Great entertainment offered last week

Rising above everything else going on here last Wednesday, again the glorious tones of Jackie Grynol, with Bob Wepruk’s orchestra at the Rainycrest dance, probably earned greatest admiration, although the Shrine Circus at the Memorial Sports Centre stunned the audience with the believably largest elephant on tour. That elephant worked hard to earn its keep, although far below Jackie in musical brilliance as it stuck to musical instruments, playing a huge harmonica and horn and drum to prove its versatility. While I missed the circus, my favourite singer continues to steal all hearts. Jackie opened with a song she might have written herself: “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.” Television doesn’t offer any better quality entertainment. Showing full appreciation, audiences applauded both events while Bob’s musicians, including Dave Hughes on accordion, George Elliot on violin, Sam Matacorn, and Bob supplementing the vocals with his guitar. Rainycrest birthdays for May were announced for Norah Walsh, Sally Gill, Pearl Morgan, Lucy Cyr, Margaret Thompson, Pauline Harcleman, Maria Felix, Cliff Crawford, John Labelle and Bob Bernard. Some above were among the dancers last Wednesday—and in fine form.
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Around town, I’m hearing of gardeners chasing deer, bears, and raccoons away from their backyard vegetables. The wild animals are cropping all the tops except for onions and potatoes, I’m told. When I remarked on my own gardens, either on the farm or next to the forests, or my Dad’s place at Mine Centre, someone supplied the explanation that we always kept barking dogs to scare away the wild thieves!
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When I met an American here at the opening of fishing season earlier over the holiday weekend, he inquired about muskie fishing and I gave him my favourite fishing story (while thinking there might be more Americans here than fish right now!) He seemed eager to talk fishing and I could not resist because Annie Kielczewski was always among my favourite outdoors people hereabouts. The wife of popular Frank, she was mother of his second family of three sons, Alton, Paul, and Allan. Frank’s first family, including Orrah, are still up in Alaska, whence came their popular book. I definitely was not the hero of this Rainy Lake fishing story: When a giant fish head came up over the boat’s back end close to me, I was grateful for Annie’s experience! Riding in the bow, she promptly grabbed a hammer and walked back to bang that monster fish between the eyes—and it was almost ready for marketing! But for ordinary fishing with little equipment, our lower river here close to the papermill machine shop yielded more good meals than most places. The rocks usually were within wading depth and, from there in mid-stream, everyone with a bamboo fishing pole (and no need for an expensive rod and reel) could make out very well. We usually got our fill here and frequently without fishing licences. The Kielczewski name first came up for me at Mine Centre, where I knew Allan at school. Later, he was brought to my Fort Frances home by his father in order to begin high school. (All three Kiels’ sons are gone now but Allan’s own three sons continue fishing around their old Rat Island home 40 miles east on Rainy Lake). Incidentally, that big muskie that started this chapter, which I’ll never forget, weighed in at more than 300 pounds!
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Ever know a large family of bush cooks locally? The Leeson family, composed of several sons of formerly well-known Winnie Mathers, followed that trade very well and I was fortunate to be acquainted because their mother was a friend of my own. Their mother, Winnie, and later her second husband, Jack Mathers, would be found mostly in one of several homes. They moved from Nelson Street, where first I knew them, north to Third East, and finally beyond the long-ago lumber yards in the East End. Let’s see now, these talented and sociable brothers, who even would take turns cooking while at home from the bush around Flanders, included Russell, Frank, Delmer, and Merle Leeson, with their sister, Isabel. She soon married Gus Lindholm, who fit right in. Winnie re-married and had a second family, twins Jeanie and Sonny, and then another boy, Buddy. I don’t suppose they became cooks for our lumberjacks, also. For a pleasant afternoon or evening, you’d join the Leesons and Mathers because any one of them—or all at once—would undertake to put another great meal on the table. Occasionally, Winnie would contact my own mother to have me chop heads off at least two of her backyard chickens because her boys were coming home. My parents would be invited there and the card playing would commence with anywhere up to a dozen to feed afterwards. Then the bush cooks would don aprons and take turns producing their own specialties to go with the chickens. The Leesons always had room for a large garden to provide much of their food right at hand. Later, they might start back to the railroad to return to their bush camps, maybe by boxcar! Then next spring, look out! Here came the Leesons’ back to show off their cooking with their camps closed for another summer.
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Gasoline went to $1.25 a litre early last week! That’s $5 per gallon—and still climbing!
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My friend “Nutty” has made it clear to me that his growing family requires much more peanuts fed to him and “Bridey” to keep them strong enough to support their brood of four. Apparently their kids are developing rapidly, and Nutty and Bridey must find more and more food. He cannot believe I suggested the kids are outgrowing their hollow home at nearby poplars and maybe should be dropped down to the ground, where they soon will be able to fend for themselves. My daughter’s suggestion that we start them on birdseed, which their parents enjoy, does not please Nutty because then the birds will be bothering his young when their parents are gone. So what to do before we go broke with that hungry family? I’m afraid we’ll just have to reduce their store food because most squirrels don’t live that well. But here Nutty objects because he probably manages to get most of what we offer and, since this is his first family to raise, believes the kids don’t need all they get. This is turning into a constant struggle, it seems, unless Bridey can solve it!
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Correction: For Jean Bolen’s 80th birthday event coming up June 1, upstairs at the Legion, only one band will be performing rather than “many” as erroneously reported earlier. Pat Porter is bringing his popular musicians there from International Falls.

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