Five Cards and a Cathouse is a humorous, light-hearted, coming-of-age tale of a young boy’s life, marinated in several of central Oregon’s tiny cowtowns before and after World War II’s Pearl Harbor attack—history brought alive at the home front level. There are also occasional family forays to the “thriving metropolis” of Portland (Oregon) and the World's Fair in San Francisco, California.
Narrated by teenager Hamilton Skutt, whose life is complicated by a Latino man, tells his story with a voice that is at times willful and filled with salty language fed by raging thoughts. The Mexican shows up at odd times to leave a playing card meaning what?—warning?—threat?
Skutt tells of romantic experiences, family dynamics, details of life in the thirties and forties, wartime upheavals, and recollections of the movies, songs, comics and radio shows of that era.
The book’s title stems from an Old West custom of legal cathouses (brothels) in western cities to save local ladies from cowboys in town looking for a good time.
This is a fascinating “page-turner”!