The Girls of the Golden West

The Girls of the Golden West

The Girls of the Golden West

The Girls of the Golden West


The Girls of the Golden West tells the tale of ninety-five-year-old John Quincy Adams the Second (no relation to the famous historic figure), who meets a graduate student named Annie Baxter and agrees to help her write a history of the culture of the South by sharing his experiences through the decades. The redheaded Annie looks just like Liz Denney, one of John Q.'s old lovers, which immediately endears her to him. After welcoming Annie to the small, fictional town of Bodark Springs, he shares hours of stories on Annie's tape recorder, with little prompting along the way. John Q.'s memories follow histories of love and jealousy, misunderstanding and murder, giving a picture not only of Bodark Springs, but also of Texas. Meanwhile, John Q.'s inner dialogue reveals secrets of his own, including the long months he disappeared in order to protect his family from a deadly threat. Author James Ward Lee easily carries readers through this humorous cultural pilgrimage of the West. While John Q.'s pace of life is slow, his mind is razor sharp and keeps readers on their toes, waiting for his next harmlessly bawdy joke or flare of seriousness. The Girls of the Golden West is ultimately a story of finding love for other people and for one's homeland. From the first moment John Q. bemoans opening his door for nosy townsfolk, readers come face-to-face with a blend of wisdom and fun that will keep them coming back for more.


I make it a point never to answer my door. Nothing good ever comes of it. It’s nearly always somebody wanting to sell magazine subscriptions or paint my house number on the curb or get me signed up for one of the new off-brand churches that seem to be springing up all over Bodark Springs.

Last night about 7:30 the knocking became so insistent that I peeked out behind the curtains in the front room and saw three women who showed no signs of going away. the two I recognized were Ruby Lathem and Frances Bailey, old students of mine from long ago and now stalwarts of the Eastis County Historical Society. I didn’t get a good look at the other woman, but I was pretty sure she was the graduate student from ut who wanted to interview me. Ruby had bored me for years. She was tedious back when she was a student at John Bell Hood High School. Now she droned on at every meeting of the local historical society. If a thing could be talked to death, Ruby was your woman.

I knew I was in for it, but I opened the door wide and said, “Evening, ladies, please come in.”

Frances was widely known as Ruby’s sidekick. Frances is Smiley Burnett to Ruby’s Gene Autry. She probably sings about as well as old Smiley too.

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