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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Tuesday, November 29

The West End Tavern

My memories of Carmen McRae send me back to other times, other places in my misbegotten youth. All my early sexual encounters involved prostitutes. Remember, I was a naïve lad growing up with mid-twentieth century mores. I lost my virginity to a West End Tavern whore named Candy when I was eighteen. The West End Tavern, located across the tracks southwest of town, was a famous, or more likely infamous, house of ill repute (what a quaint way to sidestep “whore house”) in my hometown of Mobridge, South Dakota. It had opened in the early days of the town, around the turn of the century, when the railroad was an important shipper of cattle to the east. And it survived all efforts to close it down by righteous Mobridge citizens. Survived, that is, until those efforts were finally successful in about 1960 and it closed forever. But while it was open, it served salesman and other travelers and the youth and adult lechers of the town. It was a square building, the front door opening into a large central room with tables, chairs, and sofas, and a bar at the end of the room. There were four rooms on each side of the main room, each the bedroom and service area for the prostitutes who worked there. If they weren’t engaged in those services, they would sit in the main room, chatting up and flirting with any drinking customers. The fees were straightforward, $5 for the usual, $10 for the more exotic services, like “half and half” or “around the world.” I needn’t explain those terms for my purposes here. Since most of us had little or no schooling about sex, parents too embarrassed to talk about it except for the standard “Birds and Bees” lecture and no sex education classes in the public schools, the West End Tavern provided a safe place to learn about those birds and bees firsthand. There were still the few teenage pregnancies but not nearly as many as there might have been without the WET (now there’s an appropriate acronym for the place). Once one overcame the embarrassment of going there, the rest was easy. After I got out of the army I spent too much time and money there, seeing one of the girls more than any other. Her name was Robin, about 25, slender and very attractive, and I thought I was in love with her. There it is again, my naiveté. She gave me presents and I gave her money. She gave me a leather-sleaved jacket, she gave me a huge bottle of Russian Leather cologne, she gave me Sinatra’s “Songs for Young Lovers.” She even invited me to meet her in Selby, a small town east of Mobridge, when she took the train home to see her parents. She would get off in Selby and I would meet her there to spend three or four nights in a motel. I begged out, fearing that someone somehow would see us there and report back to my parents. I don’t remember what happened after that. I guess I must have gone to New York for that other strange chapter in my life. I know I never again saw Robin. I don’t remember saying goodbye to her. Just another gray area in my memory. More on this tomorrow.

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