From the miscellaneous drawer - A nomadic journalist

by Anne Swenson

In the April 30, 1975 Ely Echo, Bob Cary, who had been a recent outfitter, wrote about US Forest Service cooperators. The resorters and outfitters learned that the $245,000 new Prairie Portage Dam was expected to be completed that year and there would be a detour for the motorized (Jeep) portage. Permits were back to 10 people per campsite.<BR><BR>The Timberwolves Rifle Club had taken first place at the NRA Junior Rifle Sectionals in Minneapolis. Team members were Wendy, Anderson, Robert Maki, Brian Kopperud and Jerry Skubic.<BR><BR>In April 28, 1976’s Ely Echo, tourist operators were protesting the permit system which had started in 1967 but was, they believed, creating misleading information. Operators said that people often quit their trip early and did not go where they had declared they were going in the Boundary Waters. <BR><BR>It was estimated that 350 people attended the USDA Duluth hearing on snowmobiles in the BWCA. Multiple use advocates cited the 1964 Wilderness Act in their arguments.<BR><BR>White’s A&W opened on Sheridan Street.<BR><BR>The Ely School District board was considering an insurance plan for instances not requiring hospitalization. The article said “the board would pay the full amount this year and next year. There has been no establishment of a maximum amount they would pay, as is the case on medical coverage. It can be foreseen where this might be done in the future should costs rise rapidly.”<BR><BR>- - - -<BR><BR>Walking into the Ely Echo office in those days found Millie Simonick at reception, Miles Aahkus forever on the phone and Bob Cary hunched over a large typewriter, pounding on the keys.<BR><BR>In the background scurrying between the headliner machine and the waxer was Pat Harri who pasted up the Echo’s ads as did Lorene Mauser who faced her across the slant boards which held their work. Pat was known to be outspoken and a whirlwind at work. <BR><BR>Standing at the front counter with my belabored column in my hand, I felt as if I had entered some almost-magical world. And it was a world where I was not sure how to communicate. A world which held a vocabulary of printing terms which were foreign to me. <BR><BR>I didn’t know how to dress, nor talk, nor fit into this new environment.<BR><BR>Pat would glance up, walk over and snatch my column-to-be and march into typesetter Connee Schmidt’s small office to deposit it to be transformed into something readable.<BR><BR>And though I wanted to start up a conversation about anything, I was speechless.<BR><BR>Phones were ringing, Bob Cary never stopped typing, Lil Cary would appear out of the darkroom wearing gloves to protect her hands so her bass fiddle-playing callouses would remain intact.<BR><BR>Machines clickety-clacked in every room clear back to the alley and the air was a mixture of cigarette smoke, printing press solvents and cleaning supplies.<BR><BR>It seemed a grand and glorious place. It was easy to imagine why Samuel L. Clemens became a nomadic journalist. And why Bob Cary was to make it his life-long career.<BR><BR>This week in the Mesabi Daily News’ Health Section, Bob Cary was featured for his health problems. <BR><BR>Cary is suffering from myelodysplasia, a form of pre-leukemia. It is progressing into actute myeloid leukemia.<BR><BR>Diagnosed over the past winter, Cary has been receiving regular doses of injections to boost his blood count and at least once a week he receives a blood transfusion. According to his doctor, Cary has less than a year to live.<BR><BR>Cary has, somehow, between hospital visits and being part of home life with wife Edie and their families, managed to make the Ely Echo’s weekly deadlines for his columns. <BR><BR>He has plans for a new book. He’s working on a new painting. He still can find things to laugh about. He still finds wonder in the unfolding of spring.<BR><BR>He’s still alive and fighting to find more days to rejoice in the complexities of living.<BR><BR>And we can only hope he does.<BR><BR>