Richard Gartee

Ragtime Dudes in a Thin Place

Ragtime is new, Victorians are out, and free love is on the rise.
New York dandies Bryce, Jack, and Morgan open an emporium in the nascent art colony of Taos, New Mexico, promising to bring metropolitan culture and the latest wonders from the St. Louis World's Fair. The problem-none of them knows how to run a business. Free love? That they understand. Soon, the handsome young New Yorkers meet freethinking women ready to test the mores of a new century.
With too little capital, their venture struggles until a leading member of Taos society begins holding teas for her inner circle at their store. But just as the business starts to thrive, the ladies usurp the tea parties to hire a Protestant pastor and are sent a recently ordained Universalist minister.
Calamities pile up. The Universalist's sermons don't go over well in Catholic Taos and the ensuing religious conflict hurts the emporium's business. Meanwhile, the men lose a lucrative Gramophone deal, and while Morgan's trying to fix that, they get shaken down by a brothel owner. Then, Jack's landlady dies, leaving him responsible for her nearly grown daughters. Oh yeah, and Bryce quits to join a peyote cult.
Yet even as the partners fail at transforming Taos, Taos begins to transform them. And by the time the emporium goes belly up, they are ready to start their lives over again.

336 printed pages
Original publication



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