Thursday, April 18, 2024

A Visit with Sue Dugan Moline, Author of The Lake Turned Upside Down

Because I was born in Cleveland and raised in New Jersey I'm routinely asked how I ended up in Minnesota. Answer: In 1976 I came to attend a Missionary Training Center in Bloomington called Bethany Fellowship. 

Sometime early in my freshman year I heard reference to a traumatic event that occurred several years earlier, a massive F4 tornado which took 15 lives, many of them part of the Bethany community.

When I learned about it, it surprised me at how little information there was. No one talked about it and most people are too polite to pry. We only knew it was something that happened and a lot of people were killed.

Somewhere along the way I learned a few bits and pieces. The story of how Pastor Brokke failed to make it to the cabin and his son lay on top of him became an almost legendary tale, as well as the manner in which the cabin was lifted from its foundation and thrown directly into the lake. The images were vivid and painful, but always in absence of context.

This year I finally had all my questions answered and my narrative corrected. The details had been compiled in a book by someone who was there, Sue Dugan Moline. For some reason I'd thought that the entire Bethany staff had gone to a lake up near Brainerd, like a summer retreat, and this deadly tornado struck. As it turns out, the outing involved only three Bethany families. (And the lake where they had gone was in Outing, MN, the center of the state and not the Northwest.

When I first learned of Sue Dugan Moline's book, I very much wanted to read it. Perhaps in part because I personally knew some of the survivors who experienced it. Though Sue's father was a popular teacher at the school, teaching classes on Homiletics and the Book of Acts, I can't recall him ever making a single reference to it. And although this event was long ago and far away, the book made it feel like yesterday. 
 
EN: The Lake Turned Upside Down is an incredible story of the fifth deadliest tornado in Minnesota history. How many people from Bethany or Bethany related people were there at Roosevelt Lake that day?

Sue Dugan Moline
SDM:
28 people total were at the four Bethany cabins that week. At the time of the tornado there were 22 people on the property. Six had left shortly before the tornado. The 28 were either living at Bethany or were relatives of Bethany staff who had reserved the cabins.  
 
EN: What was the occasion that brought these three families there that week?

SDM: The cabins were available for Bethany staff member vacations for up to two weeks each summer. The Harold Carlson family was in Cabin #1 with two sons (Darrel and Dale) and his in-laws, Rev. Arthur and Minnie Olson.
 
The Dugan family had cabins #2 and #3, one reserved by my parents Toby and Vonnie Dugan, and one reserved by my grandma Edith Dugan with her youngest children Diane and Terry. The Dugans also had brought a Bethany pop-up camper for extra sleeping space. The two-week vacation was a Dugan family reunion with our out-of-state uncles and aunts staying with us -- Ken and Barb Dugan and sons (Ron and Don) from Canoga Park, California, and Rev. Dick and Priscilla Dugan and 3 kids (Sheila, Shane & Sharon) from Huron, SD.  18 of the 28 were Dugans. 
 
The last cabin was reserved by Rev. Harold and Cathy Brokke and their two sons, Dan and Paul.  
 
EN: 15 people were killed in the superstorm. How many died from the Bethany group?

SDM: Seven of the deaths occurred on the Bethany property, 12 total were killed in the Outing F4 tornado. The other three deaths occurred in other tornadoes that same day (The Northwoods Tornado Outbreak, as it is called by the NWS).  
  
EN: What prompted you to write this book?

Divers were called in to search the lake for bodies.
SDM:
 Curiosity is what prompted me to start asking questions. I realized that I had a very limited memory of the event and always wondered what other survivors remembered. But I was a rather shy and self-conscious young person and did not find it easy to ask questions of other survivors. After both of my parents had died, I realized that if I didn't ask questions soon, there would be nobody left to ask or at least memories intact. At that point, five survivors had already died and Harold Carlson and Cathy Brokke were both in their 90s.  
 
Although I never intended to write a book, just the sheer volume of stories that I collected from survivors, first responders and people "up north" compelled me to document them.  I had become a "clearing house" of sorts for the August 6, 1969, tornado and people were very interested in the story. 
 
EN: What surprised you most when you began assembling all these stories?

Debris where one of the cabins had been.
SDM: I was surprised how willing everyone was to talk about their memories. I was also surprised by how interested the central Minnesota area was in the story and information I had collected. I think my story was covered by 7 different newspapers across northern Minnesota and many people responded to me with their individual memories via phone calls and emails.
 
EN: You shared that people chose not to talk about what happened that tragic day. How would have things been different had these stories been shared in the years that followed? I’m thinking of the 70s.

SDM: I have not thought about that. My book might have been longer, or perhaps I would not have written it. I do wish I could have interviewed my parents, my two uncles, and Pastor Brokke. The story would have been more complete. My uncle Dick Dugan did write an article or two after the event and the death of his daughter Sharon. And Dan Brokke wrote an article for a youth magazine. So they were comfortable sharing their stories. 
 
But 45 years later when I met with Bethany classmates for breakfast at Perkins (every 2-3 months), I asked them if they had ever heard the story and they had not. They knew a few details, but we did not talk about it as classmates. I think part of that era was politeness in not bringing up painful issues. In the long run, talking about it was very therapeutic and filled in so many details for our children and grandchildren. 


EN: There were four cabins that the families were staying at. When the tornado suddenly came, most of the people attempted to gather in the one cabin. Why that one? How many were in the cabin when it was lifted up and tossed into the lake? Where was everyone else?

SDM: Cabin #3 was at the bottom of a very, very steep hill. Both cabins #1 and #2 were at the top of the hill, high above the lake. People were taught to run to the lowest area in a storm or tornado. Because of that my Grandma Dugan and family from cabin #1 ran down the hill to our cabin because it was low-lying, right at lake level.  The Brokke's ran over from cabin #4 -- probably mostly to warn us that they had seen a tornado. Their cabin was furthest west and the tornado was coming from the west.  Two of them stayed in cabin #3 (Cathy & Paul), but Pastor Brokke and Dan stayed outside and hit the ground. 
 
EN: Was there any “safe place” there? We have over 10,000 lakes in Minnesota with cabins around them. Can something like this happen again and how can people prepare, to avoid a similar outcome?

SDM:
 There was no safe place on the property. Being thrown into the lake actually saved lives. If we had more notice, we probably would have headed up the hill to cabin #1, the older original cabin that did have a walkout basement facing west. We all would have died. That cabin was also completely destroyed and only 9 cement blocks remained intact in the walkout basement. Evy Carlson and her parents, Rev. Arthur and Minnie Olson, were violently killed. We don't know where they were when the tornado hit -- perhaps trying to get down to that walkout basement via an outside stairway, but they were all killed.  
 
Some people now will build "safe rooms" in their cabins where the high water table will not allow a basement. My daughter and son-in-law built a lake home in Crosslake and we have a "safe room" between the home and garage, totally encased in cement. As well, communication via cell phones allows people to follow the weather and radar. In 1969, there were no civil defense sirens in the town of Outing, Minnesota.


Related Links
Purchase the book Here on Amazon.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

2024 Films-On-Music Series at The West Theatre

This coming weekend--April 19-25--the West Theater here in Duluth is hosting a mini film fest featuring films showcasing music. Here's the schedule, with film summaries below. Which ones will you go to see?


Click to enlarge


It Might Get Loud

Davis Guggenheim USA 2008 Documentary -- 98 mins

“It Might Get Loud” is a 2008 American documentary film by filmmaker Davis Guggenheim. The film explores the careers and musical styles of three prominent rock guitarists: Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, The Edge of U2, and Jack White of The White Stripes. It reveals how each developed his unique sound and style of playing favorite instruments, guitars both found and invented. The film revolves around a day when Jimmy Page, Jack White, and The Edge first met and sat down together to share their stories, teach, and play.

Best viewed in the theater.


Velvet Goldmine 

Todd Haynes USA 1998 Drama -- 118 Mins

"Velvet Goldmine" is a 1998 musical drama film directed by Todd Haynes. Set in Britain during the glam rock days of the early 1970s, it tells the story of a fictional bisexual pop star named Brian Slade, who faked his own death. The film uses non-linear storytelling to achieve exposition while interweaving the vignettes of its various characters.

Best viewed in the theater.


Stop Making Sense

Jonathan Demme USA Documentary 1984 -- 88 mins

Considered by critics as the greatest concert film of all time, the live performance was shot over the course of three nights at Hollywood's Pantages Theater in December of 1983 and features Talking Heads' most memorable songs. Newly restored in 4K to coincide with its 40th anniversary, the 1984 film was directed by renowned filmmaker Jonathan Demme.

Best viewed in the theater.


Joan Baez: I Am A Noise

Directors Miri Navasky | Maeve O'Boyle | Karen O'Connor, USA 2023 -- 113 mins

At the end of a 60-year career, legendary singer and activist Joan Baez takes an honest look back and a deep look inward as she tries to make sense of her large, history-making life, and the personal struggles she's kept private.


Neither a conventional biopic nor a traditional concert film, JOAN BAEZ I AM A NOISE is a raw and intimate portrait of the legendary folk singer and activist that shifts back and forth through time as it follows Joan on her final tour and delves into her extraordinary archive, including newly discovered home movies, diaries, artwork, therapy tapes, and audio recordings. Baez is remarkably revealing about her life on and off stage - from her lifelong emotional struggles to her civil rights work with MLK and a heartbreaking romance with a young Bob Dylan. A searingly honest look at a living legend, this film is a compelling and deeply personal exploration of an iconic artist who has never told the full truth of her life, as she experienced it, until now.


Finding Her Beat

Directors: Dawn Mikkelson | Keri Pickett USA 2022 -- 89 minutes

For thousands of years women have been locked out of Taiko drumming. Not anymore. In the dead of a Minnesota winter, Asian drumming divas smash gender roles and redefine power on their own terms. FINDING HER BEAT dives into the rhythms and struggles that lead to an electrifying historic performance that changes everything.


Jay’s Longhorn

Director: Mark Engebretson USA 2019 -- 93 minutes

Before First Avenue there was Jay's Longhorn - the epicenter of the Minneapolis punk rock and indie rock scene in the late 1970s. At a time when the music scene was dominated by Top 40 cover bands, a group of punk rock visionaries - led by Andy Schwartz, former publisher of the New York Rocker -- scoured the city in search of a place that would welcome the New Wave. The Suicide Commandos, Flamingo, Curtiss A, the Suburbs, and NNB found a home at Jay's Longhorn -- which also served as the launching pad for Hüsker Dü and the Replacements and the preferred venue for touring acts like Elvis Costello, The B-52s, and The Police. 


Meeting Charlie Parr

Directors: Francois Xavier Dubois & Charles Dubois, France 2013 -- 70 Mins

Meeting Charlie Parr is a musical journey through the Midwest that meets one its most emblematic folk singers. In the Great Lakes forests, through the Minnesota plains, on stage or at home, we get to know Charlie Parr, an endearing and unique artist. Meeting after meeting, Charlie talks about his authentic blues music and what it says about America.

 

Big "Shout Out" to Bob Boone at The Reader and Richard Hansen of the DuSu Film Festival.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Get Ready to Celebrate National Record Store Day at the New Globe News in Superior

On April 20 Globe News in Superior will be celebrating "Record Store Day." The annual Record Store Day, which occurs on the third Saturday in April, is an international event celebrated by independent record stores and music enthusiasts. It aims to promote and celebrate the culture of independently owned record stores and vinyl records.

During Record Store Day, participating stores often offer special vinyl releases, exclusive merchandise, and live performances to attract customers and highlight the importance of supporting local record stores. It's a day where music lovers come together to celebrate their passion for physical music formats and the unique experience of browsing through records in a brick-and-mortar store.


The first "National Record Store Day" took place in 2007. To learn more about this event I caught up with the new owner of Globe News, Jon Fritsche. 


EN: How did you learn about National Record Store Day? How did you get involved in this?


Jon Fritsche: I learned about it from my predecessor Tom when we discussed some of the biggest events Globe News was a part of before I took ownership of it. We work with a great vendor to get exclusive record items for my passionate vinyl fans. 


EN: What motivated you to take ownership of Superior's Globe News?


JF: Two words: Legacy and Community. I wanted to continue on the great atmosphere that Tom had created at Globe News throughout the years. Most of us didn’t go to Globe just for the products, but also for the friendships we made with and through Tom. So I took that feeling that I had as a customer visiting and continued to build on the community by adding a common space for us gamers and redoing the entire records and comics areas to better suit our guest’s needs. I’m proud of where we’ve gotten in just over a year, and get excited to see where we can continue to grow this over the next few years. 


EN: Does entrepreneurship run in your family? Were your parents or other relatives business owners?  If so, where? 


Facebook QR Code for Globe News
JF: It did when I got married to my wife Beth. But previously growing up no, I had no entrepreneurs on my side of the family. Her folks are both business owners and through their guidance and support Beth and I were able to create a wonderful life of entrepreneurship for ourselves. We currently own and operate four restaurants, albeit she does 100% of the operations in them now that I’m in Globe News full time. We also own residential rental properties with her siblings along with now owning our first commercial property, the New Jersey building in Superior aka the Globe News building. We also have partners for our restaurants and Globe News that have been along this journey with us and I couldn’t say enough great things about them as well. 


EN: You seem pretty passionate about what you are doing here. What is it that gets you most jazzed about what you're creating?


New game room has been a "go to" for gamers.
JF: 100% the community and the connections I help create. I love knowing a majority of my clientele by name and knowing what they like or come in to Globe News for. I would say hands down, the best days are the ones when I have folks who haven’t seen how Globe has changed walk through that door and have that “wooow” moment. Then I get to meet someone new and create that bond that allows me to help a fellow gamer or collector continue to find the things they’re passionate about. 


EN: What is it about collectibles--whether cards, games, comics, etc.--so invigorating for people?


JF: I think it’s the chase factor mixed with the fear of missing out. Thats what makes collecting so fun. Competition helps drives the games, completion and enjoyment for comics and records is what I what would also add to that. 




https://recordstoreday.com/


Thursday, April 11, 2024

Economic Climate Change: There's a Train Wreck A-Comin'

Economics historian Niall Ferguson, while talking about his book Doom a few years ago, noted that the U.S. was in serious trouble because its politicians perpetually avoid doing anything that was unpopular. To be specific, he was referring to raising taxes. Our national debt can not keep increasing like it has. And yet nowhere do I see protests about this fiscal irresponsibility.

This notion came mind during this year's State of the Union address in which the president vowed that he would not raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year.

President Biden's declaration, when juxtaposed against the facts, shows how out of touch Americans are with regard to our nation's financial situation. The reality is that taxes will have to be raised for all of us because the government refuses to cap spending. Year after year our legislators raise the debt ceiling, sometimes even more than once a year. The government perpetually spends more than taxpayers are paying. 

Every time the government needs more money, they squawk about the need to raise the debt ceiling. And voila! The debt ceiling is raised so we can keep the government running and maintain the illusion that all is well. As of February 2024, the U.S. national debt was $34.37 trillion.

You would think that with the national debt being so massive our government leaders would be discussing a responsible plan for reducing this economic noose, but no. The forecast going forward is continuous bloat. Or rather, an ever deeper hole. In ten years the federal debt is projected to be a mind-boggling $54 trillion.

Individuals who get in a bind because they've maxed out their credit cards can end up in the untenable situation where all the money they make is used to pay off the interest on their debt, while never having hope of getting free. 

Eventually our nation will be in that same scenario. At some point in time the entire U.S. economy will be devoted to making interest payments on the debt, a debt which will never decrease. There will be no money left to fix failing infrastructure and at some point no money left to keep the lights on.  

This is not to suggest that Republicans will do what's necessary if they regain the reins of power. Neither party seems to have the stomach for doing what is needful. This is the Achilles heel of democracy. Politicians pander to please an uninformed public. As a result, everyone has their hand out for their share of government largesse. And neither party has the courage to be forthright or honest about the consequences.

*

To reiterate, President Biden affirmed his commitment to not raise taxes for families making less than $400 thousand. What strikes me about the $400,000 number is that the president acts as if people making less than that amount are living in poverty. Some day, when electric grid goes down and our economy collapses, we'll find out first hand what poverty really feels like.

* * * 

Originally published on the Op-Ed page of the Duluth News Tribune, March 2024.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Voter Fraud Is Real; Disbelieving That It Happens Is Naive

According to Newsweek: 

Besides the United States, there are 36 member states in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Forty-seven percent ban mail-in voting unless the citizen is living abroad, and 30 percent require a photo ID to obtain a mail-in ballot. Fourteen percent of the countries ban mail-in voting even for those living abroad.

https://www.newsweek.com/voting-fraud-real-concern-just-look-around-world-opinion-1522535

France banned mail-in voting in 1975 because of massive fraud in Corsica, where postal ballots were stolen or bought and voters cast multiple votes. Mail-in ballots were used to cast the votes of dead people.

Among the 27 countries in the European Union, 63 percent ban mail-in voting unless living abroad and another 22 percent require a photo ID to obtain a mail-in ballot. Twenty-two percent ban the practice even for those who live abroad.

In 1991, Mexico's election mandated voter photo IDs and banned absentee ballots. The then-governing Institutional Revolutionary Party had long used fraud and intimidation with mail-in ballots in order to win elections. Only in 2006 were absentee ballots again allowed, and then only for those living abroad who requested them at least six months in advance.

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3666259

In the early 80's we had a friend who was a professional photographer at Fingerhut in Minneapolis. Being single, he enjoyed traveling and sharing photos from exotic places he'd visited. One of his trips took him to Ecuador and he happened to be in that country on election day. 

He showed us photos of people with their thumbs ink-blackened as a sign that they had voted. It was his understanding that voting was required by law, so people were easily identified as having voted or evaded it. The black thumb prevented people from voting more than once.

Here's an article about 25 countries that still mark voters with ink:
https://tricitytimes-online.com/2020/12/23/25-countries-mark-voters-with-ink/

* * * * 

Here's an abstract detailing the issue of voter fraud in other parts of the world.

Why Do Most Countries Ban Mail-In Ballots?: They Have Seen Massive Vote Fraud Problems

152 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2020 Last revised: 26 Apr 2021

John R. Lott

Crime Prevention Research Center

Date Written: August 3, 2020


Abstract

Thirty-seven states have so far changed their mail-in voting procedures this year in response to the Coronavirus. Despite frequent claims that President Trump’s warning about vote fraud/voting buying with mail-in ballots is “baselessly” or “without evidence” about mail-in vote fraud, there are numerous examples of vote fraud and vote buying with mail-in ballots in the United States and across the world. Indeed, concerns over vote fraud and vote buying with mail-in ballots causes the vast majority of countries to ban mail-in voting unless the citizen is living abroad.

There are fraud problems with mail-in absentee ballots but the problems with universal mail-in ballots are much more significant. Still most countries ban even absentee ballots for people living in their countries.


Most developed countries ban absentee ballots unless the citizen is living abroad or require Photo-IDs to obtain those ballots. Even higher percentages of European Union or other European countries ban absentee for in country voters. In addition, some countries that allow voting by mail for citizens living the country don’t allow it for everyone. For example, Japan and Poland have limited mail-in voting to those who have special certificates verifying that they are disabled.

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3666259


Countries that require a photo ID to vote: UK Italy Chile Spain Malta Brazil Israel Latvia Russia France Mexico Austria Ireland Poland Greece Croatia Finland Estonia Belgium Sweden Bulgaria Portugal Hungary Ecuador Slovenia Slovakia Romania Denmark Germany Lithuania Argentina Columbia Botswana Zimbabwe Luxemburg Netherlands South Africa Czech Republic
(Just to name a few)

People who deny that voter fraud happens are either naive or ______. (Fill in the blank.)

EdNote: I am not a right-wing nut. Why is common sense so uncommon?

Monday, April 8, 2024

Memories

Total Eclipse
In the days of the Solar Eclipse
when the sun for a time hid its face
the creatures of night all emerged to explore
the strange world of non-light at mid-day.

Copyright 1984-ed newman 

Photo by Jongsun Lee on Unsplash

Saturday, April 6, 2024

California Keeps Lawyers Occupied as Common Sense Falls by the Wayside

Here are two California stories that caught my eye this weekend. This first appeared in Reason magazine.

San Francisco Bill Would Let People Sue Grocery Stores for Closing Too Quickly

A proposed ordinance would empower people to sue supermarkets that close without giving the city six months' advance notice.

* * *  

Now, here is my question: Will a bill like this incentivize ANY businessperson to start a grocery store in San Francisco? The intentions may be good (to take care of the community's food necessities during the six months they prepare for alternative grocery supplies) but the long term effect will be to create the opposite effect. No new grocery store will move into that neighborhood because it's too high risk. 

There are already too many regulators and regulations in California. I remember reading a story a number of year back in which someone wanted to start an albacore business. They had to get approvals from nearly 50 agencies before they even opened. After opening they were fined $25,000 because they had not obtained approval from yet another agency that they had never even heard of. 

The story in Reason noted that grocery store executives had been warning that layers of process (red tape) would make it less likely that grocery stores would even do business there in the first place.

As I've noted repeatedly, incentives matter. Make it easy to do business and you get more businesses (and jobs). The harder you make it to do business, the fewer entrepreneurs and risk takers you'll have in your town, city or state. 

Read the full account here at Reason.

ON THE ENERGY FRONT

In January, Joe Biden and the Department of Energy coughed up $1.1 billion to keep Diablo Canyon running. This move came after Governor Gavin Newsom of California put his foot down, saying the plant, originally slated to shut down in 2025, had to stay open to prevent blackouts.

In response, California environmentalists are now throwing a fit and suing to shut down the very same Diablo Canyon reactor, the state’s final nuclear power plant. This plant produces about 9% of California's juice. 


Meanwhile, lawmakers are running feasibility studies to see if they can get buy-in for next-gen nuclear reactors. They know Californians won't be thrilled if they don't keep the lights on. It's not a given.      


You can read a more complete account at The Center Square: California enviros sue to close last nuclear plant providing 9% of state's power 

  

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Throwback Thursday: Fate and Consequences in 'The Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs

One evening last year my daughter's former English teacher asked if i'd ever read The Monkey's Paw. I forget the trigger event, though it may have been discussing The Nonsense Room, a story from my book Unremembered Histories, short stories with a supernatural twist. I'd read it perhaps half a century ago when I was in school, but remembered nothing about it. After revisiting this story I now recommend it here to you.

The Monkey's Paw is essentially a variation of the traditional genie in a bottle genre in which a person can get three wishes. But it's three wishes from the dark side. Not only do the wishes come true, when they do they have unanticipated shocking consequences. The manner in which the tale is told is what grips you. As with all good stories, the reader plunges forward because he or she is eager to see what will happen next.

It begins on a dark, dreary night as the White family waits for a visitor to their out of the way home.  The father and son are playing chess in the parlor while white-haired Mrs. White sits knitting by the fireplace.

The second paragraph, a single sentence, foreshadows the sum total of the story: "Hark at the wind," said Mr. White, who, having seen a fatal mistake after it was too late, was amiably desirous of preventing his son from seeing it.

Chess provides a great variety of life lessons. Decisions must be made all throughout. Consequences of decisions aren't always readily recognizable. All too often they are made with unnecessary haste and dire consequences.

Thus we are conveyed into the story as the White's visitor arrives, a sergeant-major who has spent 21 years abroad in what the Whites believe to be exotic and adventurous places. As they talk, and splash down a few drinks, the topic turns to a monkey's paw that the visitor had mentioned to Mr. White a few days earlier.

The soldier attempts to divert the conversation, though against his better judgment he acknowledges that there is something magical in the matter. He is actually carrying the thing on him at that very moment, but in an effort to be done with it he throws it on the fire.

Mr. White takes fast action and rescues it. The grim visitor is solemn and says, "Better let it burn."

White's impulsiveness becomes the story's turning point, cementing the family's doom.

Like many such stories there's a moral: don't mess with fate. Stephen King's 1000-page 10/23/63 has essentially the same moral, except in a much more massive form. King's story is about a man who goes back in time in an effort to keep JFK from being assassinated.

Hollywood, of course, loves this kind of magical lore in films, in part because the public's craving for it seems endless. I half wonder if the Robin Williams film Jumanji had some of its ideas stimulated by The Monkey's Paw. Kids find a magical game board and start to play, but soon learn that there are unexpected consequences to each move. Sound familiar? There is even a connection to India and other exotic places here.

If you go back to the beginning of the 20th century you can see lots of fascination with "exotic places," which must have been a portion of this story's original appeal, in addition to the creepiness of its premise. Writers like Jack London and Joseph Conrad, among others, capitalized on this interest in all things foreign.

Meantime, as noted earlier, I encourage you to take a few minutes to read The Monkey's Paw. It's an unusual and very compelling story, and a good read.  

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