From the miscellaneous drawer

If you’re older than 60, it’s too early to forfeit the living game.
Since you’re the team leader, you’ll need to review the past performances and set goals.
It’s a new season for all of us.
Indulge in a cheerleader team of words. Come on, you can do this. See, that wasn’t so hard.
And objectives are important to the game. You don’t need to win every game. Minor scores count too.
After all, you did get out of bed this morning. Perhaps you dressed yourself, got breakfast, and checked your email.
Important triumphs even though small. Do you get these? Your team is way ahead! You’ve got stories to tell, friendships to revive.
You’re a winner!
On another note: The early days’ beginnings predict my reactions.
Golden sunlight sifting through pine trees means an easy day. When the light changes from gold to green/gray, storms are ahead.


In Heaven There is No Beer???

Last Thursday I spent a few hours at the home of Bernie and Kathy Barich on beautiful Bear Island Lake. This wasn’t exactly a social visit even though I felt like I was with old friends as the laughs came easy and often.

I initiated our meeting after I found a bunch of polka music on albums, cassette tapes and CDs that were left in the house I purchased in Ely. I ran across a CD from the Ely polka band, “The Barich Brothers.” This homegrown band played during our wedding reception in 1981 in the lower level of the Ely Community Center. I instantly knew the subject of my next column.

Growing up in a Slovenian family, polka music was regularly played at home. The Ely radio station (WELY) hosted (and still hosts) a Saturday morning polka show. At the Mavetz house, WELY was always on the transistor radio that sat on the kitchen counter right next to the jar of orange Tang.


Jim Maki has Finnish oranges growing in a Winton pine tree...

Not often seen, especially in this area, are oranges growing in a pine tree. However Jim Maki has this phenomenon of nature growing in his yard in Winton, Minnesota. He explains this rare occurrence as thus: “These are Finnish Oranges. The Finns in Northern Finland, they love fresh fruit, especially oranges. They were spitting the seeds out in the coral where the reindeer are kept and with all the reindeer fertilizer and the midnight sun, they had these plants coming up and they weren’t quite sure what they were looking at. So they just kept an eye on them and lo and behold the vines start running and they started climbing up the Norway trees and as you can see we got Finnish oranges climbing up the Norway trees. So I ordered a catalogue from Northern Finland. It was called Crapandgrow. It’s a novelty thing. So people drive by and do a double take and ask what is growing up there? I tell them Finnish Oranges. (Also known as squash.) .....


From the miscellaneous drawer

The spring of 1976 my byline began appearing regularly in the Ely Echo. Miles Aakhus was the owner and publisher then and he had encouraged me to change from volunteering a column to working part-time and learning the business. I joined a staff which then included editor Bob Cary, reporter Doug Smith and advertising salesman Sam Cook.
On the staff side were bookkeeper Millie Simonick, and advertising layout persons Pat Harri and Lorene Mauser.
My first assignments were to create a “women’s page” and write feature stories.
There were two newspapers in town then - the Ely Miner and the five-year-old Ely Echo. The papers were as different as night and day. The Miner followed the tradition of noting who was visiting in town and who was entertaining luncheon guests.


From the miscellaneous drawer

If you’re a long time subscriber and reader you may be aware that I’ve always loved expressing myself by writing.
The Echo has given me THE LOVE OF A LIFETIME.
The way most newspapers are run these days is with an eye to the bottom line. Newspaper decisions are based on that limiting fact.
From the first I denied being able to cope with the public side of the newspaper. That was alright, the editor Bob Cary said he’d take care of it, be the spokesperson for the paper. His two days a week on the job were his commitment.
Our commitment to each other was that we would stay with the Echo as long as we were having fun.


September may cool but the clouds may stay closed

Two thirds of 2021 are over and it has indeed been a pretty warm year. We are 2.5 degrees over the normal mean temperature. Seven of the eight months so far have been warmer than normal. Only one, February, was bitterly cold.
Rain equivalent totals for the year have been way down. So far, precip is about 5.6 inches less than normal. Only March and April ran a rain surplus. The other six months have fueled the drought that affects us now.
For September, we’ll get 50% relief. Long range forecasters think the heatwave will break. But, the drought will continue. It is thought we will average one degree below normal for September’s temperature. The thought unfortunately also feels rain will be at least two inches shy of normal.


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.”


Hook and Bullet Club by Nick Wognum

My wife and I have been to many concerts over the years but we’ve never taken in a Christian rock concert. That changed Aug. 5 at Duluth’s Bayfront Park.
First, the venue is great for an outdoor concert. Located right on the waterfront and next to the DECC, Bayfront has become a premier outdoor concert facility.
Being outdoors, the only problem is the weather. We found that out on a wet Thursday night.
Remember, we’re in a drought and rain showers have been few and far between. That wasn’t the case between 6-7 p.m. Aug. 5.
We were able to go in early for a question and answer session put on by For King and Country lead singers Joel & Luke Smallbone. But that’s when the rain came barreling in from the west and soaking the crowd at Bayfront.
We brought umbrellas which did help but rain can be persistent and it didn’t take long to get soaked.


Update from Ely Public Schools Superintendent Erik Erie

A great deal of progress has been made on the 21st Century Learning Facilities Project. Buildings have been removed and footings are going in for the new building. Some renovations to the existing buildings are also underway so that we can use those spaces when school opens this fall.
Some of those classroom spaces will be temporary as we manage through this building project. In the end, we will have a 21st Century Learning environment to educate our students, thanks to the community that has supported this project with their tax dollars. Some of our district residents may qualify for a property tax refund, so I encourage you to got to the Minnesota Department of Revenue site:


The heat will likely stay on for August along with dry conditions

Back in the day, I did pretty well in the science classes offered by Ely teachers like Miss McLeod, Miss Tornquist, Mr. Wetzel, Mr. Mischke and Mr. Anderson. Despite the best efforts of teachers like Mr. Anderson and Mr. Lunceford, I did pretty bad in math classes. However, I did pretty well in college at statistics.
So, a few weeks ago, I was prowling online for information about Duluth’s hottest day in recorded history. I found a list of the hottest temperature recorded in Duluth for each year back to 1918. The info is spotty for the teens, 20s, 30s and 40s but complete for 1950 to today.
Using my ancient statistics skills, I factored those annual highs together to come up with an average high temperature per decade. Here they are from coolest to warmest: The 1990s averaged 89.4. The 1950s averaged 89.8. The 2000s averaged 90.4 The 1970s and 2010s averaged 90.9. The 1980s were warmest with an average annual high temperature of 91.3.


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