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Steven M Ulmen

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Books by Steven M Ulmen
The Legend of Mount Arnockers State Park
By Steven M Ulmen
Posted: Sunday, March 05, 2006
Last edited: Sunday, March 05, 2006
This short story was "not rated" by the Author.
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· The Cannon River Odyssey
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This short story is a satire based on the novel, "Hawkins County," soon to be released. It deals with state parks and how some of them come to receive their unusual names. It features a couple of characters from the novel.
"You have a nice place here," Jack Johnson said to Park Ranger Karl Hanson. "I must say, it has an unusual name."

"Well now, there's a story about that," Ranger Hanson replied. "Back in the early 1800's, a husband and wife settled here. They were immigrants from Germany and came from aristocratic backgrounds. He was a Baron, Baron Claude Arnockers. His lovely and buxom wife, Sharon, also had a royal lineage. She was said to have a fine hand and was quite adept at the art of callegraphy, so she personally made up calling cards for her and the Baron. They read: 'Baron and Sharon Arnockers' in beautiful callegraphy script.

The Baron was a shrewd businessman and he and Sharon arrived in this part of Minnesota in time to get actively involved in the Hudsons Bay fur trade." Ranger Hanson pointed to a beautifully restored stone mansion tucked away serenely amongst the trees. "The Baron built that house up there, which is the highest point in five counties, and called the place Mount Arnockers. From here he conducted his fur trading and within a few years he amassed a sizable fortune. In fact, he and Hercules Dousman, who settled along the Mississippi River and built the mansion known as Villa Louis near Prairie du Chien, were quite the competitors during the fur trading era, each trying to best the other. The Baron also tried his hand at writing and roughed out a novel called "Hawkins County," but it never went anywhere, never sold, and later was found amongst his personal effects.

In due time, the Baron and Sharon were blessed with two children. Their daughter, Shirley Pat Arnockers, was the first-born and a few years later a son, Andy Claude Arnockers, joined the family. The Baron and Sharon doted on the children and provided them with the best that money could buy, and the four resided in this mansion for many years. Neither Shirley Pat nor Andy Claude Arnockers had the business sense that the Baron had, however, and to put it bluntly, both of them were loonier than shithouse rats. The Baron and Sharon passed away in the early 1900's in a tragic canoeing accident right here on the Cannon River when they were attacked by a school of vicious carp. Shirley Pat and Andy Claude Arnockers then continued to live together in the mansion. They lived very comfortably off the wealth of the Baron's estate, but neither ever married and they became hermits, sheltering themselves inside the mansion from the outside world.

About 15 years later, both Shirley Pat and Andy Claude joined their parents in the great beyond. Their remains were found about a month after their demise by the poor schmuck who came to deliver their fuel oil. He discovered Shirly Pat and Andy Claude Arnockers sitting side by side in the parlor on the ornate victorian sofa in peaceful repose. The Edison phonograph next to them had wound down, but still rested on a recording by Bing Crosby entitled 'Toora Loora Looral, that's an Irish Lullaby.' Smashed against the wall was another record. The deaths were ruled to be from natural causes...the natural cause being poisoning from a case of cheap beer that was found with the bodies. The forensic team painstakingly pieced the broken record back together and discovered it was 'The Too Fat Polka' by Arthur Godfrey. The forensic team reported that they could understand why the record was smashed beyond recognition and that the listener could be driven to drink a liberal dose of cheap beer by listening to it.

Leaving no heirs, the estate fell into ruin and the mansion sat empty for many years. Then it and the surrounding property," Ranger Hanson motioned to the surrounding countryside, "there are 2,000 deeded acres here, reverted to the state of Minnesota. The Historical Society moved in, took over the mansion, and restored it to its former glory. They now operate it as a museum. As for the land, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources took it over and made a state park out of it. That's how we got our name, Mount Arnockers State Park."

"Wow, that's quite a story," Jack said, pulling out his Zippo and lighting up a fag.

"Yes, it is," Ranger Hanson replied. "So now you know the legend of Mount Arnockers State Park, or as Paul Harvey would say, 'Now you know the rest of the story.'"

Jack and Ranger Hanson shook hands and went their seperate ways. Behind them looomed the outline of the mighty Arnockers mansion and in an upstairs window, a white lace curtain was pulled back. There in the window stood the spirits of the Baron and Sharon and their two children, Shirley Pat and Andy Claude Arnockers, waving silently at the departing men.

The curtain dropped back and a few minutes later the soft hue of a kerosene lantern appeared in a window on the main level. It illuminated four shadows against the back wall, two of them a man and a woman and two of them children, standing around an Edison phonograph. The mellow voice of Bing Crosby singing "Toora Loora Looral" could be heard drifting on the breeze. As the song ended and Bing Crosby fell silent, the lantern light went out and once again, all was quiet on Mount Arnockers.

Web Site: Eagle Entertainment USA  

Reader Reviews for "The Legend of Mount Arnockers State Park"

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Reviewed by Rick Lodewell 3/11/2008
I didn't see that coming!!! Excellent.
Reviewed by Missy Cross 3/8/2006
an entertaining read. loved the twist!
Reviewed by Birgit and Roger Pratcher 3/6/2006
A great story with an unexpected ending!
Birgit and Roger

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