Columnists

Sat
18
Aug

From Ely to the State Fair - 50 years ago

I see that the 2007 Minnesota State Fair is set for August 23 through Labor Day, September 3 in St. Paul. Shirley and I were in Minnesota last year when the State Fair was on, and I knew I had to go-the "nostalgia bug" had bitten me hard because I had once gone to the State Fair annually, complements of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. That was over 50 years ago, when I was a "paperboy," or as the Star Trib preferred to call us, "carrier salesman," and I hadn't been to the Fair since.<BR><BR>Still, the memories were vivid, and the trips were a blast because we were unescorted and unsupervised-totally free to do whatever we liked, short of attracting the attention of cops or others meanies who might spoil the fun. <BR><BR> We boarded the Greyhound bus at Rickus' in Ely, waved goodbye and that was the end of any nagging adults.

Sat
11
Aug

Around town - Slovenians

"The more we get together, together, the happier we'll be" and that's the way it was at Doc Udovich's resort! It was music, singing, accordian playing, dancing, renewing friendships, talking and more talking at the annual Slovenian Bash.<BR><BR>It was and is the plan of Jean and Carl Stueland to preserve the Slovenian culture by having these gatherings every year. That plan seems to be working as 120 people participated from all over the Iron Range as well as Ely.<BR><BR>If anyone knows how to do this, it is the Slovenians who refuse to let their culture disappear. The Stuelands have been sponsoring this event for the past three years with Dr.

Sat
04
Aug

Words from a burning heart - Swimming waters

I've noticed the grasshopper bunches all over the town. They seem to be in abundance, like the blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and other fruit. My apple trees are full this year and the tomato plants are heavy with round, green promise.<BR><BR>The beaches are awesome this summer and for some reason I've noticed that just when it seems the water is too warm for us Minnesota residents, it seems to cool off with some wonderfully surprising pockets of current that send a chill up your spine after a day in the 90s.<BR><BR>A few nights ago we went swimming about eight o'clock and while the kids played in the shallows we swam out a little farther and were surprised by two very young loons. They had already separated from their parents, but they were fishing together. Still a little fuzzy looking in the gathering dusk they swam in slow circles and dove again and again.

Sat
28
Jul

From the miscellaneous drawer Life stories

"But," said the charming young woman, "I expected the man to tell more stories about himself. I respect older people and wanted to learn of the wisdom he's gained." <BR><BR>The book club of women of varying ages agreed. The writer was most interesting when the illustrative stories of his life were detailed. <BR><BR>That's not always possible for people.<BR><BR>The stories you tell your children tend to be illustrative. You tuck in a moral to explain a life lesson. <BR><BR>Later in life when you think of a past event that was personally meaningful but carries no meaning to others, contains no insight on how to cope, you are silent, searching your memory for something more meaningful.

Fri
20
Jul

A side order of fishing

Friday night, the tents are all set up. We've moved civilization to the pucker brush. Bag chairs with footstools that double as coolers are all laid out in the circle that holds the reflected firelight. Lanterns hiss and the campfire smoke is drifting to whomever it bothers the most. Campfires sense that. <BR><BR>Breezes drift in and out and we can all hear the waves lapping softly against the shoreline. The sound we do not like is if a boat starts to play "aluminum rock." That music means somebody did not tie off and then we all have to go check to see who screwed up. Tonight no boats lose there tethers.<BR><BR>We're talking and this follows with raucous laughter. Nobody can get by with a jab not landing on him or some verbal "my dogs bigger than your dog" story. The fire spits and snaps. Leaves rustling can almost be the crowd without voice but listening none the less.

Sat
14
Jul

From the miscellaneous drawer Conservation movement in trouble, Bob said

It's difficult to explain to today's Ely newcomers the changes that were happening on the Iron Range in the late 1970s. <BR><BR>During the summer of 1977 it was as if residents were cautiously living on the slopes of an unstable economic volcano. <BR><BR>Reserve Mining in Babbitt was starting its usual five week summer layoff. This was followed, however, by a many months strike by union steelworkers which affected close to 450 Ely miners and over 14,000 steelworkers in the industry. Despair and uncertainty were rattling many homes.<BR><BR>Ready to rage as well were the tempers of locals whose way of life was about to change with proposed legislation for the Boundary Waters.<BR><BR>Area residents, who had habitually picked up and cleaned up after summer visitors to the lakes and forests, resented a future which would forever hinder them from enjoying the waters and woods in their brief time between work schedules.

Sat
07
Jul

Letters from Ely - Profiling

(All generalizations are false. The following generalizations are falser than most. So, and whether you agree or not, please don't call this radio station.)<BR><BR>A few canoeists carefully build their own canoes from perfectly cut-and-aged wooden strips. These are the "Woodies." (No, not that woody . . . and shame on you.) <BR><BR>Another group will pore over every online product review they can find. Then they'll purchase an expensive new ultra-light canoe sight unseen, based on its weight, its straight-line acceleration and the number of cup holders included as standard equipment. If it cost less than $3,000 they're embarrassed. These over-achievers are the "Kevvies." <BR><BR>The third group. . . . well, they picked up a used aluminum canoe five years ago on the way home from a beer run. I call them the "Grummies." <BR><BR>Woodies grind their own coffee.

Sat
30
Jun

From the miscellaneous drawer - Snow

A good friend sent me this poster. It was ripped off a newsstand in London during an awful chaotic situation last winter.<BR><BR>Funny how we respond to changes in the weather when we live in various places around the world.<BR><BR>In San Diego, California I dreaded rains after a hot summer when I was driving. It seemed as if the expressways turned into a grease pit which could set the car into an uncontrollable spin unexpectedly.<BR><BR>When there are extremes in weather across the United States the Echo gets phone calls from subscribers asking if it is cooler here than it is where they live in the hot south. In the winter we get phone calls about how cold it is or how much snow we have on the ground.<BR><BR>Truth is there never seems to be enough snow on the ground for us. Three to four feet of snow is nice because it serves to insulate underground pipes. That amount also makes for softer snowmobiling treks.

Sat
23
Jun

Letters from Ely - Down by the lake

Down By the Lake<BR><BR>Aunt Mabel's normal aches and pains from arthritis had become worse. After a brief examination, her local physician wisely sent her to Rochester for additional testing. They found that, regardless of where the cancer may have started it now resides in her lungs, breast, cervix and bone marrow. And although she has accepted minimal drugs to ease the pain, Auntie has refused chemotherapy or radiation treatments, opting instead to take maximum enjoyment from a life lived day-to-day. <BR><BR>Then again, she has always lived like that. As a child, I remember my family showing up at her house often and usually unannounced. Her smile was always warm and sincere. Within minutes, one of her locally-famous German chocolate cakes would appear from the oven ("I was going to make it anyway!"). For years, we cousins would play inside or out as the weather (and/or our own behavior) permitted.

Sat
16
Jun

Letters from Ely - Stroke it

Stroke It <BR><BR>One friend calls it "The Ely Witness Protection Program." If you look around, it often seems as if 75 percent of the adult males living and working in the Ely area wear beards. (Fortunately, that percentage is significantly less for the female side of the population.) <BR><BR>But why would anyone WANT to grow a beard? As Jane noted with some amusement, professional baseball players with a few days' growth may look handsome, while I look merely homeless. And that's where my beard is at the moment - the "homeless" phase. <BR><BR>Beards require only slightly less effort than a clean-shaven look. You still have to trim the top and bottom a bit unless you're actively seeking that Neanderthal look. And at some point you'll need to start shampooing the silly thing in the shower. <BR><BR>Beards catch the Velcro clasp on the top of your jacket.

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