Chisholm Beautification

Send us some of your favorite memories of Chisholm and we will post them here.
I Survived the Chisholm Fire!

This beautiful covered bowl
 was discovered by a long-time Chisholm resident.  It survived 
the big Chisholm fire and was
 later cleaned up and is on 
display in their home.
If you recognize the picture below, tell us about it in the guestbook.

Dr. A. W. Graham

November 10, 1879 - August 25, 1965

Da Range 

Sarmas, Ravioli and Lutefisk
Some Iron Range names are not the easiest to pronounce - they have Zʼs and Vʼs and
Jʼs in places that make nonrangers stop cold when speaking them. Two friends of mine
from Nashwauk, Joe and John Drazenovich, would tell a story about when they were in
the Army. When it came time for roll call the sergeant could not pronounce their name,
so he would shout out “ALPHABET” and they had to answer “HERE SERGEANT”. They
were in different outfits at different times and the result was the same, “ALPHABET”. It
was that Z that always trip them up. Even though some of the names were difficult to
pronounce it didnʼt matter to us, because when we were growing up we used
nicknames. Some of those nicknames stayed with us all of our lives. Names like Savo,
Bobo, Monk, Toivo, Finn, Irish, Torp, Hooner and Booker.

The Iron Range is truly a melting pot in every sense of the word. We grew up with
children of many diverse cultures and we took many of their customs and melded them
into our own unique Iron Range culture. We were all accepting and all embracing of our
classmates and neighbors and their ways no matter how different from our own. We just
accepted them the way they were. It did not matter if you were Croatian, Finn,
Slovenian, Italian, Serbian, or whatever, you became our second family. We ate sarmas,
ravioli, potica, spaghetti and yes even lutefisk at their homes. We did not know about
ethnic food, it was just something the neighbors had for dinner. We attended Kaleva
camp and dated, took saunas, and married, although not in that order. Some would say
we even took on some of our neighbors accents. When I was stationed in Fort Knox
some of my Iron Range buddies would stop by for a visit. We would be sitting around
talking and telling stories when guys in the barracks would interrupt us with the
question. “Where the heck are you guys from?” or “You guys sure talk funny”. They did
not know what we were talking about, What is a Sarma? or Potica?. We would tell them
itʼs a little bit of heaven. They thought Lutefisk was a musical instrument, like a flute.

Ethnic Diversity is truly a gift from above. Our relatives came from all over Europe to this

strip of iron ore in Northern Minnesota, hoping to make a better living for their families
and we mixed pretty darn well. No wars and lots of marriages. That seems to be the
answer.The following are a few examples of the mixing of cultures that have stayed with me
through the years.

I remember a Christmas Eve Dinner we had with the Arola Family in Nashwauk. Fannie

Arola made lutefisk and my Mother brought over Ravioli. It was on a Friday and in those
days Catholics could not eat meat on Fridays so we had to sit and watch the Arolaʼs eat
the Ravioliʼs and we had to eat the lutefisk. But you know, it wasnʼt all that bad. In fact it
was good and the company was excellent.

One summer day I was painting the front porch of the house when I heard two men

walking down the street talking. They were each talking in a different language. I looked
up and saw John Koski speaking in Finn to Cosmo Fragnito who was speaking in
Italian. That blew my mind. Each seemed happy and content in his own language and
unconcerned that the other could not understand a word he was saying. I thought, this
must be an Iron Range Moment. Where else on earth would this happen. John was the
janitor at the grade school and Cosmo was the sexton at my Church, and that was
about all they had in common. Oh, they were also emigrants and Iron Rangers although
they probably never thought of themselves as such.

For some, being an emigrant was something to be proud of and to others it was

something to be hidden away. Those that were proud of their roots taught their children
the customs of their homeland, such as the family recipes that were handed down from
generation to generation or the traditional folk dances we would see at weddings. Some
taught their children the precious gift of the language of their ancestors. When I was in
grade school we had a few children in our class that could not speak English though
they were born in Minnesota. The Finnish people are to be commended for keeping the
Finnish language alive through three generations of Americans. When I was growing up
in Nashwauk we lived next door to Nester Kari on one side and Nester Kivi on the other,
and on the corner lived John Koski. With neighbors like that we learned a little Finn
through osmosis. Words like puukko, hauki, yksi, kaksi, kolme, nelja, paha poika, were
used quite often among us kids. (knife, pike, one, two, three, four, bad boy). Also pasca
housut was always a good one when we were mad. We had a little fun with mixing of
the names. I had a girlfriend whoʼs fatherʼs name was Sulo. I would tell her if we married
we would name our first boy after her father. Sulo Schullo. A boy in our class liked a
certain girl who spoke Finn very well. We told him to tell her “Haluan suudella”. He did
and came back with half a red face. “What did I say?” he asked, holding his cheek. You
said ”I would like to kiss”.

So Iron Rangers, keep up the cultural tieʼs to your ancestors and remember the way we
are did not originate here, it originated far away in places like Iska Vas, Vaasan laani,
Stari Bar and Ateleta.


Jim Schullo


Some thoughts

submitted by Jimmy Vitali from his book, "Jimmy V"

I couldn't help but think about some history when I saw the beautiful 
pictures of the fountain in the CBA's remarkable website.  The following
is taken from my book:  "Jimmy V":
"We did a lot for the community while in the Jaycees and there were many members. 
One thing I remember was the construction and operation of the colored water fountain
 on the island on the north end of Longyear Lake in Chisholm. The preliminary work had to
 take place in the winter so we could traverse the lake. The building, which was made out of concrete block,  housed a lot of electrical equipment. It was very expensive and we had to borrow money from the local bank to complete it. In the summer months it was timed to go
 on at dusk and the colored lights rotated to change the color of the spray that streamed
 from the building. It was colorful and nice. People in the community drove by it at night to
 see it operate. Keeping it maintained, however, was a monumental task. The brush and
 grass grew high and thick on the island from the water and often we had to go out in boats
 to clean it up. Once we rented motorized brush cutters from an area rental store and we proceeded to wreck them because of the thickness of the underbrush. There was a lot of damage due to the water and freeze-ups and all, and we were constantly having to do
 some work on it. I am proud to say  that it continues to operate and is under the care of  community volunteers.
In order for us to pay off the loan we bought a small trailer and sold hot dogs, hamburgers, snacks and soft drinks at local athletic events and the county fair. Many times we took
turns working the trailer and we did very well with it. We managed to pay off our debt. Throughout  my membership in this organization I served in all of the offices including President and one year I won the Minnesota Power & Light Private Enterprise Award for being the  outstanding Jaycee of the year. We sort of took turns winning this award annually.   Every year we had a banquet to celebrate our accomplishments, to elect new officers  and to receive awards. We made many friends in the Jaycees, both locally and Range-wide,  and when we later moved to Virginia, Minnesota I had to leave the group.  Names of Jaycee members that I can recall are:  Dick Paradis, Dr. Fred Mast, Ron Gornick, John “Sonny”  Gornick, Terry Scinto, Don Fargen, Larry Dostal, Alan Spector, Gary Van Baak, Joe Holmstrom and others."