Keeping the silent sports community informed and self propelled.
The obituary for silent sports enthusiast and writer Roger Drayna just crossed my desk. I didn't know the Wisconsin native, but I can only hope to live as he did. Drayna died on April 8. He was 81.
Drayna, according to a news story in the Wausau Daily Herald, wrote a weekly column called "Boots and Paddles" for the Antigo Daily Journal from 1968 to 1992, contributed regularly to the Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine and was published in three anthologies.
In a piece appearing in Natural History magazine in August 2007, Drayna wrote about growing up in Superior, Wisconsin, in the 1930s and 1940s and exploring with his friends the land just beyond the former Martin Pattison Elementary School. In an earlier story for the magazine, Drayna wrote about, but did not reveal, the location of his favorite spot to fish for brook trout.
But his essay "The St. Croix - Route of the Voyageurs," which appears in the anthology River Reflections: A Collection of River Writings, published in 2005, really stands out. His account of canoeing and fishing on the St. Croix National Scenic River in northwest Wisconsin with his sons, then 11 and nearly 13, is vivid. He writes about running a stretch of whitewater with this crew:
"'Paddle!' I shouted above the din of crashing water and felt a sudden tug of pride as Mark leaned into a long, clean stroke. He'll be 13 later in the summer of 1971; a squareness of young manhood had recently come to his shoulders and ropelike cords ebbed and flowed along his bare arms.
"Then, we're into it, and long slide down the first dark-watered vee, the bow heaving upward to slam a standing wave and burst it into spray and droplets suspended in crystalline blue-whiteness. All of it, the pitching, the heaving, the whanging aluminum, lasts but an eternity of moments. Then we shoot into the flat water below.
"Eleven-year-old John twists about in his pack sack enclosure, gives me a wide, even grin topped by tousled blonde hair. His blue eyes flasj with excitement. 'Hey, dad!' he shouts amid the sounds of tumbling water, 'Some ride!'"
By sharing his love of the river with his sons, Drayna conveys the importance of preserving federally designated Wild and Scenic Rivers such as the St. Croix for the entirety of future generations.
Drayna started contributing to that legacy with the 13 years he taught English and history and with his stint as the junior high school principal in Antigo. He spent summers working as a ranger naturalist at Rocky Mountain National Park. From 1968 until his retirement in 1992, he did public relations for Wausau Insurance.
He is survived by his wife, Marcy, three sons and seven grandchildren.