Native son: Polka time in Ely

by Charles D Novak -


From the miscellaneous drawer - Social time

This is a social time of year in Ely. I recently had lunch or dinner out with a number of friends as well as a lovely dinner in house with new friends.
An Ely/California friend said he’d be here for three weeks, and suggested he’d like us to get together with his four sisters while they visited him. The family reunion in Ely was suggested by Jane, my friend’s wife who didn’t make the trip north.
The Sunday afternoon the reunion family came to my house and they brought the food for the meal (delicious!) and one sister’s charming seven-month old granddaughter. It was a delightful time! The sisters came from Florida, South Carolina, Connecticut and South Dakota for the coordinated five day stay.
Two women are approaching retirement age, but all are employed, the oldest sister in the technical world.


From the miscellaneous drawer - Not for sissies

Keeping active is a great boon to aging. Another great boon is having family and friends upon which one can rely at drastic times.
They are great for the aging person, not so much so for the younger ones who get phone calls at all hours and are asked to drop everything to assist with a new elderly problem.
It would not be a surprise to sometimes get an impatient reaction, but tolerance and kindness seem to prevail.
In the latest happening, my trusty 11 year old Jeep suddenly turned on the dashboard battery light, causing me to detour to Mike Motors for help and to son Nick for a ride and the loan of a vehicle.
Eleven year old Jeeps are not flashy. The substitute far-newer vehicle (loaned via Mary’s kindness) would have taken me a half hour to read all the labels if only I had thought to bring along my eyeglasses.


FOOD! GLORIOUS FOOD! A song from the musical OLIVER

by Charles D Novak
Who doesn’t like to eat? Before I get into my favorite restaurants in Ely I have to tell you about the two years that I worked at Vertin’s as a busboy in the mid-fifties. I was three months away from my 15th birthday. At that time you had to be at least 15 to work in Minnesota.
My dad knew Matt Vertin and took me down to the restaurant. He told me if Matt asked how old I was I was to say 15. I was very nervous about lying after all that was a sin. When Matt asked me how old I was I stuttered “fifteen.” My dad looked at Matt and with a wink and a nod Matt said I had the job.
I was to begin the following Monday at fifty cents an hour. I had no idea how I was going to spend all that money! When I left Vertin’s two years later I was making $1.10 an hour.


Hook and Bullet Club by Nick Wognum

In addition to our granddaughter Kinlee, we have also been blessed by our first granddog, Millie.
Megan’s golden retriever puppy has become part of our lives with her frequent visits to our home. With Megan’s schedule of teaching, practices and games, we see Millie on a regular basis. Better to have her over torturing our 10 year-old Yorkie than laying in her kennel at Megan’s house.
We’ve had goldens before and if the opportunity arose, I’m pretty sure we’d trade the Yorkie for a golden, any golden, most any day of the week.
Megan got lucky with Millie, a locally produced dog who is as lovable as can be. Credit that to her owner who picks her up and holds her as if she still weighs 10 pounds. Millie takes it all in stride.
She’s as photogenic as can be so we’ve decided to sign her to an endorsement contract here at the Echo. Look for Millie to star in newspaper ads promoting our new photo business (we’ve already used her picture in several ads).


From the Miscellaneous drawer - How lucky we are!

A Visit from a TIA

With apologies to

Clement Clarke Moore
‘Twas the day known as Christmas, when all through the house
A woman was stirring, and presents were wrapped by the fireplace with care,
In hopes that the family soon would be there;
mamma in the kitchen got overheated
labored too hard when she should have been seated.
So off to the hospital we went in a flash,
It was quick in the car, a bit of a dash;
the staff spoke a few words, and went straight totheir work,
And filled all the test tubes; then assigned me a room,
And While not my choice, it was better than doom.;
Mayo was next As Nick drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
Wednesday night when I headed downstairs, I was thinking “How lucky we are as an Echo family.”


Reflections from the miscellaneous drawer

This is my bah-humbug year. I completed the goals I set for myself for the end of the year. There are now family histories of both my parents along with their parents, and I threw in an abbreviated one on Warren’s family.
But as of last Monday there was not one holiday reminder inside my house.
Yes, I have completed my Christmas list. No, I am not hoping to receive any presents. Please, no. Nothing.
Peace and quiet sounds extraordinary and appealing.
Seeing family members and sharing some time is the best gift to be received.
* * *
Driving the seven miles into town in early morning shows the arc of Ely’s lights penetrating the night sky. The tracks from my neighbor’s car precede mine across the bridge, and alongside the river a light shines from the home of an early riser.



by Charles D Novak
I will be spending Christmas in Ely this year and when the holidays are over I will not be going home - I am home! After a memorable 34 years in San Francisco and 16 years in Minneapolis I moved back to Ely on May 10, 2016 . It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. My homecoming by the good people of Ely has been overwhelming. The first few months walking down the street had cars wiz by me with windows open and passengers yelling “welcome back!” People have stopped and offered me rides without knowing walking is my favorite form of exercise. Talk about Ely Nice!


Hook and Bullet Club by Nick Wognum

An invitation to hunt with a friend is not something to be taken lightly. I was blessed enough to be asked by two friends this past weekend, the middle of the muzzleloader deer season.
I spent two hunts and an overnight at Rob Wilmunen’s shack. We each took up posts in elevated stands not far from the original Wilmunen homestead.
The weather was good, everything felt right but the deer just didn’t want to cooperate. Rob saw three does on a far hillside across from his Midpond Stand but no big buck followed.
I was in the Soldier Field stand and try as I might to make any shadow or irregularity look like a deer, no dice.
But sitting in silence in the woods may be the biggest stress reliever of them all. Even if the deer aren’t coming in for a visit.
Rob passed along a tip from Bill Scott who suggested putting a small blanket in each stand. Drape the blanket over your legs and the warmth will keep you out in the stand longer. Try it, it works.


From the miscellaneous drawer - Lessons learned

There was an advantage to growing up in a household with two politically-opposite parents.
They always voted, and almost always they voted at opposite ends of the spectrum. And not always endorsing the party or person they had voted for in the past.
And above everything, they believed in freedom of speech. That also entailed the freedom not to speak.
Over the years at the Echo I’ve learned some odd truths.
When a person is angry about something, perhaps not even within his or her control, is it better to rant and rave, bringing additional attention to the anger-causing incident, or is it better to keep one’s peace?
One way drags out the issue and may cause more hard feelings, the other allows the incident to fade into perspective or even become an object lesson of respect for differences.
If one chooses to be offended, just living with criticism or differences in viewpoints is enough to make one testy and disagreeable.


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