Archive for the ‘giraffes’ Tag

A Tall Tale   Leave a comment

As told through the eyes of Woodrow “Woody” Wilson Nickel, West With Giraffes is Lynda Rutledge’s fictionalized account of the 12-day road trip from New York City to the San Diego Zoo on the Lee Highway in 1938.

Looking back from his vantage point of living more than a century, Woody is suddenly compelled to share his experience as a 17-year-old helping transport the giraffes cross country. He’s enthralled with the long-necked beasts at first sight. They’re something neither he, nor many others, have seen before.

When he learns the giraffes, whom he names Girl and Boy, are en route to California, the Oklahoma-born and raised Woody is determined to make the trek with them. Initially, he’s turned away by Riley Jones (affectionately referred to as Old Man) in charge of getting the giraffes to the zoo in a custom-made truck.  Old Man eventually agrees to temporarily hire Woody, but only for a short distance. Augusta, aka Red, who aspires to be a Life magazine photographer, is the other major character.

Rutledge has crafted an exciting adventure rich with descriptions of the country’s people and landscapes. The former represent the best and worst; the latter reflect abundance and scarcity.

There’s tension as Woody worries Old Man will make good on his word to find another driver and whether or not the animals can survive the journey. Old Man gives directions, Woody drives the truck, which is (somewhat) surreptitiously followed by Red, across country, and all want to leave something behind.

West With Giraffes

Four-and-a-half Bookmarks

Lake Union Publishing, 2021

316 pages, includes epilogue, author’s note, historical notes and acknowledgements