Sports teams like the NBA’s Philadelphia 76er's and the NFL's San Francisco 49ers are also named after significant events; the 76ers being the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and, 49ers signifying the year gold was discovered in California.
There have been other places named, by individuals or groups to commemorate an event or create a place forever in the minds of the people who were there. Lost Keys, Minnesota comes to mind. It’s not really a town but a fact. I was grouse hunting with several of my friends in northern Minnesota, and as it sometimes happens when following pointing dogs in the deep woods you run to keep up. Bill Norwood was doing his levelheaded best when he fell into a badger hole and literally exploded. I don’t mean we found him in little pieces, but you would have thought so. His shotgun shells went one way, his shotgun another and the contents of his vest another. It looked like his vest exploded by the time we got to him. As we helped him gather everything, a dog went on point. Suddenly, all was forgotten as we closed in on our third grouse of the day.
Looking back on it now, I can see how that day was forever etched in our memories; something about Murphy’s Law and if anything can go wrong it will. We had continued to hunt that morning and picked up two more when we finally got back to the Suburban. We started that morning with the idea that we’d quit about noon because we had about an hour drive to get back to Bemidji. I had meetings scheduled and the others had similar tasks on their agenda. As Bill searched for the keys he realized he didn’t have them. We all took into account the events of that morning and came to the conclusion that the keys must have been back where all heck broke loose when he fell. We were ten miles off the main road and according to the tracks in the road we were the only ones back in that part of the country.
The only thing we could think of was someone had to walk out and get to the main road, then hitch a ride into Bemidji and come back for the rest of the hunting party. It was somewhere in the middle of drawing straws that I looked around and decided, no matter who drew the short straw, I would have to be the one. Bill had asthma, Fred’s feet were blistered from breaking in new boots and EJ barely made it that morning because of what he called an old football injury. That was the excuse he’d used for years knowing full well it had been over 30 years since he’d even had a football in his hands. So to stop the suspense I just volunteered.
I estimated I would reach the highway in three hours. If I could get a ride I could make it to my pickup in another 40 minutes and then an hour back to get everyone. “Five hours tops,” I told everyone as I left in not as fast but steady gait. I was into the third mile when the wind picked up and it started to rain.
Meanwhile back at the suburban the guys were experiencing the same fate. They huddled together under a big pine tree that partially deferred the downpour. I think it was somewhere between showers that Bob decided he wanted to get to a drier place. He looked down and saw a big, although not too large rock just right for throwing. He picked it up, walked over and tried to break out the back window. It took three tries before he finally succeeded. It was after the second try and just as the rock hit the window shattering it into a million pieces that EJ pushed the button on the passenger side and opened the right front door.
I was closing in on the fifth mile when it occurred to Bill he had hid the keys, behind the right front tire. Bob always put the keys in his jacket pocket but that day he decided he would put them in another place and just forgot. They all piled in putting Brownie, Bob’s Gordon Setter, in the back only after they brushed out the glass.
By that time I looked like a drowned rat. As the suburban came up behind me they hit the horn and scared the living daylights out of me. As we got to the highway EJ, who is one of the funniest storytellers I’ve ever met, got to the point where the rock hit the window as he opened the door. I lost it completely. That place will always be known to us as Lost Keys.
Do you have any places like that? Nearly everyone who has spent any time in the woods or on the water surely does. By the way, when we got the grouse out to clean them we were one short. It seems Brownie liked her grouse rare!