Columnists

Fri
12
Jan

East of Ely - Up hill both ways

Last week the Echo’s publisher, Anne Swenson emailed me and asked if I had kept diaries of my experiences. Afterwards, I pulled out my oldest journal from 1975 that detailed a three-week trek into the border country.
I was surprised by the clarity of my early writing, as I detailed day after day of paddling and portaging.
Meeting others along the way, I asked them to write down their names and addresses, so I would remember them over the passing years. As I re-read this list the other day, I recalled the impact those brief encounters had had on my life.

Fri
05
Jan

Ely and Ski Jumping had a rich history here, starting in 1923

by Anne Swenson -

Sun
31
Dec

Hook and Bullet Club by Nick Wognum - Cribbage?

Cribbage is a great two person card game. Louie Palcher taught me to play years ago and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to pass his knowledge down to the younger generations.
Of course it was hard to focus when I was playing with Louie. We’d take a break from playing in the kitchen and wander over to the porch.
From there we could look out over Burntside Lake on a nice summer day. There’d be some piano music playing from a cassette and soon one of us would be drifting off for an afternoon nap.
Back in the kitchen Louie would be taking the apple potica he made that morning out of the oven. That was another distraction, the delicious smell of the apples and cinnamon baking.
Louie was patient and I was eager to learn. There were many, many games before he decided I should know better and stole points I forgot to count.

Fri
22
Dec

East of Ely - - Take a Daughter Fishing - What was I thinking?

by David Krikorian -

Thu
21
Dec

From the miscellaneous drawer - Dad

The holidays don’t always bring cheer and goodwill to everyone. Listen to the heart speak and revealed will be fears and sorrows as well as hopes and dreams.
In my family, growing up, my mother was the religious one - a lifelong Methodist - while my dad was a former Lutheran who had become an atheist. All in all, he probably wouldn’t be considered a “nice” person. He disliked Jews, blacks, and other ethnicities unfamiliar to him. At least he said he did.
But as a young adult when asked by my Mom to invite some friends for my birthday dinner at her house, I chose a young Jewish family. I worked with the wife and was close to them all.
Then I crossed my fingers. Hours later that evening, I had to pry my friends away from the conversational exchange with my Dad. He and they had such a good time, finding things in life in common and some not so different.

Sat
16
Dec

Hook and Bullet Club by Nick Wognum - Season over

The freezer is full of venison. It took two 16-day hunting seasons but we’ll be able to dine on deer meat this winter and hopefully right up to the 2018 season.
Heading into the last weekend of the muzzleloader season there were some doubters among my hunting partners. I had to send photos of two deer on the ground to prove them wrong.
Saturday morning was a chance to hunt on my buddy Jim’s land up the Fernberg. Twenty-five years ago we used to park trucks there and walk north, crossing ridges as we headed toward the invisible BWCA line.
Today not only are there hunting shacks but year-round homes as well. Jim’s land lies in this area and had been holding deer all fall.
The deal was I would sit in his enclosed tower stand and when I was done, take down the fabric covering the stand and haul it back to town.

Sun
10
Dec

From the miscellaneous drawer - Learning to live life in Ely through its history

It takes a while to adjust to life in Ely. Coming from an urban area years ago, I tried to mold the Ely area in the image I carried with me.
Many of the those things, ideas and mores, reflected the harshness of big cities and an entirely different way of life - with crime, occasional violence, traffic congestion, pollution and population density - driving my thought processes.
I was a card member of the Sierra Club as a result, and somewhat bitter about the world, past and present, as I viewed it. That membership, I came to understand, was part of the urban view generalizing all places unknown. It was generated by the industrial excesses in urban areas especially during WWII. City dwellers were known to trash their environment and there was a naive belief that rural dwellers must (or might) also be doing the same.
That wasn’t the case, I came to find out in the Ely area.

Sat
02
Dec

From the miscellaneous drawer - First 40 years

In the Ely Echo of November 30, 1977, it was announced that there was a new owner of the Ely Echo. That wasn’t part of my original plan which had been to share ownership with other Echo employees. That idea didn’t work out then.
In the intervening years, that HAS happened with son Nick Wognum now being the majority owner, followed by myself, Tom Coombe and Lisa Vidal-Sainio.

Wed
29
Nov

East of Ely - The Joe Meany Breakfast

The year I turned twenty-one, a friend and I paddled the entire route connecting the lakes and rivers of the Hunter’s Island escarpment. Our canoe was a heavy aluminum Grumman. Our food was a combination of freeze-dried dinners, pasta noodles, powdered eggs and any other lightweight stuff we could easily portage.
We planned to be out for over two weeks. Weight was an issue.
I’d lost a few pounds by the time we reached Lac La Croix, dead tired and in need of a quick place to camp. A thunderstorm was closing fast from the southwest.
The pines have grown much taller since that day at the Quetico Provincial Park Ranger Station, when a man standing at the dock waved us in.
The lean fellow in a dark green jacket with a cigarette dangling of the corner of his mouth was the ranger, Joe Meany, who ushered us out from the lightning into his cabin.

Sat
25
Nov

From the miscellaneous drawer - Homeless

Times are indeed changing. I’m grateful to live in a place that is warm, quiet, peaceful and in the woods.
I also appreciate being able to work at a job where I am in contact with many people and I am useful answering the phone and staying in touch with subscribers and readers.
It wasn’t always that way for me.
In my youth, though I had a family in the States, there came a time when I was homeless in Rome. The circumstance was due to some basic funds not arriving because of a mix-up in the postal system. It was an awakening as to how vulnerable I was.
Fortunately, a kind American military family, stationed at the embassy in Rome, Italy, took me in and offered me the tiny room sometimes occupied by a maid or other servant.
From that experience came the expectation that it might not be the last time I would be homeless. Events beyond one’s control are a reality for many.

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