From the miscellaneous drawer Winton

by Anne Swenson

In 1976 we lived at the bend in Shagawa River in Winton. It was a whole new experience for us. We had been suburbanites most of our lives in the Chicago area. Being an Ely suburbanite was different, as if three miles was a world away.<BR><BR>The river was a treasure, season by season. We learned the stories of the river - the child who drowned, the White Bridge on the Ely side and the Red Bridge on the Fernberg side. The old fire house which was set above the river although only the pilings remained. <BR><BR>The river belonged to everyone. There were skating parties in the winter, river skipping on snowmobiles in the spring, cannonball dives off rickety boards in the summer and duck hunters shooting on brisk mornings in the fall. Sometimes people floated down the river on inner tubes, starting at the rapids near County 88. <BR><BR>Winton was the perfect place for us. The neighbors were warm and supportive. Before long we knew the names of people throughout the town. Even better, we had made friends with many of them.<BR><BR>In Illinois, where my then-husband had been a banker, federal authorities suggested installing a special phone line in the homes of bankers in case there was a kidnapping of family members. Having an extra phone line didn’t seem much of a deterent for crime so we watched over the children, never allowing them the freedom to roam without supervision.<BR><BR>In Winton, such worries left us. Before we were even known in the neighborhood our two children were allowed to walk to the park to try out the playground enticements. It was their first walk alone without an adult to watch over them. <BR><BR>When they arrived home later, the four year old was sporting a fresh Band-Aid and a sucker.<BR><BR>“What happened to Sandy,” I asked her older brother.<BR><BR>“She fell off the slide and Mrs. (Lempi) Maki heard her crying. She took us to her house and washed the cut, gave us Kool-Aid and put the Band-Aid on,” came the reply.<BR><BR>In the years we lived there, we found that Wintonites take to heart without even knowing that it takes a village to raise a child. Friend or foe, Winton cared for its people as if they were family members. Even when they fought internally, they defended Wintonites against the outside world.<BR><BR>Since I was testing out my writing skills, a lot of patience was involved at home and at the Echo. I was a slow writer. What Bob Cary could knock out in under an hour took me several hours of struggling. Even then I had no confidence that the words meant anything (I still struggle with that).<BR><BR>Articles in the Echo in 1975 told that Frank Kuhar and Mark Cherne were delegates to the Model UN and that the Echo was starting a reward fund for information on the missing Babbitt man. <BR><BR>A year later the Echo headlined, “No debate to be allowed at Duluth BWCA hearing; no questions will be asked, none answered.” <BR><BR>Miles Aakhus noted in the paper that gas prices ranged from 52.9 cents per gallon to 64.9 cents in the area. The JCPenney store on Chapman Street had nylon jackets for $4.77 while Pamida offered Alice Cooper’s Greatest Hits for $4.99 (record) or $5.77 for 8-track.<BR><BR>And I was beginning to adapt to our new life.