Scandal and slavery by Lake Minnetonka: An interview with Eric Dregni
It is home to mostly year-round residents who have torn down quaint vacation cottages for lakefront McMansions or renovated them to keep their charm.
But there is another side to this vacationers’ delight. And Eric Dregni’s new book “By the Waters of Minnetonka” reports little-known facts, stories of opulence, sizzling scandal and some unpleasant history about the summer hotspot.
Dregni’s book covers such things as the destruction of the early Native American mound builders’ burial grounds and fights with the Dakota tribe for land. He reports on the illegal slaves brought to the lake in the 1800s to harvest ginseng, and on a sex scandal involving the architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
He notes the Lake Minnetonka store that inspired “You can’t always get what you want” by the Rolling Stones. And he tells the tale of the 2005 “love boat” sex scandal, leading to misdemeanor charges for four Minnesota Viking football players.
Dregni is an associate professor of English and journalism at Concordia University in St. Paul. Minn. He authored Minnesota Marvels; Midwest Marvels; In Cod We Trust; Never Trust a Thin Cook and Other Lessons from Italy’s Culinary Capital; and Vikings in the Attic. Recently he discussed his most recent publication with Great Lakes Echo.
Great Lakes Echo: I know you are familiar with literature because you are an English professor, but what made you want to get into actually writing books?
Eric Dregni: “I stumbled into writing about Italian motor scooters for my first book and discovered that I loved the research and writing involved. In the end, I can hold the final result in my hands – and put that part of my life on the shelf, literally.”