From the miscellaneous drawer by Anne Swenson

Recently one of my mentors died. Since I didn’t grow up in this area, I relied on several people to inform me and tell me of the background and people of the area.
Mentor Pete Davis was special. A former World War II survivor, he and his wife, Mary had lived in Duluth while he worked for Minnesota Power, and they retired to Eagles Nest 3.
It’s been so many years ago that my memory has dimmed. What pricked at it was the famous quote about Ely and its many bars and taverns. A religious well known evangelist was quoted as saying: “The only difference between Ely and Hell is that Ely has a train running through it.”
In the 1900s men worked in the local mines, ran bars, and sometimes had a woman as partner. She probably made more money than they did. Ladies of ill repute were plentiful. The old Echo building at 2 E. Sheridan was typical of many of them with big windows on the bar’s front (required so children looking for fathers could see inside). That building held a secret stairway behind the bar on the building’s east side.
The stairs went down first, then the passageway to the upstairs floor gave access to the Madam who resided thereat
Kiddy corner in Central Avenue was the Shagawa Hotel. Former city clerk Art Knutson told me that was where he learned to dance on the top floor where dances were held frequently. He asked me to dance with him at a charity event at the Community Center.
However, it was Pete Davis who told me about Ely’s most notorious madame, Daisy Redfield, who retired with her husband to the wooded area north of Eagles Nest. She became ill in the winter when travel was almost impossible. Her husband volunteered to walk to Ely for medicine. He almost made it back safely but was found in a snow pile.
Most area communities had whore houses but they changed locations frequently. Some women would rent rooms to miners for “board or full board.” It was a tough life.
Pete surprised me from a nursing home phone, when he affirmed that, indeed, I had seen a person man-handling a female patient and action needed to be taken. That was Pete. He didn’t shirk from right and responsibility. I’ll miss him.