Minnesota Memories, Part 5

A Pilgrimage To Cass Lake, Bemidji & Lake Itasca

June 27 30, 2000


By Lewis Nolan


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Speedy Links to Trip Segments:


Part 1: Memphis to Minneapolis

Part 2: Minneapolis to Cass Lake

Part 3: Cass Lake

Part 4: Bemidji and Lake Itasca

Part 5: Cass Lake to Memphis

Photo Album


Friday, June 30, 2000 To Minneapolis and Memphis


We were up at 4 a.m. and on the road by 5 a.m. for the five-hour drive to Minneapolis and our flight home.

We took an alternate route suggested by Jim Connor to avoid the detours and road construction that
Betty, Jim, Carol at Bemidji
Click Here to Enlarge Pic
delayed us on the way up. We drove south on Highway 10 and found it to be a more scenic and easier drive because it was mostly four lanes. We passed through St. Cloud, another location the Connors are considering for retirement. The only difficulty we encountered was finding the right beltway exit in Minneapolis to get to the airport. The sun was shining and the temperature was in the low 80s when we arrived.

Our connecting flight through Atlanta was on time and we made it home at 5:42 p.m. It turned out that the several rolls of film Betty took produced some terrific photos, which we shared with Mary Nolan Ballard.

I greatly enjoyed the trip to Cass Lake and learned a lot about the harsh environment where my grandparents made their home and raised their children. I think I understand
Lewis, Betty at Nolan graves
Click Here to Enlarge Pic
why my father and Uncle Don got out of Cass Lake as soon as they could. With the only Nolans still there in the graveyard and no further pull to attract me back, I doubt that I will pass that way again.


- Lewis Earle "Buzz" Nolan, Nov. 30, 2000


We invited Jim and Carol to visit us in Memphis. I also asked Jim to review a draft of the preceding journal before I shared it with other members of the Nolan and Miller families. He wrote the following Jan. 29, 2001:



Hard to say when computer school ends - when I get rested enough to start again, I suppose. The earliest it would be is August 5. Maybe fall? I will get in touch when my plans are more firm.


You are probably right about Tom. I have a soft part in my heart for old drunks, bums and rascals.


Please find enclosed a poem I wrote, inspired by the Cass Lake trip and Grandfather Nolan's poem, "Are You A Nature Lover?" Poems, love of liquor, love of writing runs in the blood, I guess,


Regards, Jim

The Pine Grove


Fragrant Norway Pines

fill the northern air

A grandfather of mine

Planted pine cones there


In nineteen thirty-nine

He planted pine cones where

Life's only sign

was earth and air


Six years then passed

grandfather had died

but the pine cones he cast

had lived and multiplied

Sixty years passed

His grandsons came

where the pinecones were cast

in Lewis Nolan's name.


Roots from the past

are in that grove

something to last

his spirit wove


I never did see

grandfather's face

but the pinetrees'

scent I now embrace


Poem from the past

A scent of pine

something to last

the test of time


A poet once wrote

with pinecones there

his spirit floats

in the pine air.


A scent of pines

a scent of earth

now form these lines

of living verse


Rest in peace now

grandfather of mine

but show nature how

to write a line


James Lewis Connor

a nature lover


The earlier poem that Jim referred to was written by our grandfather long ago and seemed to speak to us of his inner being. It was one of the poems so elegantly read by Jim over L.E. and Bertha Nolan's graves during our simple observation of the 100th year of their wedding ceremony. I have a framed copy of it on a wall near by desk at home.


Are You A Nature Lover?


By L.E. Nolan

Are you a Nature lover,

Have you watched the songbirds hover,

In the treetops warbling sweetes praise?

Have you photo'ed Autumn's shading

When the twilight's shades were shading

When the western sky seemed all ablaze?


When with Nature you're communing

Have you listened to the crooning

Of the pine trees, sweet and low,

Have you sat by a camp fire smoking,

The world forgetting, talking, joking?

If you have you'll understand you'll know!


Of the pine trees, sweet and low,

Why outdoor life is so striking

When along the winding trails you're hiking

Breathing in the fragrance of the air,

You'll understand that feeling

That comes over you a-stealing

You're richer than a multimillionaire.


And when luncheon you're preparing

After giving your soul an airing

Watching dream ships harbor, on the distant shore

Then, in dream you'll sit and wonder

Why! of life you've made a blunder?

Why you hadn't been a vagabond, before.


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