Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Homegrown



Jennings, Matt with Jessica Battilana. Homegrown. Photographs by Huge Galdones. New York: Artisan, a division of Workman, 2017.

Chef Matt Jennings, owner of a Boston area restaurant and former owner of one in the Providence area, offers recipes showcasing New England foods with a bit of a twist. The book provides commentary about New England foods as well as Jennings' life and career. The recipes are generally not for those who want things that can be prepared quickly. They tend to be for those who truly savor cooking. Many of the ingredients may be difficult for persons in some parts of the country to locate. The book is beautifully illustrated by the photography of Huge Galdones.This review is based on an advance review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an unbiased review. I attended a webinar about forthcoming cookbooks in which the publisher's representative offered to send advance review copies to any attendee through NetGalley or Edelweiss.

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Murder in Montego Bay



Lennon, Paula. Murder in Montego Bay. London: Jacaranda Books, 2017.

Lennon penned the first in a series featuring Jamaican detective Raythan Preddy assisted by visiting Glasgow (Scotland) detective Sean Harris. Together they solve the murder of a wealthy Ellis family member. The Ellis family includes Chinese ancestors. The case involves narcotics. Readers question why Harris is in Jamaica and never find the answer. The author overuses Jamaican dialect in conversations. While the author accurately describes Jamaica's impoverished and wealthy residents, it is difficult to connect with her characters. While I appreciated the setting, the book is too gritty for my mystery reading tastes. Readers who enjoy grittier books will rate the book higher than I did. The publisher provided an electronic Advance Reader's Copy through NetGalley with the expectation of an unbiased review.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Twelve Slays of Christmas



Frost, Jacqueline. Twelve Slays of Christmas. (Christmas Tree Farm Mystery, no. 1). New York: Crooked Lane Books, 2017.

What a fun cozy Christmas mystery! Holly White returns home to Mistletoe, Maine after a failed engagement, just in time for the 12 days of reindeer games hosted on her parents' farm. Unfortunately Margaret Fenwick, head of the local historical society, is killed right on the farm, and Holly discovers the body. Holly can't help but investigate, which brings threats to her and her parents. I really enjoyed this light mystery which includes a spark of romance between Holly and Sheriff Evan Gray, a Boston transplant. I enjoyed many of Holly's friends. This one has a lot of potential as a series, although if murders continue at Christmas each year, I doubt anyone will be wanting to visit the reindeer games. I look forward to the next installment of the series and may try some of the author's "Kitty Couture" mysteries written under the name Julie Chase. I received an advance review e-galley from the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

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Death Overdue



Brook, Allison. Death Overdue. (Haunted Library Mystery ; 1). New York: Crooked Lane, 2017.

Carrie, a floating librarian at a Connecticut public library, decided it was time to move on when opportunity knocked on her door. While her uncle, a member of the library board was partially responsible for the opportunity, library director Sally offers her a permanent position in programs and events. After a brief consideration, she decides to accept the job and begins looking for a home. At the first event, set up by the librarian who moved away, the detective who failed to solve a case years before and suddenly claims to have solved it dies. A cookie unlike any purchased for the event bore the poison. Carrie and the son of the woman murdered years before set out to solve the crime. Carrie soon discovers the ghost of a former library director resides in the library. Only a few people see her. The ghost proves helpful to Carrie on a number of occasions. While I really don't like paranormal elements such as ghosts, this one is beneficent. I think it's a cute Halloween installment, but I'm not sure it will work long-term as a plot device. I fingered the murderer pretty early, but the author crafted several red herrings. I'll probably read the next installment. I received an advance uncorrected e-galley from the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Reading the Census when Indexes Fail to Locate the Individual

Monday night my persistence paid off.

As I reviewed information on Judd Emerson Leys, my second cousin once removed, I noticed a gap in my records for him. I lacked his 1940 census entry.

I knew he should be residing at 236 West Wood Street in West Lafayette, Indiana, where he was enrolled as a student at Purdue University. He resided there according to city directories from 1939 and 1943 already located. I also knew he continued to live at that address after graduating from Purdue and taking a job with the university as a store keeper.2

I searched in the 1940 census for him in Tippecanoe County. I tried the search by Leys only, by Emerson only, and by Judd only. All searches failed. I located the correct enumeration district for his address using the descriptions found at the National Archives' 1940 census web site.3 I found the pages for the enumeration district were slow to load at the 1940 census site, so I went back to Ancestry to locate the enumeration district and begin a page by page search for his street address. At the bottom of the 30th image (of 40) for the district, I found him. The enumerator used his middle name as his surname and his surname as his first name. He recorded an incorrect middle initial. My cousin was hiding as "Leys L. Emerson."4

Ancestry offered no record suggestions for this census, either on my tree or on records already located for him. Apparently I was the first Ancestry user to persevere and track him down with information I knew. I'll try to locate additional city directory information to fill additional gaps in my research of Judd until his death of "cardiac insufficiency" due to "muscular dystrophy" on 6 August 1957.5 Judd was buried in the Olio Township Cemetery in Eureka, Woodford County, Illinois.6


1 For 1939, see: Polk's Lafayette (Tippecanoe County, Ind.) City Directory 1939 Including West Lafayette and Tippecanoe County (Indianapolis, Ind.: R. L. Polk, 1939), p. 216, entry for J. Emerson Leys; digital image, "U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989," database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/2469/10875429?pid=559176424 : accessed 25 Sep 2017; requires subscription). For 1943, see: Polk's Lafayette (Tippecanoe County, Ind.) City Directory 1943 Including West Lafayette (Indianapolis, Ind.: R. L. Polk, 1943), p. 309, entry for J. Emerson Leys; digital image, "U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989," database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/2469/10882246?pid=559931621 : accessed 25 Sep 2017).
2 Polk's Lafayette (Tippecanoe County, Ind.) City Directory 1943 Including West Lafayette (Indianapolis, Ind.: R. L. Polk, 1943), p. 309, entry for J. Emerson Leys; digital image, "U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989," database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/2469/10838027?pid=555046495 : accessed 25 Sep 2017; requires subscription).
3 National Archives, 1940 Census (https://1940census.archives.gov/search/#searchby=location&searchmode=browse&year=1940 : accessed 25 Sep 2017). Search criteria included Indiana as state, Tippecanoe as county, and West Lafayette as city. Click on "descriptions." See description for ED 79-35 which covered Ward 1 of the city.
4 1940 U.S. Federal Census, Tippecanoe County, Indiana, population schedule, West Lafayette, Ward 1, SD 2, ED 79-35, p. 166B (stamped), 236 West Wood, visit 416, line 77, Leys L. Emerson; digital image, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/2442/M-T0627-01099-00350?pid=53171610 : accessed 26 Sep 2017; requires subscription); citing National Archives microfilm publication T627, roll 1099.
5 "Tippecanoe County, Indiana, Death Certificate no. 57-487 (state no. 57-027547), Judd Emerson Leys; digital image, "Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011, database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/60716/44494_351194-00743?pid=4754564 : accessed 25 Sep 2017; subscription required)."
6 Find A Grave (https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=73315305 : accessed 25 Sep 2017), memorial for Jud Emerson Leys (1913-1957), memorial no. 73315305; citing Olio Township Cemetery, Eureka, Woodford County, Illinois.(

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

This Side of Murder



Huber, Anna Lee. This Side of Murder. New York: Kensington, 2017.

Verity Kent goes to an English island with some of her husband Sidney's acquaintances from the war. A letter accusing her late husband of treason caused her to go. She discovers the men are hiding something. A coded message is found in a book that belonged to Sidney. The gardener was a man Verity knew well, and his presence adds an interesting twist to the situation. I tolerated this book. The plot was just too convoluted. It reminded me of locked room mysteries, but it was not as well-written as many of those. I received an electronic advance reader's copy from the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Life and Times of Martin Luther



Roth-Beck, Meike. The Life and Times of Martin Luther. Illustrated by Klaus Ensikat. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2017.

Publishers are issuing many books on Martin Luther as we celebrate the 500th anniversary on the Reformation. Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenburg Church October 31, 1517. The action led to one of the greatest religious movements in history--the Protestant Reformation. Roth-Beck has written an engaging account of Luther's life for younger readers. He explains the religious culture of the time, how Luther came to be a monk, and how his studies led him to question the teachings of the church. The illustrations by Ensikat are well-done. There is a key to the illustrations at the end of the book, explaining each in further detail. While some younger readers would not be able to handle some of the vocabulary terms on their own, the book would make a great read-aloud book for parents to read and discuss with their children. The book will be very useful in Christian schools and home-schools. Even though it is aimed at a younger audience, it would provide a good overview for teens and adults interested in learning about Luther. I received an advance review copy of this title through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program in exchange for an honest review.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder



McDowell, Marta. The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Frontier Landscapes That Inspired the Little House Books. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, 2017.

Author Marta McDowell takes readers to each location Laura Ingalls Wilder and her husband Almonzo lived, discussing things present and things omitted from the books. The book shows Laura's connection with the land, demonstrating the importance of agriculture in the era in which she lived. The book designed to celebrate the 150th birthday of the author is well-researched but written at a level most fans will enjoy. Its carefully selected illustrations add to the reading experience for the fan. The book would make a great gift for those reading the books for the first time or for a lifelong Laura Ingalls Wilder enthusiast. This review is based on an advance electronic galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

An Echo of Murder


Perry, Anne. An Echo of Murder: A William Monk Novel. New York: Ballantine, 2017.

The murder of a Hungarian man whose shop faces the river brings Monk and his Thames River force to the scene. The crime is horrific--extremely violent, an act of hate--and accompanied by 17 candles, two of which are purple, and the smashing of Roman Catholic icons. A man, aspiring to be the leader of the Hungarian community in London, is first on the scene. His alibi is airtight. The man is very observant. Communicating with the Hungarian population is problematic.

Monk and Hester's adopted son "Scuff" is apprenticed to a doctor, coming in contact with Fitz, a doctor who served with Hester in Crimea. As the body count grows, the pressure to locate the perpetrator increases due to the growing unrest of the Hungarian community.

I do not read every installment of the Monk series, but I enjoyed this one very much. While any experienced mystery reader will be able to predict some of the action, certain aspects of this installment will keep readers interested. It held my attention--something most books failed to do recently.

I received an advance review copy from the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

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Strange Scottish Shore


Gray, Juliana. A Strange Scottish Shore. New York: Berkley Books, 2017.

In 1906, the Duke of Olympia and his assistant Emmeline Truelove are called to the Orkney Islands to investigate an artifact purported to be a Selkie skin. Along the way, some important papers are stolen from Miss Truelove on the train. This book failed to draw me in and hold my attention. I found it confusing from almost the beginning. Some parts are simply too unbelievable, and others are missing connections needed to help readers process the action. Perhaps someone who enjoys the fantasy genre more than I do could make the needed stretches. I abandoned the book about 40% of the way into it. I received an electronic galley of the book for review through NetGalley.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Common People



Light, Alison. Common People: The History of an English Family. London; New York: Fig Tree, an imprint of Penguin Books, 2014.

Historian Alison Light provides an excellent and readable venture into her own family's history, deftly demonstrating how one incorporates social history, local history, religious history, and more, to make ancestors come alive. She provides several very quotable phrases scattered thoughout the volume, certain to resonate with researchers adhering to the genealogical proof standard. My biggest complaint pertains to the "invisible endnotes" system employed by the editors. Readers deserve to know when something is being cited. The acceptable way of doing this is to provide a numbered footnote or endnote. I find the method employed by the editors lacking. In some places the author's aversion to religion manifested itself through condescending remarks. In other places where the opportunity presented itself, she refrained from such comments. This restraint maintained a bias-free environment in those portions of the narrative. Overall the book provided a commendable example in family history writing. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Death of a Busybody



Bellairs, George. Death of a Busybody. Scottsdale, Arizona: Poisoned Pen Press, 2017.

Inspector Littlejohn of Scotland Yard is called to assist DC Harriwinkle in the village of Hillary Magna when the village "busybody" Miss Tither is murdered. She displayed a "holier than thou" attitude and aimed to make people repent of their errant ways. Lots of people, as you can imagine, have motives, and a recently changed will provides an interesting twist. Suspicion even falls to the vicarage. Bellairs' carefully crafted plot will cause many to second-guess or change their minds along the way about whodunit. My biggest problem with the book is the naming of charcters. I'm not certain how intentional it was, but I felt the author was finding a way to belittle the church with his names. I'm glad British Library is bringing back these classics, and I thank Poisoned Pen Press for providing an advance readers e-galley for review purposes.

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Monday, September 04, 2017

Alison Light on the value of local history (and the FAN Club)

I'm reading (and digesting) a book by historian Alison Light focusing on her own family heritage. Yesterday I shared a quote on Facebook from her book. Today I want to share another, but here on the blog.

Unless it is to be simply a catalogue of names, the history of a family is impossible to fathom without coming up for air and scanning the wider horizon. Once the branches proliferate, families become neighborhoods and groups, and groups take shape around the work they do and where they find themselves doing it. Without local history to anchor it, family history is adrift in time.--Alison Light, Common People: The History of an English Family (London: Fig Tree, an imprint of Penguin Books, 2014), 31.

I want my ancestors to be more than just a name. Local history and social history provide context, breathing life into them. My ancestors interacted with others in their neighborhoods and communities. I need to research them. My ancestors worked. I need to find what they did and the social context for that job. If my ancestor was a farmer, what did he grow? What was the soil like in that region? What did others grow in the area? Did weather impact his yield? That's just a few question I could ask. While my progress in Light's book is not far, she demonstrated the needle-making industry in the area her ancestors resided and compared their business to others in the area engaged in the same industry. She discussed the typical jobs in the needle-making industry. It made her grandmother's family come to life for the reader.

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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Genealogical Advice from 1899

Yesterday Blaine Bettinger wrote about the relevance of an article in a 1910 issue of the Record for today's researcher.

Later yesterday I stumbled across an 1899 book in our library. In the opening chapter, the author's remarks could apply to today's researcher:

But one must, in the beginning, resolve to go wherever the progress of the work may direct, and to make a faithful record of all that is found. This is the only way to secure all the pleasures and advantages of the inquiry. The pleasures are many and not a few of them arise from surprises that one meets in the course of the work. The advantages are proportioned to the completeness of the information obtainable. To select for record that which pleases the fancy, or indulges pride of distinction, and to ignore or to suppress what may seem commonplace in our progenitors is to be untrue to our ancestry and to ourselves. Such a method results in a view of one's origin that is distorted, and therefore misleading.1
We need to present our ancestors as they were, not as we wish they were. We need to interpret their lives through the lens of the times rather than modernity. We need to be as proud of our farmers as our community leaders.



1 William Stowell Mills, Foundations of Genealogy with Suggestions on the Art of Preparing Records of Ancestry (New York: Monograph, 1899), 1-2.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Encountering the History of Missions



Terry, John Mark and Robert L. Gallagher. Encountering the History of Missions: From the Early Church to Today. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017.

The authors take a different approach to teaching the history of missions than the traditional approach used by textbooks such as Neill's History of Christian Missions. Instead of a strict chronological approach, they look at movements influencing Christians to reach the world. It thus becomes a more theological and philosophical approach than the traditional manner the subject is taught to undergraduates. The book is better suited to graduate-level courses in the history of missions as it lacks the ability to create interest for persons without a prior one. The use of documents and writings of the persons involved is commendable. The authors' coverage includes effort of the church growth movement of the late 20th century. Questions for discussion and reflection are included, mainly in sidebars, but occasionally in the main text. A lengthy bibliography is included. I received an electronic advance review copy of the book from the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Plume



Simler, Isabelle. Plume. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2017.

I love this book! A cute cat is exploring his feathery friends. The artist does a wonderful job capturing just a portion of the cat in each photo while teaching about birds and feathers. It's whimsical and a great book. I received an advance review e-galley for review purposes through NetGalley, but I loved it so much I pre-ordered a copy of the hardback.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Bibliomysteries



Penzler, Otto, ed. Bibliomysteries: Stories of Crime in the World of Books and Bookstores. New York: Pegasus, 2017.


As with most collections of short stories, some resonated more with me than others.

"An Acceptable Sacrifice" by Jeffery Deaver - Mexican drug lord with a weakness for books. Not my thing.

"Pronghorns of the Third Reich" by C J Box - A couple of men kidnap a lawyer who won a case involving one of the men and his grandfather. Books play a role, but I don't want to give away the plot.

"The Book of Virtue" by Ken Bruen - A lot of short choppy sentences that create a tale a bit too "noir" and full of crude language for me.

"The Book of Ghosts" by Reed Farrel Coleman - A story born out of a World War II fabrication of a "Book of Ghosts."

"The Final Testament" by Peter Blauner - Sauerwald visits Freud in Britain, discussing Freud's books, a manuscript Freud is writing, and one Sauerwald himself wrote. It gets bogged down in places.

"What's In a Name?" by Thomas H. Cook - An old schoolmate visits Altman carrying a manuscript. Book has an interesting twist.

"Book Club" by Loren D. Estleman - Guy who collects rare books is murdered.

"Death Leaves a Bookmark" by William Link - Excellent mystery featuring Lt. Columbo as detective.This was my personal favorite in the collection.

"The Book Thing" by Laura Lippman - What's going on with a series of book thefts in a Baltimore children's bookstore? Tess helps discover what's going on and finds a way to prevent it in the future. I liked this one a lot.

"The Scroll" by Anne Perry - Mystery centers on the discovery of a scroll, written in Aramaic, with unusual properties.

"It's in the Book" by Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins - Mike Hammer is entrusted with a finding book or ledger believed to exist. Spillane is not my typical mystery read, but I liked this one a lot.

"The Long Sonata of the Dead" by Andrew Taylor - This is set in the London Library. There's a man having an affair. I'm really not quite sure what to make of this one. It's just weird.

"Rides a Stranger" by David Bell - A college professor returns home for his dad's funeral, making a surprising discovery about his father's literary life.

"The Caxton Library & Book Depository" by John Connolly - A man witnesses what appears to be a re-enactment of Anna Karenina. Then he witnesses it again. His investigations of the strange matter lead him to the Caxton Library.

"The Book Case" by Nelson DeMille - Bookstore owner is killed by a bookcase falling on him. It appears an accident to most, but the detective discovers wedges holding the case in place were removed. He interviewed suspects and solved the case.

My favorite stories were not those written by the authors I typically read and enjoy. Readers may discover they wish to give a chance to a "new to them" author or to one who may be a better writer now than in earlier days.

I received an electronic advance review copy through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2017

The Address



Davis, Fiona. The Address. New York: Dutton, 2017.

An architect selects a girl working in a London hotel who saved his daughter from a deadly fall to manage the Dakota, a residential building, opening in New York.  Although it seems in the middle of nowhere, development is headed that way. Fast forward almost 100 years. A newly rehabilitated girl is given the opportunity to renovate the family apartment at the Dakota. She's a descendant of the architect although her cousin received the inheritance. While the story line held promise, the author failed to weave the story in an engaging manner. For me, starting with the modern piece and then going back in time would have been preferable to chopping the story up. The revelation of what she discovered could have occurred in the end or it could have been revealed. I would have kept reading. As written, I struggled to plod through it.

The writer used passive tense too much. The book's editor failed to correct the problem.

I received an advance electronic copy of the book from the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.


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The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books



Edwards, Martin. The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books. Scottsdale, Arizona: Poisoned Pen Press, 2017.

Don't let the title mislead you. The book discusses far more than 100 mysteries. It does, however, provide a little more depth of coverage on about 100  titles. The book is intended as a companion volume to the British Library Crime Classics series. It arranges the mysteries into categories by the types of mysteries they are. (For example, locked room, vacation spots, manor houses, etc.) Mystery lovers are certain to find a few books they missed through the years to add to their to-be-read lists. Fortunately the British Library Crime Classics series is making many of these readily available for a new generation of readers to discover. I received an advance electronic galley of the title from the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.

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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Shelling Peas

I stopped at a farmer's market in northern Georgia near the North Carolina border on my way home from Institute for Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR) yesterday. I purchased corn, red potatoes, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, peaches, tomatoes, a Vidalia onion, okra, and purple hull peas.

I shelled the peas this afternoon. It evoked memories of sitting under the shade trees at my dad's Aunt Fannie Mae's or in my paternal grandparents' living room with paper bags for the hulls and large bowls in laps which held the peas. Everyone shelled peas as we conversed. Our fingers and nails turned purple. I did not enjoy doing this as a child, but as an adult, I appreciate the activity's relaxation. The sweaty work of tending the peas and picking them in the hot sun was done. Shelling them in the company of family and friends was a pleasure at the end of the hard work.

As I picked over the peas, in the same manner my mother taught me, it brought back memories of standing over the kitchen sink--sifting through them while looking for peas with worm holes or other defects which made them undesirable for eating. Mom taught me the difference in worm holes and discolorations so I would not toss more peas than necessary. We sorted each mess at least three times. How I'd love to do this with her once again!

I look forward to eating the fruit of my labor, even if I didn't grow them myself! Tomorrow's menu will include the peas, hand-breaded fried okra, sliced tomatoes, and cornbread. I'll cut a little onion into the peas. Dessert will include peaches--perhaps a cobbler or peaches and (ice) cream. I'll probably add some pan-fried potatoes if leftovers remain. Southerners eat well when the summer harvest comes!

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