Harry Drabik


Content By This Contributor:

Fri. Feb. 22nd, 2013

New forms of winter fun

Harry Drabik

When I was younger (a time that now seems as far removed from present reality and recollection as racial memory) I believed that if faced with a terminal illness, I’d confidently take matters in

Sat. Feb. 16th, 2013

Multi in vitamins and cultures

Harry Drabik

I know a few people who react to the term “multicultural” as if a rocket launched. They soar off exploding over the “destruction” of American culture by outside interests or forces. Versions of this feeling have been tumbling about near long as I have political recollection. Generations far past, the fire was ov

Mon. Feb. 11th, 2013

Things that were

Harry Drabik

I’ve said before: I live in what remains of what I’d call “the real North Shore.” Out on our limb near the border, we are sometimes smiled or laughed at for being so behind the times and out of synch. Indeed we are, but there is a certain compensation (shall I say

Thu. Jan. 31st, 2013

Crossing the line

Harry Drabik

Living where I do, crossing the border to Canada has been a common event. Sorry, Duluth-Superior, but it’s over two hours each way to you and an hour to Thunder Bay. More often than not, th

Fri. Jan. 25th, 2013

Sack Cloth and Ashes

Harry Drabik

I’m not positive the origin of the expression, but for some this is a time of mourning in true sack cloth, ashes fashion. (I think the ancient Romans dumped ash on themselves as a symbolic gesture. I doubt doing so was symbolic of good times and merriment.) For som

Fri. Jan. 11th, 2013

Elephant with Mismatched Ears

Harry Drabik

Stirred by chance, recollections of childhood rise with sudden vividness. The color-swirl of a long skirt, buzz-whirr of a playing card against bicycle spokes, or the oily smell and pump-hiss of an air rifle hold bytes of memory. For me the words “Red Ryder” bring an image of being dressed in clean white shirt and bow tie for family Sunday visits to my grandparents’ high-ceilinged ho

Fri. Jan. 4th, 2013

Bambi’s Revenge

Harry Drabik

No, this piece is not about the gal you may remember named Bambi found hiding out in Thunder Bay some years ago, or a vengeful hooker of my acquaintance. My life is not that colorful. I get no more exciting than an ongoing tiff with the four-legged members of the Cervidae, Odocoileus virginianus. It’s a lot easier to c

Thu. Dec. 13th, 2012

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, so don’t muck it up

Harry Drabik

I went to a Christmas concert last night. There is a decades-long tradition of performing parts of the Messiah as part of holiday celebrations. The performance was ecumenical, or at least non-denominational, though it took place at the Lutheran church. In the past, certain types of religious observances often to

Fri. Dec. 7th, 2012


Harry Drabik

I didn’t start out with collecting in mind, but after six years as a Scout and more afterward at summer camps, I had enough “stuff” to form a collection. Somewhere (I think well past a decade) in time I began actively adding to the stuff in addition to accumulating this

Mon. Nov. 26th, 2012

How I became a guide

Harry Drabik

We moved to the North Shore when I was twelve, recently shot up in height to look Mother in the eye. She didn’t like that, and in case increased size would make me truculent, she went to greater pains to keep me in my place. I was used to it, and besides, there wasn’t a

Fri. Nov. 16th, 2012

Home to roost

Harry Drabik

I’ve frequently used the local post office as a focus for articles because it is ground both public and common. We mail a couple of letters, find out how a neighbor’s illness is progressing, and bump into someone we don’t see often. A rural

Mon. Nov. 12th, 2012

The Death Of Bambi

Harry Drabik

The slow-coming arrival of winter cheers those looking forward to use of their snow machines, skiing, ice fishing, etc. Spring is a favored time by others as long-awaited relief from shoveling snow and hard frozen ground. Summer has many admirers looking to spend the l

Fri. Nov. 2nd, 2012

Bare Naked Sex

Harry Drabik

It’s important for a writer to grab the reader’s attention. So, how did I do? I hope okay. Also important is honesty. So I may as well get to that right off and admit I don’t have anything of special value to say about sex. I’m old enough that most of what I did know is bogged way back in memory. I kn

Fri. Oct. 26th, 2012


Harry Drabik

It’s a long while since I was allowed the pleasure of annoying students with lessons they didn’t desire to learn. I thought part of a teacher’s obligation was to get them beyond their present into a place with a little more challenge and

Fri. Oct. 19th, 2012

Happy Birthday Bungee

Harry Drabik

Neither planned nor expected: I’m helping celebrate a lowly bungee’s 32nd birthday. Its age is not precisely known. At a minimum 32 because it’s that long since I stopped use of the canoe carrier where I bent the S hooks to a 90. A middle-aged bungee may not seem much cause for celebration, but compared to its kin expiring in their childhoo

Fri. Oct. 12th, 2012

It’s Emotional

Harry Drabik

Autumn is my emotional season. I could credit the environment with human passions, but I dislike anthropomorphism toward nature as much as I detest when the habit lumbers us with thinking dogs and talking mice. This isn’t to say the fall season lacks emotion-p

Fri. Oct. 5th, 2012

2 A 4 M

Harry Drabik

Postal and religious killers are less entertaining. Both go for numbers and old scores, though postal death dealing favors self-justice in evening scores and takes that as its highest aim. To my mind, this explains the tendency toward aimed-high head shots. The modified AR 15 and 2,

Fri. Sep. 28th, 2012

Stained red bellows

Harry Drabik

The first hints of autumn in the air sharpen up the political season from muggy to crisp. How nice when it will be over and we’ll be able to enjoy a lull before the turmoil of political life begins to build like social magma under a non-dormant volcano. The title above comes fro

Fri. Sep. 21st, 2012

Our Light?

Harry Drabik

For over a hundred years there has been a light marking the east side of the Grand Marais harbor entry. The first houses to hold these lights above the water were sturdy wooden towers built in the days of the Lighthouse and Rescue Servic

Fri. Sep. 7th, 2012

Holier than I am

Harry Drabik

The season changing to autumn has long been my emotional and reflective season, not that any reflection off my side is likely to blind anyone with illumination. Coolness in the air and the de-greening of foliage are visible signs of time passing in the block form of the season

Fri. Aug. 24th, 2012

Polly Ticks

Harry Drabik

I was tired of it quite a while ago, but it’s going to go on (only getting worse) until the November elections, when discord takes a ten-second intermission before the workup for the next round of cacophony. (How wonderfully apt that caca and phony unite politically.)

Thu. Aug. 16th, 2012

The end of the free lunch

Harry Drabik

It’s said age turns people conservative. The young firebrand becomes the gloomy clinker. The majority of those unfortunates calling me friend lean distinctly in the direction of advancing age and increasing conservatism. Some acquaintances come across far right of the Great Khan and would rule by sword and decree. One has to tolerate much in friends, my case especially, because I

Fri. Aug. 3rd, 2012

Abject Apology

Harry Drabik

I’m afraid I too highly sang the praises of the carrot last week. I stand corrected and rebuked. The carrot has less high favor than I wrote. First there are those who dislike its sugar content, but the poor carrot also fits into that group of vegies some see as not-so-innocent. It’s the shape, you see. Leading the objectionable shape category is the banana, objection to it and similar shapes being of a religious nature based on the finding that cert

Fri. Jul. 27th, 2012

Arty Artful Artiness

Harry Drabik

Honoring tourists and tourism, those great gods of eat, drink, and commerce, the North Shore indulges in serried waves of butt-lifting obeisance to that which does make us wealthy along with popular and silly looking. In addition to a gallery here and a galleria there, we sally out a regular flow of art fairs, festivals, and celebrations

Fri. Jul. 20th, 2012

And for the defense

Harry Drabik

One of the trickier parts of life in a collection of compacted communities is jury duty. Jurors are almost bound to know something of the parties involved. We are not blank slates. When called, you do your best to be impartial. You suspend ju

Fri. Jul. 13th, 2012

Just one little thing

Harry Drabik

Here it is near the middle of July already. It’s almost time to start looking in the closet for the winter clothes, except that here in Minnesota we really never put them away as my family did back in our Illinois days, when winter arrived December 20 and was long gone by balmy Easter Sunday. The climate near the

Fri. Jul. 6th, 2012

Political Religion

Harry Drabik

As I’ve mined my 50th high school reunion these past weeks I’ve been advised (a tactful word) to do a follow-up. Well I have to say the 50th for what was formerly Aurora-Hoyt Lakes High School was fairly well attended. Roughly half the 100 graduates made it. Seventeen of us having been embarked on the permanent rolls of the deceased did not attend. Those absent were no less present

Thu. Jun. 28th, 2012

Things I’ve learned

Harry Drabik

Not long after my adult life on the North Shore began, I needed excavation work done around the cabin. I made a list, drew sketches, and worked out all the important details in my head. I was abundantly prepared to have the project done. When the contractor arrived, I was in fine form, explaining just ex

Fri. Jun. 22nd, 2012


Harry Drabik

There’s no escape. The pending 50th A-HL high school reunion has embedded deep and dark in the brain cavern. I think it’s the number. Fifty is too big, like having to pay fifty for a gallon of gas. It’s not right, plus I’ve never much liked numbers. A long line of dead math teachers would bear witness. An open book of arithmetic before me had the effect of hypnosis. I saw, heard, and

Fri. Jun. 15th, 2012

Counting To Fifty

Harry Drabik

After the past rainy weeks, the grass took off. As you know, for unpaid entertainment few things surpass the fun of mowing long wet grass, but the plains of Hovland had to fall and the only way was via the pains of Harry. I don’t like mowing. I detest it; have ever since I was thirteen, when Mom and Dad set eyes upon the prize of best lawn and realized they had a slave to accomplish the goal. The initial fun was

Mon. Jun. 11th, 2012

My Happiness

Harry Drabik

I stood before the microwave the other day when a bolt hit, stopping me dead as a frozen fish stick, which as you know is the very sign and signal of the grimmest reaper on the planet. From fish stick death there is no return. Frozen fish is so far from life it reaches extraterrestrial alien status. With fish sticks I have no quarrel, other than avoiding them and feeling sorry for them in their little cardboard coffins in the freezer section. The decent thing would be a deep hole and a tasteful service; taste being otherwise denied said frozen fish except for salt making them salty.

Thu. May. 24th, 2012

Let Me Offend You

Harry Drabik

There’s a Sam Clemens story titled “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg.” Hadleyburg is a pious town with a high moral tone the townsfolk insist on rigidly enforcing. Their piety is so extreme and unthinking it becomes itself a corruption in need of major reform. I won’t go over-long on the details, but the corrup

Fri. May. 18th, 2012


Harry Drabik

The sun came out the other day. I quickly took advantage to go outdoors to check the yard without having to wear a headlamp or carry a flashlight. Work in the garden is more cumbersome when lighting is needed. I hardly got moving toward the side yard when I spotted an invader. Gads, seems early this

Fri. May. 11th, 2012

The Jesus Bank

Harry Drabik

I almost forgot a curious thing connected to our family move to the North Shore (apparently with a plan of going broke in record time) when I was twelve. An odd age, twelve: I’ll characterize it as late-stage infancy with adult pretensions. In the foggy dew of my youth, I was ignorantly unaware of the sublime idiocy of my very able tool-and-die-maker father migrating to a place where

Fri. May. 4th, 2012

It’s one or the other

Harry Drabik

I talked last week with a couple interested in moving up the shore for retirement. Comparing it to their urban area, they asked how newcomers fared along the clearly more homogenous North Shore. I said (and it is true) our little shore communities are uniformly friendly. Then without further thought (a well-documented problem) I added, “But remember, if not born here you’ll always be an outsider, possibly socialist.” They laughed. My com

Fri. Apr. 27th, 2012

Curious indigestions of spring

Harry Drabik

I had business up the Trail last week. It was a beautiful day when I left home along the shore. The sun was bright on the big lake. An hour drive made a difference. The sky clouded over like a layer of greasy wax paper. In the space of a mile, the outside temp fell from 34 to 26 as I drove into a snow squall with all the entertainment of trying to navigate inside a feather-filled pillow. It wasn’t

Thu. Apr. 12th, 2012

Minnesota Nice

Harry Drabik

The Northland shares the “nice” tradition, a reputation to be proud of. When I think of the unconscious discrimination and stereotyping present when I grew up, it’s hardly asking too much to exercise some self-restraint. On the other side, there are those who see “nice” as objectionable. To them, the habit dangerously intrudes political correctness into free speech. There’s merit there, too, because free speech is nothing to take lightly or for granted. Indeed, there are risks in being too nice or overly correct, if in so doing one becomes either doormat or an enabler. The individual must retain the right not to be nice for use as needed.

Thu. Apr. 5th, 2012

Going, going, gone

Harry Drabik

The other day outside a convenience store, I ran into a neighbor I hadn’t seen in a while. I stopped to say hi and otherwise pretend I was a decently sociable human being. If you recall last week, there were some windy and chilly days. Well, it’s north shore in spring, so wind and cold are the norm. I recall one May wearing a parka and choppers to water my new grass (lawn). It was like that outside the store talking to someone buffered from t

Thu. Mar. 29th, 2012

It’s more than a word

Harry Drabik

We live where it’s sometimes hard to know what to call the time of year. Is it spring? Or are we better off saying mud time or pre-bug season? Our end of winter isn’t like the sunny Easter to the south, but then ours comes minus tornados, so I’m not complaining. Northland spring is a multi-word affair. I’d vote for “ice-out, frost on the ground, too soon to plant, fire at night, bumpy road, no bugs time of year.

Thu. Mar. 22nd, 2012


Harry Drabik

I was asked recently about an article. The question: Was I beating war drums? Well no, I wasn’t, but in 1,000 words (plus my ability to muddle) a single clear theme might get lost in the shuffle. Nonetheless, I take responsibility for what I attempted in the spirit in which I attempted it. Sorry my intent wa

Thu. Mar. 1st, 2012

Burnt to the Ground

Harry Drabik

No, the title isn’t world news. Inside while snow flew, I remembered an incident when I was six. Mother going to lie down with a headache (I’m sure it had nothing to do with me) presented a perfect opportunity for a camping adventure...

Fri. Feb. 17th, 2012


Harry Drabik

Some don’t recall it, while others don’t wish to acknowledge how at one time public education was a model for American values and progress. Most parents, if it was within their reach, wanted better for their children. Before “public” education was available, the likely ways to do this were by signing a child (sometimes for a fee) to indentured service (free labor) so he (in general only males were educated) could learn skills, to a guild (much the same as indenture), or a favored few (in part due to limited capacity) were allowed entry to a church school where a boy learned to copy, sing, and do menial work. The poor and their children had little opportunity to move above their station in life. Many children learned skills strictly from work with their parents or in their community, the majority of whose members were illiterate. The Protestant Reformation with its emphasis on individuals reading the Bible in their own tongue caused many parishes to provide limited education, primarily in reading, often excluding fem

Thu. Feb. 2nd, 2012

Stokers and other things lost

Harry Drabik

As a kid in Chicago I remember our basement holding an item that was my father’s pride and joy. (It seemed to rival me in his affection, so I remember it very well.) That item, kept gleaming clean despite ...

Thu. Jan. 26th, 2012

Tough Sledding

Harry Drabik

Thinking about the forthcoming John Beargrease Race, I was reminded of an old friend who in melodic Swedish voice used to say, “We’ve got two seasons: winter and a couple months of tough sledding.” He’s gone ...

Fri. Dec. 30th, 2011

Will it be a Happy New Year?

Harry Drabik

If the Maya are correct we are in for big a bad time, as in an End-of-the-World style trouble. Well, it is possible, though in my view you’d need to push the notion of possible very far ...

Fri. Dec. 23rd, 2011

Christmas Presents

Harry Drabik

I don’t have my outdoor lights up. A few years I missed getting them out completely. It depends on the weather and what comes up. I’m not too concerned though. As a kid I more than made up for any seasonal deficiencies now ...

Fri. Dec. 2nd, 2011

Old Dishes

Harry Drabik

Over Thanksgiving while looking for a serving bowl I found a stray cup, the sort of thing most would rightly discard. Even in a second hand store how much value is found in one old cup?

Fri. Nov. 18th, 2011

Politics at daddy’s knee.

Harry Drabik

I learned what I’d call a form of “hard knocks” politics from my father. In his mind and words my dad was absolutely a staunch conservative who knew what was right and would not back down. He was adamant about that.

Fri. Nov. 11th, 2011

Lazy Bums

Harry Drabik

This time of year my local Post Office falls short on providing source material because with chill winds blowing and chores to get done between rain showers and before the snow flies we don’t linger as much to chew into mulch whatever it is ...

Fri. Nov. 4th, 2011

It’s easy to forget

Harry Drabik

It’s easy to lose sight of how fortunate we are to live where we do. The approach of winter (we can’t stop its arrival) causes a certain amount of “it’s coming to get us” anxiety, but we pull ourselves together and soldier on knowing there’s ...