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North Shore Morning

AM Community Calendar/photo by masochismtango on Flickr

News & Information

News and information, interviews, weather, upcoming events, music, school news, and many special features. North Shore Morning includes our popular trivia question - Pop Quiz! The North Shore Morning program is the place to connect with the people, culture and events of our region!


What's On:
Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

Dr. Seth Moore: Tribal climate change symposium

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Dr. Seth Moore is Director of Biology and Environment with the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

The Grand Portage Reservation is located in the extreme northeast corner of Minnesota, on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Cook County. Bordered on the north by Canada, on the south and east by Lake Superior and on the west by Grand Portage State Forest, the reservation encompasses a historic fur trade site on beautiful Grand Portage Bay.

The band engages in fisheries and wildlife research projects throughout the year, working with moose, wolves, fish, deer, grouse, and environmental issues. Dr. Moore appears regularly on WTIP North Shore Community Radio, talking about the band's current and ongoing natural resource projects, as well as other environmental and health related issues of concern.

In this segment, Dr. Moore talks about attending a climate change symposium at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., with other coastal tribes from around the United States.  Produced by Carah Thomas.

Songwriters gather at Sawbill for a jam sesson: photo by Jessica Hemmer

West End News: August 2

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A couple of weeks ago, West End seniors took at trip to Grand Portage. They enjoyed a picnic and fellowship at Elderly Nutrition Services, and then toured the new visitor’s center at Grand Portage State Park. Some of the items in the interpretive display were contributed by avid Birch Grove supporter Iola Wojtysiak. The new, critically acclaimed historical documentary about Grand Portage was screened and enjoyed by all.

On Wednesday August 8, the West End Seniors are once again taking advantage of Grand Marais State Bank's generous gift of the AEOA bus for a trip to Finland Community Center for lunch and music. There is a small charge for lunch. The bus leaves around 10:45 from Birch Grove, and will probably have extra spaces, so feel free to join in for a fun day. There will be no senior lunch at Birch Grove that day.

Senior lunch will continue to be every Wednesday after that with a delicious menu prepared by Barb Merritt. Everyone is welcome, but give a call ahead if you are not a regular to make sure enough food is prepared.

Keep in mind the annual fall color tour to Trestle Inn in September. Details will be announced as the date draws nearer. As always, you can call Patty at 663-7977 for details about activities at Birch Grove. Or, stop by for a visit and a look at all the construction that is underway this summer.

The renovation of Father Baraga’s cross in Schroeder is now nearly complete. Volunteer Ginny Storlie from Lutsen quipped that it is an ecumenical project as the Lutherans did most of the work to spruce up a memorial to a Catholic priest. Stop by to see the results of all the recent labor.

I was pleased to read that the new cell phone tower in Tofte is moving ahead. Another cell tower is reportedly scheduled to go up in Schroeder this summer. It is long past time that the entire West End had reliable cell service. When I was traveling in rural Kenya in 2010, I mentioned to my hosts that my community didn’t have reliable cell service. The folks I was talking to are subsistence farmers, in their 70's, who have never had electricity or running water, and they were appalled to hear about our lack of cell service. They not only had good service on their farm, but they had a choice of three providers. Granted, they had to take their phones to a shop in the village to be charged by a small generator, but once charged, they used their phones routinely. The patriarch of the family, a lovely man named Dixon Oolu, remarked that he was under the impression that the United States was a well-developed country and he couldn’t imagine how we got along without cell service. I’m glad that we’ll soon be catching up to rural Kenya technologically.

Shelby Gonzalez, marketing manager for the Cook County Visitors Bureau, wants people to know that there is a new resource available for information about bicycling on the Bureau’s website, found at Along with general information about all the wonderful biking opportunities in Cook County and especially the West End, the website allows you to print out detailed maps and descriptions of bike routes that are customized to your, or your customers, personal preferences. Call Shelby at 387-2788 if you have questions or suggestions.

Last week, a friendly and outgoing fellow named Jerry Vandiver paid a visit to Sawbill. Jerry is an avid canoeist and a frequent and well-known visitor to the county, especially around Grand Marais and the Gunflint Trail. When he’s not canoeing, Jerry is a professional songwriter based in Nashville, Tennessee. He basically goes to the office every day and writes songs for country music stars. His name is on tens of millions of recordings, including some major hits for country music legend Tim McGraw, among others.

While visiting here at Sawbill, Jerry invited local songwriters Bump Blomberg and Eric Frost to a jam session around the campfire. The Sawbill crew and lucky campers were treated to hours of top quality music from three accomplished songwriters. Jerry, the consummate professional, was highly complimentary of our local songwriters skills. Jerry is planning to return next year, for another songwriter’s jam here at Sawbill. He is also working with North House Folk School to explore teaching a songwriting class there in the future.

Wild Rose Hips

Wildersmith August 3

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“Neebing” has moved into August, and before the northland can even blink its eyes, the full blueberry moon has come and gone. Yep, a couple nights ago the big cheese in the heavens glistened down on the land of midnight blue waters.

If you missed this one, though, we’ll have another before Augustus will bade us farewell. I don’t know what the Ojibwe call it, but this a month of the blue moon.

A review of the week’s weather has seen a goodly amount of rain in the Wildersmith neighborhood, and some typical summer temps, not too hot and not too cold. The rain gauge readings in my yard totaled just about four and one-half inches with one effort yielding a wonderful two during one overnight drenching.

This rain has held the Gunflint Lake level summer decline in check for the time being. It had been dropping off about three-quarters of an inch per day in spite of the off and on rains that have happened in the past six weeks.

The rain has also cooled the water temperature slightly. At our dockside, a week ago, it was 78 degrees, and since, has dropped off to the low- to mid-70s in concert with some cooler night air.

Our new month has me thinking of autumn. The dogbane along area roadsides has already taken on a 24-carat hue. I see wild rose hips having emerged into their brilliant scarlet tone, and there’s a strange early color transition in the tamaracks up on the Chik-Wauk site.

It’s also harvest time in a big way all over the territory. Take your pick from blueberries, serviceberries or the reds of raspberry and thimbleberries. It looks to me like there’s going to be a lot of potential for pie makin’ and jam/jelly preserving.

Another moment of time in the forest has shown me a number of those wooly caterpillars. All observed to date are nearly coal black with little to no brown.

I don’t know if there is any significance to this coloring issue. I remember someone once mentioning that the darker the woolies, the harsher will be the coming winter. So much for that old wives tale, but if there is really something to it, bring it on and let’s see!

Several critter reports have come my way during the past week. A gal down the road tells of having a quartet of pileated woodpeckers land in her yard. They came in single file formation and touched down in the same manner. They hung out for a while, then departed one right after the other. I have never seen four in one group at the same time. Perhaps it was parents and kids on an educational outing.

Same lady also tells of having a loon pair cruise into and around her little bay on Gunflint recently. This is not too unusual, but the fact that momma loon had three chicks crawl onto her back via an extended wing seems rare to me. I have never seen a loon pair with more than twins.

Up the animal ladder another rung or two, I have two reports of a large Canada lynx sighting. The bigger-than-usual cat was first observed in the middle of South Gunflint Lake road by a bicyclist. More recently, it came into and hung out in a resident’s yard along the Mile O Pine, providing a number of photo ops.

If this fat cat is as large as reported, it’s no wonder that I’ve been noticing a scarcity of snowshoe hares lately. From a nutrition standpoint, this wild feline probably thinks it’s died and gone to heaven, because we’ve been seeing an increasing number of the long ears for the past couple years.

Getting back to thinking of pies, residents and visitors alike should mark their calendars for the third annual pie and ice cream feast sponsored by the Gunflint Trail Historical Society. The sweet treat event will be held Saturday, Aug. 11 on the grounds at the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Donations from the fundraising effort will go to the Museum to assist with continuing program development.

A trip up the Trail will be well worth the time to get a sampling of the great pastry skills of resident bakers. Think of that, pies from the fruits of the forest served out in the forest, it can’t get any better!

Keep on hangin’ on, and savor the sweetness of the woods!

Airdate: August 3, 2012

Photo courtesy of Jerry Kirkhart via Flickr.

Photo courtesy Banadad Trail Association:

Banadad Trail to get an upgrade

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The Banadad Trail Association is undertaking a fundraising campaign to construct a new section of the trail and enlarge the parking area on the trail’s west end.

The project will reconstruct the west end of the Banadad Trail, which crosses private property, secure a permanent easement, and ensure continued access for skiers from the west end.

A change in property ownership will allow the group to improve the west end of the trail, which is popular with both day skiers as well as the through skiers, who ski the entire 29 kilometers in one day.

The project cost is $11,340. The BTA has been awarded a Trail Connections Grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)that will cover $7,800 and the Association must raise the balance.

In this interview, WTIP volunteer Mark Abrahamson talks with Banadad Trail Association president Linda Bosma.


What is known today as the BWCAW'S longest groomed ski trail, the Banadad, was developed many years ago as a network of old trails and logging roads.

In the late l920's Charlie and Petra Boostrom established their homestead just southwest of Meeds Lake on Moon Lake. With the Boostrom's help a logging camp was built near the lake and a logging road constructed between Moon and Poplar Lake.

Most of the timber from the Moon Lake area was transported along this road across Poplar and then down the Gunflint Trail to Grand Marais. Some of the logs were sawed at Sam Sepalla's saw mill located where Poplar Lake Lodge now stands.

Construction of the Finn Lake logging road began in the late l950s. This road was to become the eastern end of the Banadad. The road began at the General Logging Company's abandoned railroad grade just east of Poplar Lake (now the Lima Mountain Grade) and proceeded due west about ten miles to Finn Lake passing just north of Moon Lake enroute. Portions of the old Moon to Poplar logging road were incorporated into this new road.

The construction of the road and the subsequent logging was controlled by the Kimberly- Clark Company. While several small logging camps sprung up along the road, the company's largest camp was built just north of the old Moon Lake logging camp.

According to Hank Larson who was logging in the area during this period, "in l962 there were some eighteen to twenty-four men logging in the Finn Lake area. About twelve of them were "shackers." Shackers is the term used to describe the men living in the camps.

During the early l960s another road was constructed from the Finn Lake Road north between Banadad and Rush Lakes across the Banadad Creek, continuing north for another quarter mile where it intersected with the Dawkin's and Birch Cliff Logging Roads. The Dawkins Road came in from the west and the Birch Cliff Road from the east. The Dawkin's road, also know as the Rib Lake road, began at the Gunflint Trail near the Loon Lake Public Landing. The Birch Cliff road connected with what was then the Winchell Lake fire trail beginning on the Gunflint Trail just east of Poplar Lake (now the access road to the Poplar Lake Public Landing).

In l964 with the passage of the Wilderness Act most of this area was place within the newly created Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCAW). The act prohibited logging in most of the area. Road construction and logging ceased, the men moved out and over the next twenty years the forest began to reclaim the logging roads.

Meanwhile the resorts on the Gunflint Trail began developing cross country ski trails.In l972 the first ski trails of what was to become the Upper Gunflint Trail system were constructed by Borderland Lodge.

About the same time the owner of a now defunct resort on Hungry Jack Lake and Bearskin Lodge began developing ski trails. These trails were to develop into Bearskin and Golden Eagle Lodges' Central Gunflint Ski Trail System.Following a bitter struggle pitting mostly city "preservationist" against "local" people from the area surrounding the BWCAW the l978 "BWCAW Act" was passed by Congress. While local residents were not happy with the legislation, they had managed to incorporate into the bill a provision that allowed for the grooming of ski trail within the BWCAW by snowmobiles.

By the early l980s Borderland, Gunflint and Heston's Lodges in the Upper Gunflint area and Bearskin and Golden Eagle Lodges in the Central Gunflint had develop extensive ski trail systems. They were now interested in connect the two systems.

Thus in l982 at the urging of the lodges, the U.S. Forest Service authorized the construction within the BWCAW of a ski trail between the Upper and Central Gunflint ski systems. The old Dawkins road, Birch Cliff and Finn Lake system was selected as the proposed route for this trail. During the summers of 1982 the accumulated forest growth was cut and cleared by crews from the Forest Service from the Dawkins, Birch Cliff and the eastern end of the Finn Lake Roads. Grooming by snowmobile of the this trail was authorized and the trail was opened for skiing that winter.

The Subsequent year the Finn Lake Road and Banadad links were cleared and this route replaced the Birch Cliff section as the Banadad's eastern end. The Upper and Central Ski system were now connected by a twenty- seven kilometer groomed ski trail through the wilderness. First called the Ski Thru Trail, Artery Trail or Tucker Lake Trail, depending upon whom you spoke to, the trail was officially named, by the Gunflint ski resorts, the Banadad in 1984.

More information at


A full moon over Lake Superior

Northern Sky: A Real Smorgasbord of Splendors

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Deane Morrison is a science writer at the University of Minnesota, where she authors the Minnesota Starwatch column. In this edition of Northern Sky, Deane explains what's going on in the first weeks of August. There are two full moons, plus a rare grouping of two planets and a star. Learn more in this edition of Northern Sky.

Read this month's Starwatch column.

Photo courtesy of Kyle Rokos via Flickr.

Swallowtails find a shady patch of ground and vibrate in the sheer joy of being

Magnetic North: Flutterbys Are Us

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Welcome back to Magnetic North where the air is filled with winged things, and not the kind with feathers!

No, I speak not of the dread mosquito, or black fly or no-seeum, but of butterflies. For some reason, the population of Monarch and Swallowtails is way, way up this season. With the first blossoming of dandelions on our backyard lawn, the burnt orange Monarchs literally swarmed above the ocean of yellow fuzz balls.

My granddaughter, Jane, stood in the cloud of Monarchs with her arms literally cutting through the waves of the jeweled insects above and around her. A photo op if ever there was one!

A few days later, the Swallowtails appeared. These are the mustardy gold butterflies with black tipping on their wings. As if being beautiful weren’t enough, the Swallowtails show off by grouping on a patch of ground, usually a sunny patch of gravel. Once a critical mass forms, the little darlings appear to vibrate in unison. Makes me wonder what’s going on.

Probably innocent enough. But even bugs have their kinky side, I suppose.

On the darker side, literally, we have the creatures of the night; the stunning moths gyrating around every porch light. For sheer over-the-topness, I choose the Cecropia moth--one of the biggies, only with more than size setting it apart from the pack.

This season, I inadvertently trapped a female Cecropia inside a screen window one night. Come morning, the outside of the screen was plastered top to bottom with males, half her size but all aflutter with hormones.

Only the Luna moth outdoes the Cecropia for loveliness. Every year at least one clings to our siding for the night, pausing until the noon sun hits her sea-green wings, allowing admirers to Ohhhh and Ahhhh over her long, droopy teardrop-shape wings.

Green, yellow, orange - it’s like fireworks without the hiss and bang. Tender awe.

Memorable. Even now, weeks later, I can look out on the back lawn, where dandelions are gone to seed and nothing fills the air but raindrops and a clear picture appears: my darling towheaded Janey, pirouetting midst the monarchs.

And while I would like to see only such pleasant scenes out my window, I am sad to report that my groundhogs are still with me. Not only are they tougher to trap than I’ve been told, but they too have been inspired by our early spring. Where there were two, there are now FIVE! And the little ones are even cuter than the parents.

Time to call my neighborhood trapper. Perhaps he can catch and release them where I so pitifully failed.

Other than that, I am in baby bird heaven right now. The turkey poults are a month old and my two are so tame already that they jump out of the brooder to be cuddled.

Add to that joy, I now have two just-hatched Buff goslings that miraculously arrived on the mail truck from Duluth on Wednesday. I give the Post Office mega-high fives for navigating the flooded roads and getting the birds here in time to get the food and water they so desperately need in those first few days. Of course, being geese, they stuck their scrawny little necks out and assumed a don’t-mess-with-me attitude right out of the carton. But after a few nights of watching TV in my lap, I’ll socialize them. With geese, that is even more important than making a dog people-friendly. Geese live 20-plus years.

How’s that for optimism on my part, huh?

Now if only I can train the little buggers to trim around flower beds and fence lines, I’ll be set for the next two decades!

Airdate: July 23, 2012

Canoe Lineup, Gunflint Canoe Races 2012

Wildersmith July 27

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One can hardly believe that by the next time we meet on the radio, July will have been chalked up to the record books. 2012 is flying by out of control everywhere, including here along the Gunflint Trail.

The brunt of the vacation season is upon us up and down the Trail. While the warmth of the summer has a few of us somewhat grouchy, our weather has been a welcome relief for everyone coming into the territory from all places south.

Mother Nature has been yo-yoing around in the past seven days. A couple segments have been downright outstanding for July, but the rest have been a no-fun example of heat and humidity.

Further, she gave us another dose of that “not much rain for now” (about a half inch total for the past week here at Wildersmith). This precipitation neglect has made stepping through the woods on the crispy side.

To make things worse, due to a few spotty summer storms that have cropped up, lightning has set off several fire episodes, creating some smoky conditions here in the upper Trail reaches.

Last Saturday morning folks along Gunflint Lake awoke to smoky smells and skies. We were finally brought up to speed that there was fire in Manitoba as well as a few lightning-ignited spots around Ely and near the Pagami Creek inferno of last summer.

Winds eventually swept the unwelcome memories of fire away, and we breathed a sigh of relief. Yet we know all too well that we’re never completely out of danger as long as there are people, lightning and tinder dry elements that can combine to change things in a hurry. Thanks again to the firefighting folks who jumped on these hot spots before they could become a major problem!

We all must be extremely careful since there seems to be an unwillingness to invoke burning bans. So much for all the science on the issue of fire danger; it’s d-r-y, dry out here.

The annual Gunflint Trail canoe races are history for 2012. Huge thanks go out to the Jamiesons (Margit & Jim) and nearly 100 or so volunteers that worked to make it happen. A final tally of the resources raised for the Trail Fire and Rescue Departments showed that their coffers were increased by approximately $14,500.

In so doing the Gunflint community had a swell evening of fun on an absolutely splendid northwoods evening. The grand prize drawing found Karen Reilly of Rochester, Minn., taking home the Spirit II Wenonah Canoe.

I recently heard of a security breach at a residence up near the end of the trail. It turns out that there was some peculiar breaking and entering. The residents came home to find screens damaged on their porch and that someone had done some rummaging around in the enclosure, but nothing seemed to be missing.

Screens were patched, but no sooner was this done than a second illegal entry happened, and this time the culprits were caught. A surveillance set-up eventually found the intruders to be hungry flying squirrels that gnawed their way inside.

The curious nocturnal beings were easily deterred after determining who they were by simply closing the windows, although I’m sure that with this steamy weather, it has not been the most comfortable solution.

Meanwhile, I had a similar experience when a chipmunk came into my wood shop through an open door and apparently did not get out before the opening closed. I came in a day or so later to find that the panicked mini-rodent had scampered in a hundred different directions knocking items off windowsills and walls, generally kind of ransacking the place, while seeking an escape route.

I never did find it in the facility and never observed the critter departing as I made my first re-entry. After a few days, though, the old whiff, whiff method led me to its final demise. I’m surely the one to blame on this one!

Keep on hangin’ on and savor a cool cruise on a lake in Gunflint territory!

Airdate: July 27, 2012

Photo by Carl Hansen

West End News: July 26

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Mother Nature delivered some very entertaining shows this week. The northern lights have made several appearances and a couple of times were nothing short of spectacular. There have been some amazing thunderheads drifting around the area too. I was at Moguls Grill and Tap Room in Lutsen this week when a spectacular thunderhead developed out over Lake Superior at Tofte. From Moguls' mountain vantage point, the towering storm was magnificently lit by the setting sun. As if that wasn't enough, huge webs of lightning played over and through the clouds. For more than an hour, a large group of people sat outside, oohing, aahing and applauding, as if they were at a light show or fireworks display. In between all this, blue skies and warm temperatures have put everyone in a sunny summer state of mind.

In addition to the natural light shows, here at Sawbill we were treated to an impromptu show by two canoeists who are professional fire performers. Eddy Wilbers and Star Williams, both from Minneapolis, make a good part of their living by twirling and juggling burning objects while dancing and doing acrobatics. The night before they started their wilderness canoe trip, they offered the Sawbill crew a short sample of their skills around the campfire with the stars shining overhead. We all sat open-mouthed and amazed as they juggled burning objects and set their own bodies on fire, including spewing great long flaming jets from their mouths. Lest that makes them sound reckless, let me assure you that they take safety very seriously. Eddy did say that he does get burned sometimes, but only small blisters that heal in a day or two.

Congratulations to some folks with West End connections who won the Lake Superior Binational Program’s ninth annual Environmental Stewardship Award. Lise Abazs, Jan Karon, and Mary Doch accepted the award on behalf of WaterLegacy, a grassroots non-profit that has as its mission protecting Minnesota's water resources from environmental degradation and supporting the human and ecological communities that depend on clean water for their well being. They are, of course, particularly concerned with the new mining proposals in northeastern Minnesota, that want to mine precious metals from ore that contains sulfides. Similar mines have led to disastrous pollution all around the world. You can learn more about their work at

My life and business partner, Cindy Hansen, just returned from her annual canoe trip with some other lovely ladies from Lutsen and Tofte. This year, they chose to paddle the international border from Moose Lake in Ely to Saganaga Lake at the end of the Gunflint Trail. On one lake, they spotted an eagle in the distance that was flying short gliding circuits from a tree on the shore. When they got closer, they realized that it was an adult eagle demonstrating beginning flight techniques to a fledgling chick. The chick was protesting and copping an attitude like all teenagers do from time to time. As they watched, though, the chick took the plunge and unsteadily glided out over the lake and back to the tree. The parent flew alongside and chirped encouragement to the youngster. All the ladies on the trip are moms who have seen their own chicks leave the nest, so they could all relate to the tender and terrifying scene that they had the privilege to witness.

Peter Harris, who lives in Little Marais and has worked at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center for many years, told me that Wolf Ridge is celebrating its 40th birthday this year. There will be a celebration in Duluth on September 28 that will, among other things, feature founder Jack Picotta and the stories he has about the early years. They will also be holding a staff reunion on September 29 and 30 this year. Peter asked me to announce the dates in the hope that any former staff who listen to this program will mark their calendars and plan to attend. There are quite a few former Wolf Ridge staff that have settled in the area and the reunion should be great fun for them. I've played my guitar at quite a few square dances at Wolf Ridge over the years, but I don't think it qualifies me as a staff member.

I can't believe that I missed the West End Garden Show that was held last week. My dad, who used to do this commentary and the weekly newspaper column for years before that, never missed announcing the annual garden show and reporting on the activities. By all accounts, it was another successful year for the show and I am resolved to cover it thoroughly next year.

Speaking of flowers, the Schroeder community, under the capable leadership of Jim Norvel, and with many other volunteers, has done a major renovation of the Father Baraga's Cross memorial. On Saturday, July 28, starting at 9 am, volunteers are needed to place the plantings that are the finishing touch on the renovation. Lunch will be provided. Call Jim at 663-7838 for details.

Lake Superior Ice (Andy Tinkham/Flickr)

Moments in Time: Winter Ice

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Art Fenstad is a descendant of a North Shore fishing family. A lot has changed since Art's ancestors immigrated here in the late 1800s. One thing that's very different these days is the weather here on the shore. Art's family kept detailed records, and winter here used to be much more severe.

A photo of Milt Powell

Anishinaabe Way: Milt Powell

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This segment of WTIP's ongoing series "Anishinaabe Way: Lives, Words, and Stories of Ojibwe People" features Milt Powell of the Saganaga Lake Powell family.

WTIP independent producer Staci Drouillard sat down with Milt and his wife Alice last fall. He shares stories about growing up on Saganaga Lake and about his "Grandmother,"  a great Aunt who lived with his family when he was a young child.  Milt will celebrate his 80th birthday this coming September.