I stumbled across her quite by accident. One day I had suggested to Kathy McCully (Director, Isanti County Historical Society) that for a fundraising event they might want to try an organized motorcycle ride. She thought about it for quite awhile and finally suggested that I try it. Ok, I found a map of Isanti County to try to figure out a route for this ride. It may not make sense to others but my thoughts were that the ride should take place in Isanti County and perhaps include a stop at one or more historical sites.
Looking at the map, I was excited when right away I spotted two historical symbols. One being the Olson House in Braham, the other was in the CMA. (Cranberry Wildlife Management Area) I immediately started a Google search. Nothing, I could find all kinds of DNR type info, but nothing about why there was a historical marker on the map. I called the DNR in St. Paul. They didn’t know and directed me to call our local DNR. He wasn’t sure either, but thought it might have something to do with the cranberry operation that used to be run at Lory Lake. He could not remember the name of the company.
How silly, after going through all that rig-a-ma-roll, I walk a few feet towards the back of the office where Ruth Anderson (another volunteer, so I thought) and a couple other gentlemen were working, I started talking about my dilemma and before I knew it one of the gentlemen was making me a copy of an archived photo of the Lory/Mora Cranberry operation, and Ruth (found out since that she is also a member of the accessions committee) showed me where the Lory Monster lives, right there on the shelf!
The Lory Monster came to life, she lifted her head to look at me, and with an inquisitive grin she began to raise her head high. Ruth smiled a devilish smile as if she knew what she had just shown me. There we were, “Lory” and I looking at each other, somehow knowing that we fit together. I could see it in her eyes, a knowing grin.
Some say she doesn’t exist, B.S. a folk tale, a legend, just the ramblings of a silly man, no one else has even said “she” but with the name “LORY”, I just assumed a lady. I say she lives. I sat down and read “The Lory Monster”. I found the book fascinating, definitely folk lore at its best. Lights bells and whistles went off in my head The “Lory Monster” Ride for the Preservation of Folk Tales & Other History.
What I have learned?
The “Lory Monster” (published in 1980) written by Vernon E. Bergstrom,is a short story book about a Loch Ness-type monster that lives in Lory Lake, near the town of Day. Lory Lake is located in the Cranberry Wildlife Management Area in the northern-most Isanti County. This area used to be home to the Lory Mora Cranberry Company.
Vernon E. Bergstrom was raised in the community of Day. He graduated Rush City High School in 1944. He co-authored Isanti County Minnesota-an Illustrated History, with Marilyn McGriff in 1985. Vernon then published Home Folks in 1989, and Home Folks II-and More in 1999.
Marilyn McGriff, also from the Day community, became the first director of the Isanti County Historical Society. She published the Isanti County Traveler for fifteen years,and compiled those articles into Isanti County Collage. She has many other writings to her credit. Since co-authoring with Vernon in 1985, Marilyn authored Isanti County: Yesterday…Today…Tomorrow, for the 150th anniversary of Isanti County.
Vernon Bergstrom served in the United States Army and was wounded in Europe in March, 1945. In 1951 he graduated from Gustavus Adolpus College, St. Peter, Minnesota, and in 1957 received his Juries Doctor degree from Wiliam Mithchell College of Law in St. Paul. He was a staff member of the Hennipen County Attorney’s Office, a part-time instructor at Normandale Community College in Law Enforcement, and a frequent contributor of feature articles of historic interest in the Braham Journal, the Isanti County News, and The Cambridge Star.
Recently I spoke with Vernon’s widow, Marie Bergstrom, to get permission for use of the “Lory Monster” for our fund raising event. Marie is delightful! She told me Vernon would have been thrilled and gave her permission right away. Thank you Marie! She told me how every year Vernon would sponsor a different imaginative contest, sometimes an essay, perhaps a sculpture. She said she had one of the winners, a carving that still was in the window above Vernon’s desk and that she would like to donate it to the Isanti County Historical Society. She could not, however, remember the name of the winner. She promptly mailed a package to me at the Historical Society along with a beautiful letter and photo of her and Vernon the day they handed the prize to the winning carver.
Last weekend my husband and I drove the planned motorcycle route through beautiful Isanti County. We went past Lory Lake. I saw her, “Lory”. She must have been playing there since the Historical Society was closed. She again lifted her head proudly; she being a sea monster, of course does not have thumbs. But our eyes met and I swear what I saw in her eyes was a huge thumbs-up!
Like everyone else, the Historical Society’s budget has been severally cut, however the costs of taking care of sea monsters is not going down. Please help protect the Lory Monster’s home. The Isanti County Historical Society also houses and preserves many other artifacts, pictures, records, newspaper articles, many other folk tales and stories of course.
Check out the Lory Monster VoiceThread HERE!