Emmaville Store, circa 1969

Friday, December 7, 2012

Waiting for snow and other mysteries

Well, deer season came and went in a flash it seems (check our Facebook page for pictures of this year's trophy bucks), and now it's very, very quiet here in Emmaville. 

How quiet? Yesterday we sold one newspaper and one Mountain Dew in the first three hours we were open.  This time of year is always tough - we are basically on life support until we get some snow and snowmobilers. The ice fishers are just starting to show up - the crazy ones who are willing to go out on a few inches of ice to catch fish. Not enough ice for rest of us chickens just yet.....

So, we wait.  We have lots of time to think.  Normally, we would have barroom philosophers with which to exchange deep thoughts, but, as I said, it's quiet here. 

I've been casting about for something to post here, something to maintain interest.  I came across this piece, contributed by an Emmaville resident who wishes to remain anonymous:

Confessions of a Vikesaholic
I fell off the wagon this season.  I started drinking the purple Kool-Aid again.

I had been clean since 41-Doughnut, in 2001, when their performance against the Kerry Collins version of the NY Giants convinced me to go cold turkey.  I told myself that would be the last time I screamed at the TV on Sunday afternoons.  I had been strong ever since, barely noticing the start of the season each year.  I occasionally checked the standings, but didn't tune in except to watch the AFC and NFC championships and maybe the 1st half of the Super Bowl, when the best commercials were on.  I was safe then, because the Vikings never made it that far in those years.

When Brett Favre donned his Vikings horns, I didn't pay much attention.  I was too busy enjoying the freedom of my Sunday afternoons.  I threw away the foam Viking brick that had ricocheted off the TV so many times my kids instinctively ducked whenever the Vikes turned the ball over. My family felt safe watching TV with me again.   I no longer had a black cloud hovering over me when I went to the office on Monday mornings.

That year, Favre led the Purple all the way to the NFC Championship game.  I happened to be at my Mom and Dad's place that day for a family gathering.  After some initial doubts, I decided I could handle watching the game with my brothers, and settled in.  As the turnovers mounted, and my brothers turned the air blue,  I kept my cool, stayed detached.  Volunteering to go out on the porch and get more cold beers helped.

That was the year the Saints came up with their head-hunting bounty, a cynical response to the NFL's ever-increasing violence.  But I didn't protest much when they dove at Favre's ankles.  I was an old-school Packer hater and never warmed up to the purple version of Favre. When No. 4 threw the inevitable interception that ensured the Vikings' defeat, I actually laughed.  My brothers were crushed and took no comfort from my parting words: "you live with Favre, you die with Favre."  At that moment, I was certain I had successfully taken the cure and was comfortable in admitting that I was a former Vikings fan, now in recovery.

I'm not really certain when the backsliding started.  Maybe it was seeing a replay of an angry Adrian Peterson tossing aside would-be tacklers, a stinging but satisfying first taste after staying dry for so long.  Or maybe it was Percy Harvin, tempting me with a sweet swing pass and run - so smooth.  I couldn't help it if I found myself in some hotel room with SportsCenter on.  How could one witness a Jared Allen calf-roping pantomime and not want to pound on the bar at Appleby's?

Still, it was relatively easy last season to avoid a complete relapse.  A 3-13 record kept alot of the purple jerseys and Brunhilda hats closeted across Vikings territory. I felt some stirrings last spring, having heard that the brain trust in Eden Prairie had conducted a successful draft. It was hard to avoid all the talk: could Ponder be the One?  Adrian looks strong coming off knee surgery....do we finally have a legitimate deep threat with Simpson?  Unfortunately, another dismal Twins season didn't offer enough distraction, and by August, the TC logo was being replaced with the Norseman's visage on hats throughout the North Country.  

I tried to stay focused on the baseball playoffs, but when the Orioles and Nats were defeated, I lost interest.  The Vikes' upset of San Fran in Week 3 drew me in like a bear to honey.  In spite of getting trammeled by RG3 in Week 6, the Vikes were gaining national attention as the surprise team of the NFL. I found myself reading every inch of the positive press they were getting in the Star Trib. 

Week 8. Tampa Bay.  By the end of the 1st quarter, I was pacing. Sometime during the 3rd quarter, I found myself screaming at the TV.  My wife came downstairs to see if I'm ok - did she hear yelling? Busted.

How could I have let this happen?  I should have seen it coming: the Vikes, doing better than anyone expected, get a nationally televised audience and CHOKE.  I've seen this movie before.  I've been seduced by the Purple - again.

I remind myself it's almost over, this season.  I just need to take it one Sunday at a time. Lord, grant me the serenity....



Saturday, October 20, 2012

It's That Time of Year...

It's that time of year - the sun has disappeared behind steel-wool clouds, only a smattering of forlorn leaves remain on the trees and the jack-o-lanterns are popping up: ALMOST DEER SEASON.  The shorter days are getting the bucks and does in the mood, and sending the hunters to their basements to dig out their blaze orange apparel, pocket warmers and that well-worn box of shells they bought at Gambles back in 1981.

They've been showing up around here for a week or two now, coming up to check their stands, clean their shacks, clear trails, etc.  You can tell what they're up to when the pull up with a trailer full of four-wheelers, lumber and ladders and step out of their rigs wearing camo baseball caps, almost giddy.  A few of them come disguised as grouse hunters - any excuse to go out into the woods.  It's the favorite time of year for alot of us Minnesotans.

Of course, the bow hunters have already been out for a couple of weeks.  These folks are really dedicated, spending hours in their stands, moving nothing but their eyeballs.  A lucky few get their deer, but most will trade in their camo for blaze orange and head back into the woods with their rifles come November 3rd.

Bob Hoffman is one of the lucky ones, registering this nice 10-pointer this morning:

That should get the blood flowing. Got your gun sighted in?  See you in a couple of weeks!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Happy Trails...Until We Meet Again

Sunday mornings have grown awfully quiet here of late.  It not just that we've ended the Sunday breakfast buffet for the season. Those crowds get this place buzzing, but not til later in the morning.  Early Sunday mornings are when "the boys" gather for coffee here in the bar.   From May through September, they show up here around 7:30 and spend about an hour alternately ribbing, regaling, congratulating and consoling each other.  They carry on a tradition that goes back to Cal Jensen's day,  when the Greatest Generation guys would gather and assemble the Sunday papers for sale.  Our guys just buy them, already assembled, but I'm guessing the conversations haven't changed that much.

But now they're gone, our summer people. As soon as the leaves started turning, they stowed their boats, buttoned up their cabins, and fled south.  A few stuck around til October, taking in the colors, but eventually they too gave into the urge to follow the sun. These "snowbirds" left behind two or three guys who like to tough it out through the winter. Occasionally, one of them will stop in on an off-season Sunday morning, hoping another will show up, but they don't stay long. It's just not the same.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Well, we survived another hectic summer and are enjoying a bit of a breather. We've been a little too busy to write much - sorry about that. However, part of the blame resides with Google and their quest for world domination. It seems our data is really their data, and we were not able to access this blog until we acknowledged that...
Anyway, thanks to all our customers for making the summer of 2012 a big success. The motel has done especially well, allowing us to afford a new roof, soffits and fascia for it. We are hoping there will be enough left in the piggy bank for new carpet too.
Meanwhile, we're enjoying a warm start to fall. If you're planning a trip up north to see the fall colors, don't wait too long. It's been very dry here, so it's likely to result in a shortened color season.
Bear season is in full swing, but we've only seen a couple of them brought in for registration. Given all the reports of problem bears we heard this spring, the population could probably stand some adjustment. Our neighbors continue in their efforts to bear proof their bird feeders. However, as shown below, they may be fighting a losing battle!
Bow hunting for deer and grouse seasons opened this weekend; no monster bucks to report yet. Hunters are finding a few grouse, although the numbers are down. It's still a bit warm for tromping in the woods, so we've sold alot of liquid refreshments to the folks in camo.

We've also had quite a few musky hunters stumble in after a long day, mumbling about follows. The "Fish of 10,000 Casts" is elusive indeed. It seems the closer they get to landing a big one, the more colorful the stories get. Here's a story from last week with a happy ending:
We have one favor to ask of you: PRAY FOR SNOW! We really could use a good winter after last year's debacle. Hopefully, some of you resisted the temptation to sell your snowmobiles and we'll see you this winter.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Big Day for the Birthday Boy

Last Saturday, about 60 people stopped in to Emmaville to wish Clayton a happy 90th birthday, listen to some music, eat cake and drink beer.  Many more well-wishers stopped by throughout the weekend to greet Clayton at his usual post (2nd stool from right, where he can hear the TV good).  Clayton claims he hasn't been kissed and hugged like that in years.

Clayton's faithful wing man, Kenny T.
Former Emmaville owners, Kay and Joe Knuth
Clayton's cousins from Bemidji.

For those of you who couldn't be there,  you'll be glad to know Clayton is still going strong, still greeting customers, counting papers, making coffee and being generally useful, except when he falls asleep on his bar stool.

We continue to be thankful for having Clayton with us, and were honored to be a part of his special day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

TACO _________ is back!

Tonight, Emmaville is bringing back a customer favorite: TACO ________. Only we can't call it that anymore. We used to be able to call it TACO _________, but we got a letter from Taco John's corporate counsel telling us to cease and desist. Apparently, Taco John has a trademark on TACO _________.

Not wanting to infringe on Mr. John's business, we agreed to change the name TACO ________. We thought about trying "TACO NOT MONDAY" or TACO DAY BEFORE WEDNESDAY", but testing with our focus group indicated this might be confusing to customers.

Our focus group.

So, we finally decided to call it "TUESDAY TACO BUFFET" with the hopes that Mr. John and his counsel will not object.

We hope you will join us every Tuesday night from 5 to 8 pm. But if you end up at Taco John for TACO ________, we'll understand.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Yes, we're still here.

Sorry for the long absence folks.  We've had a pretty tough winter here without snow for snowmobilers.  Last week, the snow finally came in sufficient amounts and on Saturday, 99% of all Minnesota snowmobilers came to Emmaville! Ok, not really, but it sure seemed like it.  We had a lot of fun and had our best numbers since the deer hunting opener. All the snowmobilers sensed that this would be their last chance to ride this year, and it looks like they were right.  We had good snow as of last Tuesday night, and yesterday it climbed into the 50s - one week of real winter.  We were "Brigadoon" for snowmobilers last Saturday (Google it).

The Cafe's experiment with dinners on Friday and Saturday nights was a big success - thanks to everyone who came out to enjoy the Salmon Newburg, Chicken Marsala, and best of all, BBQ Ribs!  We learned alot about what works and what doesn't, and will be offering dinners again this summer.

MEANWHILE, the Emmaville Cafe will be closed the month of March, since snowmobiling, CC skiing, and ice fishing are about to end, and the only sport left is watching snow melt.  Mike and Mel are going to take this opportunity to take a much-needed vacation and hope to come back re-energized for the spring and summer.  See you then!


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Upcoming Dinner Specials

Emmaville is now serving dinner from 5 to 8 pm Friday and Saturday nights!

Also, we are now offering wine and imported beers!

Please join us - reservations recommended.

Here are our upcoming specials:

Jan. 6th: Spare Ribs & Sauer Kraut
Jan. 7th: Salmon Pasta

Jan. 13th: Chicken Marsala
Jan. 14th: Smoked Pork Chops with Cheesy Potatoes

Jan. 20th: Pork Roast with Raspberry Chipotle
Jan. 21st: Beef Stroganoff

Jan. 27th: BBQ Ribs
Jan. 28th: Lasagna

Dinner & Burger/Sandwich Menus also available

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Years Rockin' Eve at Emmaville!

Thanks to all the friends and neighbors who joined us for dinner and "White Elephant Bingo" on New Years Eve.  Alot of valuable and fun prizes were awarded to participants.  At midnight, the few remaining hardy ones helped us greet the New Year with a champagne toast.

See celebrity pix by local paparazzi below: