Posted on March 28 2016, by Gladys Breckenridge
There is no denying the Wolfpine Lake has attracted some strange characters over the years. There was old man Graeber himself, the outlaw Marcus "Mad Dog" Carney, and of course Bart Noble, the railroad baron who founded our lodge.
But the oddest figure of all, was arguably Tobias "Red Light" Nussbaum. He arrived in Graeber's Landing penniless, with nothing but the clothes on his back, magnificent mutton chops, and a thick German accent. Rumour was he had deserted from the Prussian Army of Kaiser Wilhelm, wanted for beating his commanding officer with a giant bratwurst. Others claimed he had been an Austrian prince, hiding from a string of Albanian and Mexican wives.
His first venture in town was to set up a gambling den with a promiscuous red light over the door (those were simpler times). That made him a small fortune, which he invested in a hot air balloon. He would give rides, two for a nickel, up and down over town (they say you could see Devil's Head Lake from up there). His plan, though, was to use it to smuggle liquor over the border. Unfortunately, Nussbaum didn't realize the prevailing wind tended to prevail in only one direction. He was found several months later, under a lean to made from balloon silk, surrounded by crated of rum, near the source of the Pineroot River (that lake bears his name to this day).
Later, sober, and slightly more law-abiding, Nussbaum decided his destiny was political. He ran for Graeber's Landing mayor, and won a landslide victory. Observers suspected the kegs of free liquor and the over-stuffed ballot boxes may have had something to do with it. Regardless, his reign was considered a golden one, and when he finally succumbed to madness, the citizens took up a collection and had a large bronze statute erected in the main square, of Mayor Nussbaum on his penny farthing bicycle, a crate of liquor strapped to the back, and a Hamburg on his head, his mutton chop side burns blowing in the wind.
Many of his stories can be found on our Burnt Point Lodge map.