From the miscellaneous drawer

by Anne Swenson

Wednesday night as the northland dealt with the potential for a severe storm and possible tornado, my thoughts turned to the kind folks who have sent emails and cards while I’m home bound. I have a new goal for Monday - to be well enough to come to the office at least for a while.
I’ve missed seeing Echo subscribers and the folks who stop by for photos and copies. I think I will especially regret not cleaning off my desk before summer arrived!
Stuck at home these days, I’ve watched more television in a week than I have in many years combined.
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The 50th year celebration of the first moon landing made me think back to where I was on that occasion; in Duluth, attending UMD. On a bus heading to class I heard the disbelief spoken by bus riders and understood the skepticism of my northern neighbors. Such an event was far outside of their daily life.
Years later I learned of the former Elyite who had suggested the now famous moon landing phrase to astronauts - Simon Bourgin. You now know that the roots for “One small step for man, one giant step for mankind,” had its roots in Ely.
Indeed, some of the astronauts had even visited Ely, comparing our rocky landscape to what they might find on the moon’s surface.
Bourgin grew up next door to Doc Grahek. Simon came from a Jewish Russian immigrant family which owned a clothing store here. Simon received a full scholarship to the University of Chicago and started a storied career in journalism, think tanks and public service.
Yes, the best of the best were drawn to immigrate to Ely in the 19th century. Many came to work in the mines, digging out the iron ore which became the steel for modern skyscrapers and America’s avenue to winning World War II.
Bourgin was hired by Time & Life and sent to Vienna, Austria, to cover the Cold War, Tito and the Russians. Bourgin later became West Coast Bureau Chief of Newsweek in Los Angeles.
A journalist for 20 years, Bourgin next became Assistant to the President of the RAND Corporation, the original post-war think tank, set up to keep the scientists who had helped win the war working on future military problems. In the 1960s, Bourgin became head of the United States Information Agency in Washington.
Bourgin died in Ely in 2013.
I’m proud to live here and be accepted here in Ely’s rich history.