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Tucker, Wilson – “The Tourist Trade” (1951)

02/14/2013

A less successful attempt at humor, essentially a ghost story with time-traveling tourists from the future responsible for the haunting. And what do we get when we have a story about people from the future? Hilarious misunderstandings of our own time, of course:

“This race were called Indians, or Americans, the two terms being interchangeable. Sections, or tribes, existed among them and each tribe adopted the name of some patron saint, protective god or robber baron to whom they paid monetary and honorary tribute. Their tribes sometimes bore colorful names like Ohio, Dogpatch, Jones, Republican, and so forth.”

This is not the most effective way of historicizing the action here, but the homeowner’s response is about as perfectly mid-century American as you can get: “You’re a radical,” Donald exclaimed. “Now get out of here or I’ll put the dog on you!”

After a number of run-ins with these tours invading his home, Donald capitalizes on his problem the good old-fashioned American way and starts charging the public to come into his home to observe the “ghosts.” Of course he also tosses in some insults for the tour guide while he’s at it:

“He’s a legend connected with the house,” Donald exclaimed glibly. “According to the story, this fellow in the uniform was an eccentric inventor who used to live here but he finally killed himself. They story says he was a 4-F but he wore that uniform to ease his conscience; he always claimed to be inventing war machines for the government.”

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