Christian Lorentzen writes:

It started with the jitterbug, or with a ketchup bottle. Kathleen Maddox couldn’t get away with dancing in her hometown. Ashland, Kentucky in 1934 was too small, and if she let a boy hold her hand word would always get back to her mother Nancy, a strict Christian widow. But across the river was Ironton, Ohio, and there she could dance at a club called Ritzy Ray’s. That might have been the place she met Colonel Scott, a small-time local con artist who made his dimes collecting tolls from drivers crossing a free bridge. When Kathleen got pregnant, Scott told her he’d been summoned away on military business. In fact, he was a civilian (Colonel was his given name) and a married man. Kathleen gave up waiting for him and found a husband, William Manson, employee of a local dry cleaner. They moved to Cincinnati. She named the baby after her dead father, Charles. She was 16.

(LRB 7 November 2013)

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