Dimich Outdoors Article: “Kids, grandpas and ‘Labor Day’”

“Kids, grandpas and ‘Labor Day’”

 By Nik Dimich

Quite a title, huh? I actually feel like a politician, covering everything and working the crowd. Actually, as we enter our nation’s “Labor Day Weekend,” I kind of think all three mentioned in the title fit quite nicely. Let’s start like the “Seinfeld” episode (think “The Betrayal” and India and George’s hiking boots) where, like many plots, including one of the most famous television sleuths of all time, “Colombo,” the storyline starts at the end and works back.

That means we start with my third in the title, “Labor Day.” First of all, I am here to tell you I did not know “Labor Day” was officially called that until, I think, I was in middle school. In our “Iron Range” family (mostly from Coleraine, Bovey and Lawrence Lake), the first Monday of September was, of course, “Farmers’ Day,” the day our Grand Rapids High School Band and my sisters, and other high school marching bands like Greenway’s paraded down the “Streets of Bovey,” in what has been called the “Bovey World’s Fair.”

For our family, Bovey’s “Farmers’ Day” was a time to come in from the cabin on Big Winnie and head (late, I might add) to Bovey, the town my dad always said was named after the rocker “Jon Bon Jovi.” Anyhow, back to the “Streets of Bovey.” To background, Bovey’s late legendary Police Chief Terry Wilke for years wrote a column for the Scenic Range News called “The Streets of Bovey.” Terry was not only a gentle, but strict, policeman and a giant of a man; he was always also colorful and caring.

Terry’s police anecdotes about Bovey (named after the television series “The Streets of San Francisco” with Karl Malden and a young Michael Douglas) were of the stuff you can’t make up. People longed to be in his column; most people, that is, as one of our deer camp members, who I am told begrudgingly made the column as, “Wheeler trailer parked in front of local watering hole reported three cases of deer camp beer stolen from said trailer” was not so enamored. Terry’s title was, “Rounding up the usual suspects,” a great reference to the classic 1942 film “Casablanca.” Terry’s column was not only featured weekly on Twin Cities’ radio stations, it was also often on the “David Letterman Show.” 

Let’s begin with “Labor (Farmers’) Day.” Even though this year “Farmers’ Day” (September 1, the earliest it can be) coincides with the opening of bear season, “Labor Day” actually was the spin-off of the “Haymarket Massacre” which took place in Chicago on May 4, 1886 as a tribute to “labors” throughout America.

The peaceful observation of laborers ended (who was responsible, management or labor?) in the deaths of several policemen and celebrators, (history is sometimes tinged by biased perceptions). Regardless, to avoid future confrontations, President Grover Cleveland designated the first Monday of September to be the day “labor” was celebrated. Thus was born the “Bovey World’s Fair” and marching bands and ethnic bands and the Serbian Sisters’ luncheons and other church lady’s luncheons and, of course, the famous “Duke Skorich” barbeques and other such great events like politicians and candy and floats in the grand parade.

Working again backward, let’s focus on not only “grandpas, but grandmas.” “Farmers’ Day was a time for many of us to go to grandma and grandpas’ house. It was not only a time to picnic with ethnic foods like sarmas, pork loins, lefsa, family potato salads and ethnic pastas, fish fries, and many, many other recipes, it was a time to listen to our elders as they talked about yesteryear hunting and fishing trips and gardening and doing many of the things we don’t do today.

We heard about rowing (I guess with oars or some other such contraption) and casting and making plugs and putting northerns in wetted gunnysacks so they wouldn’t spoil on the way home. We heard about how great fish skin was fried after being scaled (so what is “scaled?”). We heard about having bread close by when serving fish as when a bone was lodged in throats, a clump of white bread would glacier through and carry with it said bone.

We heard about bear hunting back in the day when a bear could be taken with a deer license. There was no talk of baiting or trail cameras or anything close to modern day bear hunting. If you had a valid deer license back then and you saw a black bear during deer season you could shoot it.

Not many hunters did, however, as the idea of “bear meat” or even shooting a bear was not that appealing. At one “Farmers’ Day” get-together, for example, I remember a longtime deer hunter tell, in great detail, I might add, with lots of hand gestures and voice inflections, of a mighty bruin cavorting through the wind-fallen balsams toward his ground stand.

Said veteran, with voice escalating, presented a scenario of a tank-like black bear cavorting the bog like a “Norelco Electric Razor” over “Marlboro Man” stubble.  As he painted a picture of a black “Volkswagen Bug” slinking like, of course, a “Slinky.” Okay, I had no idea what this was, but a quick check into “back-in-the-day” stuff brought me back to the day when everyone knew the “Slinky” was an amazing non-tech toy that would “slink” down from one step to another in an amazing physical progression.

The “grandpas” part of my title has to do with a very neat gesture a granddaughter does for her grandpa every year with Dimich Outdoors. Granddaughter Rose brings her grandpa, Ray Heikkila (of the Arvid Heikkila Coleraine family) on a fishing trip with us each year. At 93, Grandpa Ray is still full of vigor and has a vivid memory of many people and happenings, especially in the early days of Balsam, Bovey and Coleraine. Rose is a great granddaughter and can they catch fish.

As far as kids in the title, well, what can be better than kids catching fish, especially action fish like crappies and sunnies and bass and northerns and perch. Not much. Sunnies are on the roam now as well as crappies, and they are both on weedlines and in deep woody structure. Northerns and perch are also extremely active. There are also some walleyes to be caught, but remember a trophy walleye might be great for your cameras or facebook pages, but “action” is the name of the game for kids.

A couple side notes to remember are that bear season opens September 1 and early goose season is just around the corner. Also, the MN DNR has just announced a public meeting regarding the “special regulations” on Big Winnie will happen this fall. The current regs for the “big pond” have been in effect since 2001 (walleyes 17” to 26” have to be immediately released). The DNR feels their goals have been met and are proposing an increased slot to 18” for walleyes and a decreased top end from 26” to 25” with a six fish limit. Watch for more details.

As you enjoy this Labor Day weekend, remember to salute we the “working people” and even though the world news is pretty shaky, rest assured the “American Dream” is still very much alive. Be safe and get the kids and grandparents out fishing.

Nik Dimich is a year round Grand Rapids, MN and Lake Winnie area fishing guide and outdoor communicator. To book a trip or media event please contact him at 218-259-8459 or at www.DimichOutdoors.com and “like” Dimich Outdoors or Nik and Becca’s Outdoor Promotions on Facebook.

Photo Caption Kids: When family and friends go to their cabins or resorts, fishing is usually on the agenda, but “action” was the name of the game for Pearse, Ben, Jack and Robert as they enjoyed a fun weekend of cabin life and fishing with their dads at “Tim-Bob Camp.”

Photo Caption Bear: Mark Zielke and Nate Anderson have put their time in the “deep woods thicket” locating bears and other wild game. In this modern era of trail cameras you’ll reap the benefits of your labor as anticipation builds through pictures.


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