The evening was a lot of fun and, I think, a huge success. We had a good turnout and despite my flubbing the pronunciation of a couple of names in Iron Range history, the audience responded well to the reading. I read a short passage from the book and afterwards took questions. We discussed the characters in the novel, the collusion of historical fact and fiction, and the journey the novel took to reach publication.
The event was held at the beautiful B’nai Abraham Museum and Cultural Center in Virginia, in conjunction with the Virginia Area Historical Society. The Museum resides within the last remaining synagogue on the Iron Range. A group of dedicated volunteers and local residents raised the funds to preserve the old building and save it from being demolished when the congregation could not sustain enough members to maintain the building. Thanks to Harry Lamppa at the VAHS and to Margie Ostrov for allowing us to use this amazing historic structure.
One thing of note from the event. Early on a woman approached me and offered her hand to shake. She smiled broadly and said, “Hi, Jeff, I’m Casey. I saw you on the news this morning and I wanted to come out here and meet you and buy a copy of your book.” She had brought her husband, Andy, and their two children along. Both of them are school teachers in Aurora, and both are interested in the history of the Mesabi Range. I was thrilled to see that the publicity we have been working so hard on for weeks seemed to be paying off in getting the word out about the book.
That’s really all I can ask for from the next week and a half, that when I leave Minnesota more people know about Mesabi Pioneers. If they know of the book, then maybe they’ll want to pick up a copy at their local Barnes & Noble or Book World stores, or online, and maybe they’ll read it and like it, the way Aaron Brown did, and then maybe they’ll tell their friends about it, and they’ll tell their friends, and they’ll tell their friends. That’s what I can hope from these events and from these two weeks touring Minnesota.