Fictional columnist James Qwilleran has finally completed his book showcasing the stories related to him by residents of Moose County-that famous region four hundred miles north of everywhere. With an introduction by Lilian Jackson Braun, this delightful volume reveals the offbeat "history" of Moose County-in never-before-published stories. It's a treat for old and new fans alike.
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June 02, 2005
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Excerpt from Short and Tall Tales by Lilian Jackson Braun
The Legend of the Rubbish Heap
A Chronicle of Two Pioneer Families
How a miraculous bit of good luck started a three-generation course of success and disappointment, love and hatred, disaster and . . . all's well that ends well. It happened in Moose County, and details are corroborated by interviews with oldtimers and by diaries, letters, and other documents in the Pickax historical collection.
In the mid nineteenth century, when Moose County was beginning to boom, it was a Gold Rush without the gold. There were veins of coal to be mined, forests to be lumbered, granite to be quarried, land to be developed, fortunes to be made. It would become the richest county in the state.
In 1859 two penniless youths from Germany arrived by schooner, by way of Canada. On setting foot on the foreign soil, they looked this way and that to get their bearings, and both saw it at the same time! A piece of paper money in a rubbish heap! Without stopping to inquire its value, they tore it in half to signify their partnership. It would be share and share alike from then on.
Their names were Otto Wilhelm Limburger and Karl Gustav Klingenschoen. They were fifteen years old.
Labor was needed. They hired on as carpenters, worked long hours, obeyed orders, learned everything they could, used their wits, watched for opportunities, took chances, borrowed wisely, cheated a little, and finally launched a venture of their own.
By the time they were in their thirties, Otto and Karl dominated the food and shelter industry. They owned all the rooming houses, eating places, and travelers' inns along the shoreline. Only then did they marry: Otto, a God-fearing woman named Gretchen; Karl, a fun-loving woman nicknamed Minnie. At the double wedding the friends pledged to name their children after each other. They hoped for boys, but girls could be named Karla and Wilhelmina. Thus the two families became even more entwined . . . until rumors about Karl's wife started drifting back from the waterfront. When Karl denied the slander, Otto trusted him.
But there was more! One day Karl approached his partner with an idea for expanding their empire. They would add saloons, dance halls, and female entertainment of various kinds. Otto was outraged! The two men argued. They traded insults. They even traded a few blows and, with noses bleeding, tore up the fragments of currency that had been in their pockets since the miracle of the rubbish heap.
Karl proceeded on his own and did extremely well, financially. To prove it, he built a fine fieldstone mansion in Pickax City, across from the courthouse. In retaliation Otto imported masons and woodworkers from Europe to build a brick palace in the town of Black Creek. How the community reacted to the two architectural wonders should be mentioned. The elite of the county vied for invitations to sip tea and view Otto's black walnut woodwork; Karl and Minnie sent out invitations to a party and no one came.