From the miscellaneous drawer

by Anne Swenson

I’m a collector of old telephone books and I recently set out to see what secrets the 1979 phone book held. Since it was just a few years prior to that I had purchased the Echo and things (businesses) were already changing.
There were 16 canoe outfitters listed in the ’79 Ely area at the time and four bait suppliers.(21 outfitters in 1980) .
And since it was the height of the tourism boom there were 35 resorts in the 1979 Ely area and 16 in Tower. Perhaps as a prelude to the new retirement people arriving there were 14 Realtors that served the area (11 in 2018).
Ten restaurants served ’79 hungry diners.
Four bars or night clubs provided thirst quenchers. And six liquor stores provided take-home brews. Also in 1979 seven car dealers serviced the area. Five grocery stores and four hardware stores held forth.
About 20 years later in Ely 2018 the names and numbers had changed. There were 10 canoe outfitters listed in the Ely area at the time and four bait suppliers. And by 2018 there were now 28 resorts in the Ely area (those in the BWCA were evacuated).
It should be noted that business listings in the yellow pages came at an added expense to businesses and some didn’t pay the extra amount to be included. Perhaps as a prelude to the newly retired, there were the same 10 restaurants serving hungry diners. Four bars or night clubs provided thirst quenchers. Only two liquor stores advertised take-home brews.
In 1981 only one car dealer serviced the area. Two grocery stores and two hardware stores held forth in 1981.
When I worked for and later purchased the Echo, logging and mining were the main sources of income in the area, providing taxes and incentives to the population.
To deny the whole state of Minnesota the right to the earth’s many resources seems short-sited and intemperate with today’s technology and open minds. Let’s recognize the potential of the present and future and move toward it.