A Tale of Paul As I Remember It Being Told To Me

Rod Nelson of Crosslake, MN

I would like to share a story of Paul Bunyan that was told to me many years back. Of course I may have forgotten some details, but hope that the importance of the story is not lost.

Now you see, Paul Bunyan, because he could do his work so quickly had a great deal of extra time on his hands. Being a creative sort of guy, he would make up ways to entertain himself. And with the these forms of relaxation he was easier to get along with when he had to be with others. One of his efforts resulted in what he called golfing.

Paul had the entire area to play his game. And of course the trees were no problem for him, the lakes - with the exception of one - presented no real challenge. He would scan the rolling hills and pick out an object somewhere in the distance to aim for. Paul would stick his little ball holder in the ground and carefully balance a ball of sorts on it. He would take a few practice swings and then approach the ball. There was no pressure or stress on him at this moment since no one else was around. Actually no one else even played golf. Babe, his Great Blue Ox, did go with him on many days but in most cases Babe was very supportive of Paul's efforts.

With a mighty swing he would make that ball sail towards his goal. Then he picked up his little ball holder and headed off with Babe to find the ball and continue hitting it towards his goal. Often times Babe - out of the clear blue sky - would challenge Paul (in ox talk) to do it in a certain number of swings. Unfortunately this created a little bit of stress for Paul and he didn't always make it. But Babe was very careful not to say too much (in ox talk) if the number of swings was a lot higher than they had set.

Now of course there were those days when Paul would approach the ball and take his usual swing, but the ball didn't sail as he expected. Maybe his grip wasn't quite right, or his stance was askew, or his fingers slipped, or his follow through weakened, or his boot placement was off, or his eyes looked up, or the wind blew, or even a crow would caw. This usually made Paul less than a happy lumberjack. And Babe was again careful not to say anything (in ox talk) although he would turn and give a little snort just for the heck of it. And at these times Paul would forget to pick up his little ball holder as he stamped off to find the ball.

Now it is true that we are lucky that two of these ball holders (we call them tees) are still standing. Yes, one can be seen on County Road 11. Ospreys have built a nest on it and they certainly would resist any effort if you tried to use it as a golf tee. The other one is on Route 66. It is rumored that some eagles were considering building a nest on it but when they heard how high the taxes were in the area, they decided they had more important ways to spend their eagle money.

Now it is also true that on many of those less than happy days for Paul, his golfballs would end up in one particular lake. Somehow when ever he headed in that direction, that lake caused problems for him. And it was on the days that Babe was with him that Paul would have Babe surface dive and recover all the lost balls. That Great Blue Ox became very skilled with his surface dives and was quite a sight to see. But the important thing to know is that Paul called this lake Ox's Lake since Babe would do his thing in it. Today we just say Ox Lake and leave it at that.

Now the other interesting thing that happened is that as newcomers came to the area they began to play this golf game. (The Ojibwe and Dakota did not because they had many more meaningful ways to spend their time.) Do remember that Paul could have as many goals as he wanted because no one else was doing this golf thing. But when the newcomers started they had to restrict themselves to only 18 goals. And they came up with the idea of little holes as goals. They actually decided to call them "holes" because it rhymed with Paul's word of goals. This restriction was also necessary because they wanted to see how many courses of these 18 goals or holes they could squeeze into a given area.

And so today we can thank Paul and his Great Blue Ox, Babe, for this golfing thing that happens around the area. We can also take a few minutes when going by these old tees of Paul and ponder how he looked as he placed his little ball holder in the ground and then took a mighty swing. And of course, as we peek through the trees hiding Ox Lake, we can only imagine the surface dives of that Great Blue Ox, Babe.

Now that's the story as it was told to me. I hope I haven't forgotten any of the important details.