchored in a lifetime of reciprocal love. Courage in their acceptance that they alone can no longer give those parents the care they need.

Sat
15
Jul

Bush Pilot- Iron Mines of Ely

Part 3<BR><BR>Now, how about Miners Lake? In February 2000 1 received an email from Jim Cochran, who used to live in Calumet Location. The family left Ely in 1930 when he was 10 years old. I believe his father was a policeman for plant protection at the Oliver Iron Mining Company. I vaguely remember someone in officer’s uniform, but the name Kauppi comes to mind. I was six years old at the time.<BR><BR>Jim was in Ely in 1999 but didn’t see anyone he knew. He asked a man how long that lake had been there, and the man replied that the lake had always been there. Not so. <BR><BR>Jim said he walked home from Pioneer School (at Eighth Avenue and Camp Street) to Calumet Location, through the land where the lake is now. I walked that road often, along with many others. <BR><BR>After the bus unloaded students at Pioneer School, it continued on to Washington School.

Sat
08
Jul

Letters from Ely Quiet water

Quiet Water<BR><BR>It was almost time to put it all away for the season. But on this relatively balmy morning in mid-October, we managed to get the canoe out for one last day trip. The previous month I’d put together a small, four-by-eight-foot brush trailer as a tool to help in clearing the front woods. Today, that same trailer would perform reasonably well as a canoe caddy. The trailer rack is more than sturdy enough to support that heavy old Grumman - and loading a canoe onto a four-foot high trailer rack is much easier than wrestling it onto the top of the pickup/camper shell as we once did. Ahhhhh! Recreation is much more fun when it’s easy. Jane swears much less with this arrangement, she comes out with us more often . . . and I think her cooking has improved.<BR><BR>Today, son-in-law Eric and O.C. (my own eleven-year old) were eager for their last chance to put a line in the water. We had the canoe lashed down to the trailer in minutes.

Sat
01
Jul

New Stand - A matter of time

I was sitting in an antique jeep in Zumbrota, MN when I received the phone call I was dreading. <BR><BR>“Bob passed away a little while ago,” was the message. I don’t remember what else was said by either party. My mind just went blank.<BR><BR>I knew this was going to happen, but of course it’s still a surprise when it does. We were heading toward the downtown area for the city’s Covered Bridge Music and Arts Festival.<BR><BR>This was a big event because it is Zumbrota’s sesquicentennial and the town had turned out in full force for the parade.<BR><BR>I was visiting the Groteboers who are very involved in the Rochester Shrine Cycle Patrol. Steve, as captain, would be leading the motorcycles through the parade route, zooming up and down Zumbrota’s main drag. <BR><BR>But my mind was a million miles away. It took a walk and some time alone to collect my thoughts before I could make some phone calls and clear my mind.

Sat
24
Jun

Cary’s legend sure to grow

Bob Cary and I had a relationship along two lines. One was as his employer for 28 years, the other was as his friend for 30 years.<BR><BR>In many ways the two were poles apart. As his employer, I expected Bob to show up at the office 2-3 days a week. Sometimes he came in from his home on Moose Lake more often, sometimes less. Since he had no phone it was his choice. Monday was the day the Echo was “pasted up” and part of his job was to paste up and help write the front page, so that day he was almost always at the shop.<BR><BR>He wore plaid flannel shirts, work pants and a big Stetson hat and the phone started ringing when he walked in the Echo door. His wife Lil worked for us in the Echo photo lab and she worked the same hours as he did. It was a package deal. Together they got one pay check, always in Bob’s name.<BR><BR>Together they designed and built the photo lab with its labyrinth entry which kept out the light.

Sun
18
Jun

At the beginning of the road - Aging parents

Many of you have had the need to help your parents deal with their increasing infirmities from aging. It is a bittersweet task to acknowledge that time and nature are not the friends of those in their twilight years. Two people I knew in Ely recently died rather sudden deaths. They did not linger trapped in a wheel chair, but then they died years earlier than what those government statisticians claim is our due. <BR><BR>It is natural to fight aging. I always enjoyed the crusty old woman played by Judi Dench in the movie Chocolat. She refused to go to a nursing home as her daughter demanded. Knowing her time was near she threw a party and enjoyed herself too much. That night she died in her chair. I wish we all had that option, but dying comes in so many colors. <BR><BR>The last two weekends I had to drive down to the Twin Cities to see my mother who had landed in a nursing home after taking a fall in a parking lot.

Sun
11
Jun

Letters from Ely - Drive time

As usual, I’d left the leaving for far too late. In order to honor previously-made work commitments, I would now have to compress 35 hours of driving into a 48 hour period. <BR><BR>Crossing into Nebraska at 2 a.m., fighting sleep and tiring of the compact disks I had with me, I turned on the radio. At this hour and in this state, the only available choices were country music or evangelical fire-and-brimstone. I listened to country music for a while, long enough to confirm that heartbreak, hard times and drinkin’ were still the driving economic force in that genre. <BR><BR>Tiring of this, I pushed the “Seek” button and landed on an evangelical station. An emotional preacher was telling an apparently large auditorium audience about the many horrors of social liberalism, women’s rights, workers’ unions, Muslims and other racial or religious minorities. In short, it was a half-hour hate fest.

Sat
03
Jun

Around town Small town trivia

Did you know?...The name “Ely Echo” was given to a Finnish male choir which was organized about 1892-93 by the late Emil Bjorkman. The choir was called “Elyn Kaiku,” which means Ely Echo in Finn, and just goes to show you, there are a lot of people with good taste!<BR><BR>Did you know...WXLT was the first radio station in Ely, owned and operated by Charles Ingersoll. Those call letters were the same letters used by a radio station in Alaska where he had worked during WWII.<BR><BR>Did you know?...There are about 50 realtors in Ely? With about 100 (estimated) homes for sale, that gives each realtor two sales a piece. (Guess I’ll stick with my day job.)<BR><BR>Did you know? ...It’s better to turn your car engine off while parking for a short time. Consumer Report says idling uses more gas than restarting.

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