Hook and Bullet Club

We’ve been busy every weekend cleaning out a house after my mother passed away. Luckily the weather has cooperated with us, and we can look outside to see snow, rain or a mix of the two.
This has been a difficult task, not just because of the amount of things to go through but because, for me, this is the last house I will be cleaning out.
I remember traveling to Hazel Crest, Illinois when I was a teenager to clean out my grandparents’ house. This was a tough time to leave home since I had just gotten my driver’s license and there was a pretty girl who was willing to cruise Sheridan with me.
Instead I was the youngest one in a group of family members trying to decide what to do with furniture, photos, tools, dishes and a variety of other items.


Hook and Bullet Club by Nick Wognum

Finally there was a Saturday with nice weather in our forlorn spring of 2022. We piled in the truck, Mary, Bev, Steve and I and headed for Giants Ridge.
Jim, Kelsey, Brad and Coleman were going to meet us there along with Nella. We would make up a large cheering section for Evan.
This was a snowmobile race where sleds head uphill through gates, winding back and forth over bumps and jumps until they get to the top of the hill.
Evan’s buddy Kael Richards had convinced him this was a fun thing to do and he was right.
Mary and I went over Friday night to watch practice and get a lay of the land. We hadn’t been there since Kael’s grandpa Mark drag raced up the hill back in 2004.


Trout Whisperer

I vividly remember who gave me the fly-tying recipe, I absolutely remember when and where he gave it to me, and not even to sure what I was looking at or hearing, because I new only that recipes, were for cooking, but I was so impressed.
My tutelage was begun.
Threads, hook sizes, bobbins, dubbing, hackle and herl and I re-ally took to it, it felt good in my fingers to make tiny flies, and that was all good and fine until he got me working on beaded nymphs, and the difference they had trout fishing versus, streamers or dry’s, I felt like why bother with anything other than a nymph, I mean they catch a whole lot more fish and I still sit in that church pew today.
If he made one mistake with me it was when he told me how matching the hatch was high church in fly fishing, but nymphs, and how there fished, can hook you a hundred trout to one, I could never go back, I was a catcher, not a fly-casting purist, and have never really strayed from it.


Hook and Bullet Club

For my mother’s Celebration of Life, we had family arrive from both the West Coast and from across the pond.
My cousins Susan from San Diego made the trip as well as my cousin Ingrid and her husband Andrew who reside in London.
Having the three of them here was a real treat and made for some great reminiscing.
The event on Saturday went off without a hitch thanks to Grand Ely Lodge and their staff who did an excellent job.
My thanks to everyone who stopped by to visit and share a memory or two. The afternoon flew by and when it was over I felt there just wasn’t enough time to talk with people who came.
I would also like to thank everyone who has called, emailed, stopped by, or sent a card. Each night we sit down and go through the cards with Mary working on the thank you notes. This way people can read what is written.


Hook and Bullet Club - Spring cruise on Burntside

There were three of us having lunch on a Friday and I was listening to these two talk about putting their snowmobiles away for the year.
They were talking about fogging the gas and how many miles they had put on this year.
I was only thinking about getting out on the lakes and doing some spring riding.
Sunday afternoon my youngest son Evan and I found a few hours to get outside. We loaded up the sleds on a trailer and stopped at a gas station to fill up. A few people gave us strange looks, especially since the temperature was close to 50 degrees.
We knew it was going to be a great day to get on the lake and ride. At the Van Vac landing we unloaded and hit the lake. There were areas with slush and standing water and there were areas that were flat and fast.
We took off to the west end, stopped to take a photo by Doug Luthanen’s boat house and then headed back on the north side. We were weaving between the islands and making our way to North Arm.


Hook and Bullet Club by Nick Wognum

When life deals you a tougher hand, there needs to be a way to get through it. Losing a parent is one of those times and getting outdoors has been a great stress reliever.
When Stan Skelton poked his head in my office and asked if I wanted to play hooky, the answer was yes. We took off on a blue sky afternoon in a new Cirrus four seater Stan was flying for a customer.
“If for some reason I can’t fly the plane anymore, here’s the lever for the parachute,” said Stan. Gotta love planes that come with a system to land without a pilot.
We flew up and over the BWCA which has a 4,000 foot limit so the view is from higher up. As Stan banked the plane to the south the view changed.
“That’s from the Pagami Fire,” he said.
The scar stretches for miles and I think back of the ill-fated decision to drop hundreds of gallons of fuel on what could have been a very tiny fire.


Anne…Here Goes Life…

Anne Swenson took a chance on hiring me at the Ely Echo back in 1978. I told her I would even take out the garbage... and she would recall when she took a photo of my nephew Brent Roberts and I picking up trash along the roadside earlier that year.
That was my real foot in the door. Heavenly Father has used many such circumstances to bring us together working 10 plus years on, 10 plus years off, and now 20 plus years on... and each week I wondered how long this would last as she downloaded my photos we’d have a little visit.


Rest easy, Anne. Your legacy carries on

by Tom Coombe
Echo editor
Anne Swenson never cared about popularity contests, taking the easy way out or capitalizing on her gender to get ahead.
In fact, one of the statements from Anne that I’ll never forget, and one she repeated more than once during the decades I worked with her was this: “I don’t belong to women’s groups.”
Anne, who passed away Wednesday afternoon at the age of 85 and after emerging from a series of health problems that would have taken the strongest among us much earlier, wouldn’t have it any other way.
A trailblazer? Forget about that. She plowed through snow piles a mile high nearly five decades ago, when she purchased the Ely Echo.
Today, women own businesses, sit on the U.S. Supreme Court and serve in the U.S. Senate and one is just a heartbeat away from leading the nation.
That was unheard of nearly 50 years ago, when Anne became one of the only female business owners in town.


Lion versus lamb versus rain versus snow may be the back and forth weather battle this March

I was one of Jack Montgomery’s cub scouts back in the early 70’s. One meeting, he had all of us scouts line up and he gave us a sheet of paper to read. After I spoke the piece, he announced I passed the audition and would deliver the speech at the next pack meeting in the basement of the CC. That was the start of my interest in public speaking.
By the late 80s, I was working at KBJR TV drawing weather maps for legendary meteorologist Jack McKenna. Jack was a big fan of Ely and Winton. He had been a World War Two meteorologist who did forecasting for B-17 bomb groups. For many years after the war, he loved chatting with bomber crewman Tauno Maki of Winton about those days. Jack would also hobnob with Mayor Grahek during the sled dog races of the early 70’s.


Hook and Bullet Club by Nick Wognum

Mary and I made a trip across the state to visit her parents in Perham. We doubled down by being able to watch granddaughter Kinlee race in a kids snowmobile circuit in Perham as well.
These kids, ages 4-14 were tough enough to be out in below zero temps and racing around a snow track complete with corners and hills.
Kinlee is only five but she has the one thing racers must have: no fear.
The races she was in featured 120 cc stock snowmobiles that can still move around the track pretty good with some allowed modifications.
Kinlee was having a hard time getting up a steep hill on the course and her dad Jacob had the solution on hand.
The rules allow you to either put a zip tie or a stronger spring on the throttle connection.
Jacob put the stiffer spring on first and the 120 suddenly sounded a lot faster. He even took it out around the pit area and it moved with him on it.
“Maybe that’s a little too fast,” he said.


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