Was One of the Blog’s Readers Actually in a McGee story?

One of the blog’s readers was in touch with me recently with a fascinating query. Lynn N. wanted some help trying to find a passage that she thinks is in one of the McGee tales. It’s of particular interest to her, because she believes it was inspired by her own encounter with a man who may have been JDM himself. Here’s what Lynn wrote me:
I was nineteen years old in 1965  and was working in San Francisco. As I was departing a bus on Market Street, right at the Del Webb Townhouse Inn, I looked over and saw a familiar face. I didn’t recognize the man immediately, but knew the face. So I waved, as it is rude (where I was raised) to ignore an acquaintance.  He was an older man, wearing a smashed up hat, and had a very penetrating gaze.
In later years I read a Travis McGee book and he mentioned a tall, good-looking girl, climbing off a bus, a white skirt foaming about her knees. “She smiled and waved at me, then danced off down the street, the sun following her.” ( I am paraphrasing the text I remember.)  I realized then that I must have seen Mr. McDonald. He was one of the first writers I’d ever encountered who liked tall women, and I certainly was in that category!
Sadly I don’t remember the name of that book, but I am hoping you can help me to find out which it is so I can get a copy.

So if anyone recognizes that passage, please leave a comment for Lynn. I’m eager to know the answer, too.

 

 

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11 thoughts on “Was One of the Blog’s Readers Actually in a McGee story?

  1. i think this is the young woman in One Fearful Yellow Eye. McGee is in Chicago, and happens upon a woman. they briefly acknowledge each other with a glance, and then keep going. the description looks about right.

  2. I believe the passage she remembers is in One Fearful Yellow Eye, the 8th book in the series which was published in ’66. McGee is in Chicago. The lady in question makes his day.

  3. I recall he was complaining about how SF wasn’t beautiful any more; had been ruined. Hmmm. Thinking. “Green” was on the West Coast, as were the two dealing with the film starlet.

  4. …At the corner of Huron something that was entirely girl came swinging along, and wrapped the whole thing up for me. Nearly six lithe feet of her, and unmistakably great handloomed tweeds in conservative cut, lizard purse and walking shoes and hair chestnut-brown and gleaming with health, styled with no trickery, bobbing to her resolute stride, and one gloved finger hooked through the string of a parcel wrapped in gold foil paper, and on her mouth a lovely secret smile, perhaps part memory, part anticipation, and part appreciation of the day and of the good feel of taking long strides, and part being lovely and young. There is something about seeing one like that which tries to break your heart. You will never know her, but you want it all to be great for her, all the parts of it, the wine, the weather, the food, the people, the beds, the kids, the love, and the being old.

    Macdonald, John D. (2013-01-08). One Fearful Yellow Eye: A Travis McGee Novel (p. 56). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

  5. Ok. We haven’t read all these McGee books without picking up a few detective tricks.

    First, it has to be a book written after 1965. Also, McGee is visiting a downtown somewhere, so that narrows it down.

    I thought of “One Fearful Yellow Eye,” McGee’s visit to Chicago, and came up with this – 1993 Ballantine print, pg 46

    “So I walked in the sunlight, and appreciated all the lovely ladies, and looked at the rich goods in the rich store windows. They had strung their Christmas lights, thousands and thousands and thousands of tiny white transparent bulbs festooning the bare branches of the trees which, by some oversight, still remain standing along Michigan Avenue. At the corner of Huron something that was entirely all girl came swinging along, and wrapped the whole thing up for me. Nearly six lithe feet of her, and unmistakably great handloomed tweeds in conservative cut, lizard purse and walking shoes and hair chestnut-brown, and gleaming with health, styled with no trickery, bobbing to her resolute stride, and one gloved finger hooked through the string of a parcel wrapped in gold foil paper, and on her mouth, a lovely secret smile, perhaps part memory, part anticipation, and part appreciation of the day and of the good feel of taking long strides, and part being lovely and young. There is something about seeing one like that which tries to break your heart. You will never know her, but you want it all to be great for her, all the parts of it, the wine, the weather, the food, the people, the beds, the kids, the love, and the being old.”

    Not exactly as described by Lynn, but I can’t recall McGee ever commenting on someone getting off a bus, as his visits to downtown areas were so infrequent

  6. As I recall, McGee did not care for Chicago. Neither do I, particularly these days; but that is indeed one lovely passage and a homage to the girl and the city. The man could write like few others can.

    • Absolutely agree. I recently finished reading ALL the published pulps – was great to see the evolution. Given my particular career, I found “Clemmie” to be by far the most frightening!

  7. Lynn N here–thanks for the helpful hints. In re: the lovely girl in Chicago, I’ve never worn expensive tweeds in my life, but I agree she must have been striking for Mr. McDonald to memorialize her. I’m wondering now if she ever realized she’d been so honored!

    I think I’m going to have to reread the series, concentrating on the last few. Should be kind of fun. Thanks to the blog writer and all the nice folks who responded. I’ll let you know if I find the passage.

  8. Wow! A great story and wonderful followup comments. And yes, John D. sure could write up a storm. I treasure these beautifully detailed nuggets he wove into his stories.

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