By Jesse Lilienthal, Paula Mitchell Marks
Malinda Jenkins was born in 1848, the daughter of a subsistence farmer in Kentucky. Showing spunk early, she pridefully refused to attend school without the right textbooks and escaped as soon as possible from a large family that had "too much religion" and too little else. With her third husband, Jenkins, the professional gambler, she bounced all over the West, from Wichita Falls to Oregon City to Tacoma to a lumber camp in Washington. She operated a beauty parlor in San Francisco and more boarding houses while Jenkins prospected for gold in Alaska, and in 1897 she crossed the Chilkoot Pass and joined him in Dawson, where they ran the Sour Dough Saloon. Later on they owned a racing stable. When writer Jesse Lilienthal met her in 1930, Malinda was a widow in her eighties who spent every afternoon at the racetrack. Here is her lively story, told to Lilienthal and long out of print until now.