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Pathways Through Our Past

What a wonderful, sunny Valentine's Day and topping it off at Hillcrest with a luscious, mouthwatering meal of steak, shrimp and lobster was pretty wonderful too. The dessert was not only tasty; it was as beautiful as any valentine! The Valentine's Day drawing at the Blackduck History and Art Center was pretty special also, for a few Sweethearts.

Winners were: Jody Mayer - Hillcrest $50 gift certificate, Jim Wolden - Gorman's Stained Glass window ornament, Nancy Salminen - A Gilmore framed picture, Helen Lahr - Northwoods Lumber Storage Box filled with Bird things, Ray Klug - Consignment Outlet -place mats, Leona Geerdes -Blackduck Floral $20 Gift Certificate, Betty Frenzel - BFF Fruit and Wine basket, Wendy Eisenrich - Blackduck History Center's Centennial Book, Judy Gorman - Northlander Gifts Bracelet, Judy Hurlburt - Beck's $25 Gas Card, Barb Sunell - Moon's Ben Franklin Candy and Mickey Witt -Country Side Pizza and Pop.

Hope everyone received a smoochy valentine kiss from their Sweetheart! This annual event is successful because of the generosity of Blackduck's businesses and those sweethearts that bought our tickets again this year. Thank you all.

Pioneer lumberjack, Martin Stene and his wife Violet, long-time residents of the area, lived out their last years at Northern Pines Good Samaritan Center in Blackduck. Martin was born in Hornet Township in 1908 to Caroline and Olaf Stene who were among the first settlers there in 1900. He was one of six children.

He was an avid storyteller and many friends remember sitting for hours listening to his stories of the old days of hunting and fishing in the area and the many experiences he had while growing up among the neighborhood families.

When his folks came here, they built a house on the old homestead in Hornet where they always lived. Stene attended the Winan School until he was 14 and then joined the other men folk doing the farm work and working in the woods. "Everything was done with horses in the old days." Martin wasn't very big when they moved the old Trudeau house, but remembered when all the neighbors came over to help build onto it. "They helped them build a barn too and all the ladies came and fixed lunch for the crew. Everybody always helped each other out with things like that." Martin recalled some of the neighborhood dances and parties held in each other's home. "People were closer in those days, not like it is now," he noted.

Hunting was one of this pioneer's favorite topics of conversation. "The neighborhood boys would all get together and start out on a drive," he said. "We kept on until we all got our deer, but nothing was ever wasted. A lot of people had to live on venison."'

Stene worked in the early logging camps. There were lots of camps around in those days and one of them was just about a half mile north of the home where he lived. He also worked at many jobs around the countryside and in town. In 1929 he went to work for Charlie Trondsen on the ice truck and ran the ice route in Blackduck until 1934. "We used to haul the big hunks of ice up the chute into the ice house with the horses," he remembered. "I had about 60 customers in town besides the business places." Stene was a familiar sight in town delivering from 60 to 120 pounds of ice to each home about three times a week and oftener in the summer. "It was really hard work, chiseling those big blocks of ice out of the lake, " he said.

He met his future wife, Viola Dexter, when they both worked for Trondsen's and were married in 1934. He started working for Doc Farrington that spring, working on the farm and cabins at his place on Blackduck Lake as a carpenter and general handyman. Later, he worked atFarrington's Laundromat in Bemidji because they didn't run the resort during the war.

In 1959, he and his wife moved to Blackduck. They bought a place from Perrie Parker and Martin started working for Bob Palmer in the tree nursery business, working there until his retirement in 1982.

Stene loved people and had a host of friends. He and his wife loved to garden and always had a huge one. In later years, he became ill with emphysema which kept him idle for the last years of his life, though they were able to celebrate their 50thwedding anniversary in 1984. Martin was one of the last original residents born in Hornet Township and had never moved far from the old homestead. He always had a good word for his fellow men and with his ready smile, his sense of humor and Scandinavian accent, he was fun to be around.

The History and Art Center opened Feb. 2 after being closed the month of January. We've made a few changes and are working at identifying and displaying more pictures. This is a fun project and we hope that some of you will come in to help us and maybe even become volunteers.