Columnists

Sun
13
Mar

From The Desk of the Old Timer

Our Crumbling Culture<BR><BR>Critics of American society are quick to point out what they feel are obvious cultural shortcomings such as our lack of community cohesion, poor sense of history and a decline in family values. To many this matter is starkly apparent with the approach of St. Urho’s Day, Wednesday, March 16, with nary a celebration nor any type of observance.<BR><BR>Once, a significant annual holiday in the northland, rivaling or even surpassing the observance of St. Patrick’s Day, it has now all but vanished from the public consciousness. Even the Finns, known for their long memories, hardly give Urho a nod in passing.<BR><BR>The Irish, may they be ever blessed, have never wavered in honoring St. Patrick, that noble cleric who drove the snakes from the Emerald Isle. Once, those of Finnish decent had similar strong allegiance to the patron saint of Finland.

Mon
07
Mar

In the front row

Last Friday night, the Tower-Soudan Golden Eagles were back in familiar territory: playing for a section championship.<BR><BR>A pair of gutsy wins in the Section 7A high school girls basketball playoffs returned a talented group of Golden Eagles to the same spot they were during the fall, when they swept their way to the section volleyball crown and a trip to the state tournament.<BR><BR>They also played for a section title in the 2003-2004 school year, falling short in the volleyball finals against Cook.<BR><BR>Previous success and the experience of playing in big games served the Golden Eagles well in both a come-from-behind quarterfinal win over Littlefork-Big Falls and in Tuesday night’s 55-46 victory over Barnum.<BR><BR>In both games, the Golden Eagles were matched up against teams that relied heavily on young players participating for the first time in crucial tournament games.<BR><BR>For Tower-Soudan, it was old hat.

Sat
26
Feb

Slice of Life

It had been a full day, a leave-the-house-before-eight-and-return-home-after-eight kind of day. But fuller than the day was the moon. And stronger than my tiredness was the moon’s pull. After helping the kids with homework and getting them in bed, I slipped into snow pants and a coat instead of pajamas and stepped outside with my husband and two dogs. <BR><BR>The moon was brilliant. It attracted notice initially because it shone so brightly. We could see clearly down our driveway and through the woods. We were delighted. I ran back inside to grab a scarf and we headed down the driveway for a late night walk.<BR><BR>The stillness of a winter’s night is tangible. We heard nothing but the sound of our breathing and the crunch of our boots in the snow. As we walked a couple miles down our rural road, passing a handful of houses, most whose seasonal occupants left them empty, we talked in whispered voices.

Fri
18
Feb

From the miscellaneous drawer

Someone said it Friday: With the passing of Mary Catherine Brown one of Ely’s well known characters is gone.<BR><BR>Someone added: She never saw a performance in Ely that she didn’t like and write about. <BR><BR>Boosterism at its best, another remarked.<BR><BR>Her life was also commented on before the city council meeting when it was noted that car drivers will no longer have to part the avenue as they did when Mary’s little red car appeared in the vicinity. Just a few dents peppered her vehicle.<BR><BR>For me, I remember Mary Catherine (as she liked to be called) not so much from her working at the Echo. She had been hired by Miles Aakhus, the Echo’s original owner (1972-1977), and wrote a piece about the history of Winton among others.

Mon
14
Feb

Baby Boomer echoes

<BR><BR>There’s something about the month of February, especially to those of us living in the northern sphere.<BR><BR>First off, it’s a shorter month, one full of holidays, longer daylight, (called spring is coming - there’s hope.)<BR><BR>A Boomer kid looked forward to February. Christmas seemed a long ways past, but February brought on new incentive. <BR><BR>How could we pass up the first holiday of February - Groundhog Day?<BR><BR>A kid living in Ely didn’t quite get the national trend of that one. We understood if the groundhog saw his shadow, we’d have six more weeks of winter. They make a big deal out of that in Philadelphia, but Ely kids back then envisioned winter going on into April or maybe May.<BR><BR>We didn’t have groundhogs up here to forecast for us, but if you remember you might have stepped out at daylight on February 2 every year, watching for your own shadow.

Sun
06
Feb

Slice of life

A few years ago, I worried about my young children’s eating habits, as many new parents tend to do. Now that I’ve got a few years of parenting under my belt, I have a broader perspective on the eating issue. What I’ve discovered is that there are many things to worry about as a parent concerning children. Eating needn’t be one of them. <BR><BR>My first born was raised on a strict organic diet until he was almost two years old. Refined sugar didn’t pass through his lips, nor did an artificial flavor or color. His first birthday cake was sweetened with apple juice and made with whole wheat flour. I was such a neurotic first-time mom that I kept a food journal to ensure that he ate the proper nutrients daily. <BR><BR>He was the child I insisted finish his meal before being excused from the table. He was the child who was TOLD what he liked (You like peas, remember?) and what he disliked (That is colored sugar water in wax.

Sun
30
Jan

Baby Boomer echoes

Winter Wear<BR><BR>Anyone raised up here will never forget winter dressing or should I say, dressing for winter.<BR><BR>Boomer kids didn’t grow up with Mylar, Polar Fleece, Thinsulate or Gortex to keep out the cold.<BR><BR>Our cold weather duds came in cotton, heavy weight cotton, corduroy, wool, leather and rubber.<BR><BR>Everyone knows dressing in layers is most practical during the winter season and today that’s not so bad as the layers are lightweight and less bulky. But back then, layering meant lots of clothes, adding weight and bulk to even the slimmest of body frames.<BR><BR>Long underwear was the framework. They didn’t come in fancy colors or flowery designs.

Mon
24
Jan

From The Desk of the Old Timer

The Wimp Factor<BR><BR>Amazing how a cold snap hits after several warm winter weeks and some folks get thrown into a panic. Then, after a few days of subzero temperature, nobody pays much attention.<BR><BR>Friday, Jan. 14, the school was closed. A lot of us could not remember when the Ely school was closed except for holidays. Other schools close. The ones farther south close first, like around Duluth, Proctor and Superior. <BR><BR>You can understand the Duluth School system. By closing Friday and with Martin Luther King Day on Monday, the schools got a four-day weekend. But up here? They don’t usually close the schools on account of weather or even for St. Urho’s Day. Who’s St. Urho? Anybody not familiar with him must be a newcomer.<BR><BR>Anyone who wishes to go back and check on past weather, Global Warming notwithstanding, will find that Ely has experienced weeks at a time when the temperature didn’t get warmer than 20 below zero.

Mon
17
Jan

Slice of life - Dyeing for change

At times, the step I’m taking seems minute, even irrelevant. Other times it looms large and frightening. I’ve decided to stop coloring my hair. <BR><BR>I’ve made this decision against the advice of nearly everyone I know. “You’ll become invisible,” one woman warned me. <BR><BR>“You’ll look older than a grandma!” my kids said (which is probably true because all of their grandmas color their hair). <BR><BR>Even my own mother, whom I usually have to beg for advice, was quick to say, “Honey, DON’T do it,” with more emphasis in her response than I would have received if I had told her I’m leaving my husband and kids to run off to Spain with a 26-year-old matador. <BR><BR>Nonetheless, I’m doing it. <BR><BR>We all know our culture values youthfulness. At least that’s what we hear. But if nothing else, turning 40 last summer has made me realize -finally - that I yam what I yam. And what I yam is grey on top.

Sun
09
Jan

Slice of life

A couple in Florida made national news a few weeks ago when they went on strike to protest their children’s unwillingness to do their chores. The parents refused to cook, clean or drive for their children until the two kids, ages 17 and 12, “shaped up.”<BR><BR>Parents’ striking to protest lazy children is nothing new. Unfortunately, such efforts are usually not effective. <BR><BR>For one thing, a strike involves workers withdrawing their labor to place pressure on their employer to meet their demands. We can infer, then, that parents who strike = workers; kids = employer. From the start, parents who strike put themselves in a precarious position. <BR><BR>Also, the Florida parents may have underestimated their children’s ability to hold out. I’m always impressed by how strong the will of children can be, regardless of their ages or sizes.

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