Things we can learn from 1957

Members of Ely’s Class of 1957 will be in town this weekend to celebrate their 60 year reunion. The Echo was chosen to print their reunion booklet and thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers, a very nice publication was put together.
There were 135 members of the class, a far cry from the 37 seniors who walked the stage this year at Ely Memorial. But the class of 1957 grew up in a much different time.
When they graduated the Pioneer Mine was still in operation with trains hauling loads of iron ore out of Ely. Float planes brought tourists into multiple resorts on Basswood Lake. Mining and tourism existed simultaneously and without the controversy that exists today.
For the class of 1957, their graduation speaker was Franklin Stevens of Oliver Iron Mining Company. Stevens spoke to an audience made up of Kluns, Seligas, Smrekars, Zupancichs, Chelesniks, Hautalas, Olsons, Porthans, Pucels, Skalas, Bubashs and many more familiar names.
In the booklet, 66 of the graduates took the time to write about their 60 years since high school along with their memories of going to school here. The stories are amazing.
Like many Ely graduates, a number went into the military, quite a few became educators, there were scientists, business owners, miners, engineers, police officers and those who worked in the medical profession.
“I went to work in October 1956 at Pioneer Mine underground as a contract miner. I worked there until 1967 when the mine closed. Best job I ever had!”
“Went to work for United Airlines…very challenging as I was usually the only female in the meetings. I could write a book about that subject alone!”
Their memories of high school included being involved in sports and activities, although that wasn’t the routine for everyone.
“I usually hurried home after school to start supper for our family so I was not involved in many activities.”
For others it wasn’t just memories of school years but memories of Ely.
“When I think of Ely Memorial, what I remember is the environment of Ely. Where else could a kid go to school during the day, play a dance job at night, and after that spend the rest of the night canoeing up the Nina Moose River for hunting and fishing in the morning. So instead of remembering classes, I remember trees, lakes, and wilderness. How fortunate to grow up in such a place.”
“Looking back, I think we got an excellent education at EHS. I am definitely proud to be a Timberwolf.”
“I delighted when my high school diploma was handed out by my father, who chaired the Ely school board. I often think about how very fortunate we were to grow up when we did and where we did.”
“What I remember from high school is studying hard to get good grades and spending my teenage summers working for North Woods Trading Company and Basswood Lodge on Basswood Lake.”
The stories are a great read and a reflection of a generation now passing by. The honesty in the writing had us taken aback. Here’s an example:
“I graduated in lower 25% of class…enrolled at U of Minnesota in fall 1957 (since) State Universities accepted all state HS graduates then. Suspended from college for one academic year after second quarter for adolescent behavior, Father kicks me out of house in anger and embarrassment of my behavior in college [Mom cries]…spend two-year Army draft tour in Colorado, California, Maryland, & Kaiserslautern Germany. Following Army tour I re-enroll at the U of Minnesota [now with no parental financial support]. In my first (probationary) return year to college I work part-time, do well, and get appointed first ever “Student” member of Facility Student Disciplinary Committee [due to past experiences], now get to have vote in suspending other students.”
For any class thinking of doing a booklet, please stop by the Echo to see how this one was done. In addition to the stories there are sections dedicated to deceased classmates, to the faculty and to memories from their senior yearbook.
We were proud to have played a small role in capturing a portion of Ely’s history and amazed at the impact the graduates from EHS have made throughout the world.