Ft. Lauderdale, Fl USA
There have been many legends penned about the early West
Lawmen and desperados, boom towns, ghost towns and the rest
But one stands out above the rest within my memory...
The hooker with the golden smile by name of Jenny Lee.
The wild west was a very special era of our past
There weren't too many luxuries and life was hard and fast.
In Cottonwood, when days were long and over-filled with stress
The wranglers could unwind at Mary's House of Happiness.
Mary was a lady with a million-dollar smile
Who ran her House of Happiness with dignity and style.
A dozen ladies met the needs of all who had the fee
And, best above the rest, the sweetheart known as Jenny Lee.
Young Jenny was a pretty girl who had a certain flair
Of making cowboys feel special when they entered there.
She treated all with kindness and a sense of dignity
And everyone for miles around all worshipped Jenny Lee.
Piano music filled the house with joy on Friday nights
As cowboys came to sample House of Happiness delights.
A warm bath washed off trail dust and whiskey quenched the thirst
As voices sang in unison old tunes of naughty verse.
He came in on a Tuesday, late in June, as I recall
That stranger out of nowhere that nobody knew at all.
Five decades had carved wrinkles on a face made out of stone
Belonging to the kind of man who always rides alone.
He tied his horse at Mary’s, knocked politely on the door
And Mary smiled they way she had a million times before.
She offered him a drink and asked what might his pleasure be…
He said he came to see the girl the boys called Jenny Lee.
She sent a boy to fetch sweet Jenny, then walked to the door
And led him upstairs to a bedroom on the second floor.
He sat down on the bed and waited, quiet as could be
And, in no time at all appeared the face of Jenny Lee.
She said, “I’m honored, sir, that you would choose to seek me out.
I’m sure you will be satisfied. Of that I have no doubt.”
He rose and tossed a twenty dollar bill upon the shelf
And said, “ There’s just one thing I want –to know about yourself.”
This took her by surprise a bit but one thing she had learned
One never knew the crazy pathways that a man’s mind turned
And if he chose to pay for conversation, that’s ok
She’d humor him and hour or so and then send him away.
“My name is Jenny…I was born in Knoxville, Tennessee.
As near as I can recollect, my age is twenty-three.
I never knew my pa….ma said he was a travelin’ man.
She did her best to raise me up according to God’s plan.”
“Though we were poor, my momma always kept a happy mood.
She hunted game and raised some corn and cabbages for food.
She taught me how to read and write and do arithmetic
And then when I was seventeen, poor mama came down sick.
I wandered after momma died, just traveling around
Until one day I wound up in this little, one-horse town.
That’s when Mary saw me and gave me a place to stay
And that’s the story of my life and why I’m here today”
“Oh, I am not complaining, mister. Men like me a lot
And give me temporarily the love I never got.
I’m grateful for the life I have and I thank God above
For finding me a special place that’s filled with so much love.”
The old man got up slowly and, to Jenny Lee’s surprise,
She saw a trail of lonely teardrops falling from his eyes.
His face took on a saddened look – his shoulders slumped and fell
And she could tell his soul was falling through the depths of hell.
He said, “I’m just a drifter….been a drifter all my life.
I’ve had no time for family or time to take a wife.
I’ve done things I ain’t proud of but I never broke the law
And, Jenny Lee, I had to see you once ‘cause I’m your pa.”
“There was no way that I could know the day I rode away.
Your mama never told me she was in a family way.
She sent a letter ‘fore she died that I got just last year.
I’ve spent this whole time tracking you. That’s why I showed up here.”
“You needn’t say a thing, sweet girl.I’m glad your life is good.
I’d gladly change the past and make things different, if I could
But fate gave us this hand to play and play the hand we do.
I’m glad I finally had the chance to tell you I love you.”
“Tomorrow I’ll be riding out to find a little spread
Where I can build a house and have a place to rest my head.
It’s going to be quite difficult….I just know how to lose
But it is time I plop down and take off these traveling shoes.”
Jenny hadn’t moved a muscle all the time he spoke.
If she had tried to talk, she had no doubt that she would choke.
She saw him bend and kiss her cheek before he walked away
Then heard his footsteps echo out into the heat of day.
The legend has it Jenny Lee just up and disappeared.
Murdered by a jealous wife, some of the townfolk feared
She ran off with a millionaire, some other folk opined
Some others thought the fever got her and she lost her mind.
One young boy said he saw her in a buckboard with some guy
Her arm around his shoulder, smiling as they passed him by
But no one paid him any mind….a childish fantasy
Yet there was never found a single trace of Jenny Lee.
Mary’s House of Happiness still packs them in at night
As cowboys put their money down for fantasy’s delight
And, right above the fireplace, placed for everyone to see
There hangs a picture ofthe sweetheart known as Jenny Lee.