MEETING TRAVIS 1

MEETING TRAVIS

THERE ARE MORE THAN  50  LETTERS AND COUNTING...


Travis McGee fans like to tell about their first reading of  Travis , and how they happened to pick up the book in the first place.  If you have a story to share send it along to me. (cbranche@earthlink.net)


                                                     ***************


For me, it was my first year of teaching in a small, old, mill town (Danielson) in eastern Connecticut.  Being quite poor I found a used bookshop just over the railroad tracks, where I  could pick up  paperbacks quite cheaply--as little as a nickel in some cases.


That's when I began the journey  which has lasted lo these many years.


BTW, in the dumb move of the century, my wife and I attended the 1983

Bouchercon where JDM was given the Grandmaster Award, and I met Walter Shine, who on Sunday invited us to cocktails with the MacDonald's and the Shine's.


We demurred--and get this--because we had to drive back to Massachusetts and prepare for teaching the next day.


Now, do you think I don't regret that stupidity on frequent occasions???


                                                                                                        --cal branche



                                                    ******************



I found Travis in a jail cell.  I was arrested for P.I. in Alpine, Texas, back in 1971 ( a bogus charge, since I was in the back seat of an automobile at the time, being driven by a kid who was drunker than I was.  Unfortunately, the cop knew everyone else in the car, except me and the only I.D. I had on me at the time was a New York State Driver License and my Draft Card, so you can imagine how that went over).  In any event, I wound up doing two weeks in the Brewster County Jail, where I read everything in sight, except this one book, that had the first thirteen pages missing.  Last day in the place, I finally relented and picked it up.  Turned out to be One Fearful Yellow Eye.  Couldn't put the damn thing down.  First thing I did, when I got out of jail, was go to the nearest book seller (which, back then, was the local newstand at the corner Drugstore) and, miracles still happen, found the book.  Not only did I read the missing thirteen pages, but read the entire book through again.  Since then, I have read every MacDonald I could get my hands on, including all his short story compilations, Sci Fi novels, The House Guests, No Deadly Drug and A Friendship:the Letters of Dan Rowan and J.D.M..  But, of all his writing, the Travis McGee series remains paramount in my eyes and I have read it through at least three times now, though a few of the books I have read no fewer than ten times. 


Rich Black


                                    ************************


I was in my teens and in the Library looking for something to read

and saw all these books with colors in the title. So I thought to

myself-self try these out and of course that was the day I met Travis

McGee. Being older and "wiser" now I can understand them more and love the prose and humor and truth of MacDonald and the enviromental

problems that have just gotten worse ...John is spinning as we speak!

                    

                                                                                                --Wanda  Watkins


                                                     ****************

I first met Travis through my father (way back in the early 70s). He was a huge reader and had bookcases full of JDM. My first was Blue and Trav struck me as the kind of guy who stood up for people who couldn't stand up for themselves. After a couple of others in that same vein (some dumbass gets ripped off and trav helps them for a fee), I got ahold of was Green and I was totally hooked. It showed a personal aspect to his "work" that gripped me. Blue and the others had me thinking that he would help people who were too stupid to help or take care of themselves and in the process make a nice chunk of change for himself, but seeing him embark on this one, just to cure a hole in his heart/soul and to watch him say goodbye to his past (possibly for good), opened a whole new area of emotion for him.


From Green on, I latched on to every color and developed a whole new respect and love for Travis.


                                                                                                        --Jerry Schmitt


                                                    ******************


I came across TM back in the mid 70's, came across Turquoise in the

local Library and was immediately hooked. McGee appeared as a

totally credible character ( unlike bond etc)that was clever,

resourceful and tough, but at the same time had vunerability. It

wasn’t till the late 90's when I was able to fulfill a life ambition

and finally own all 21 books and be able to read them in order. As

mentioned previously, it wast till I was older and reading them more

recently that i saw and understood what a clever word smith JDM was.

In more recent times I have started to enjoy the Doc Ford series by

Randy Wayne White, Ford isn’t a million miles away from Mcgee,

certainly in the earlier books, that said, in a more recent book I

did think that Ford was becoming a little Ramboesque, but maybe

that’s just me. White is not too well known in the UK (IMO, so any UK

members reading this should give him a try, but start with the

earlier books. ( sorry for turning this into a RWW promotion)


                                                                                                        Mark

                                                                                                        United Kingdom


I owe it all to a broken filling, went to the dentist and picked up a

Sports Illustrated while I was waiting. There was an article by Carl

Hiaasen, I found the article so interesting I started searching for

other Hiaasen writings. Somewhere in one of the things I read he

mentioned that JDM was a big influence, so, I looked up JDM, within 3 or 4 months I had read them all.


                                                                                                          --fs



                                            ******************



I was searching amazon for a Carl Hiaasen book, and it said something

like 85% of the people who bought this book also bought The Girl In

the Plain Brown Wrapper. So I clicked on that, and when I saw that

Hiaasen had written the intro to it, I bought it. I was immediately

hooked - this was about 15 years ago. I proceeded to read all the TM

books, in no particular order. I then started to read the other JDM

books. A few months ago I was able to acquire almost every book JDM

wrote in a single lot. I then decided to read all his works in the

order they were published. I started with The Brass Cupcake and I am

currently reading Border Town Girl.


                                                                     --Larry Martell

                                                                    Albuquerque, New Mexico


                                            ****************


Around the time the first Austin Powers movie came out I caught an interview with Mike Meyers on E! where he said that growing up his mother was a big fan of the Flint movies, James Bond and Matt Helm who he called the American James Bond. The Dean Martin movies were before my time so I googled Matt Helm and I found this page which makes it clear that the book Matt Helm is much different than the movie Matt Helm.

 I continued googling Matt Helm and found him mentioned in the same breath as Travis McGee ("Once you've finished with Matt Helm and Travis McGee you might like X character"). I decided I'd buy both characters' series on Ebay, scooped up two big JDM lots which between them had the complete McGee run and I still haven't read Matt

Helm.


                                                                                                    - Jim Henke

                                                                                                      Newington, CT


                                            ***************


OK, well I was looking for books on my parent's bookshelves and was skimming through books to see if they caught my attention and low and behold, there were these books that had a bunch of cities and places I knew of. I was hooked right away although a lot of what he was talking about in parts of the book were over my head at 11 years old, the parts about the demise of Florida were right up my alley!

 

                                                                                                    Bec Figini- Jacobs


                                            ***************


I joined the old Detective Book Club - they of the custom 3-in-1 omnibus - and Turquoise was one of the three. Liked it enough to track down some more and got hooked.

                                                                                                            Jud Cole



                                            ***************


Back in 1989 I was taking a course in mystery-writing, and along the way the teacher and I went out for coffee after one of the classes. I wondered who his favorite authors were and he rattled a few off, including JDM. I'd never heard of the guy and my teacher was amazed . He told me to get off my butt, and track down a Travis McGee yarn. Pronto. I had a gift certifcate from Barnes & Noble and--among other items--picked up a Travis McGee yarn. I arbitrarily picked "Grey," but I didn't read it until I was on vacation a few months later. That was it. I was instantly hooked. 


Anyway, I decided that with just 21 McGees available, I wouldn't burn through them quickly. I read one new McGee each year (more or less), plus three or four that I've read before. There are three left that I've never read (Tan, Cinnamon, & Gold). This summer I'm just reading later books, and plan to read them through in order beginning next summer. I also have about 40 non-McGees on hand, and am working my way through those, as well.


                                                                                                        D. R. Martin


                                                **********


Well, I was working as a swamper for the sanitation department in 1989. Someone had thrown away a perfectly good copy of A Tan and Sandy Silence. So I kept it and started to read it as my "Bathroom book" at work. I was hooked and the book quickly followed me out of the bathroom and accompanied me everywhere I went for the next three days. I then read the rest of the series as quickly as I could locate them and devour them. I read them as I found them and not in any chronolgical order. The last one I read (after long seeking a copy of it) was Reading for Survival. I treasure them all.


                                                                                                Dan Weston, 

                                                                                                Fullerton, California



                                            ***************


My degree is in Math/Physics and never was interested in reading much beyond nonfiction books and articles.  That is, until I was teaching in Zeonghen Liberia West Africa, a village about 150 miles in the bush, and had purchased one of the Travis McGee books on our last trek to the big city of Monrovia. Why I picked a MacDonald book I have no idea, but am very thankful I did. In many ways, I give MacDonald credit for me keeping my sanity during those years when my wife and I were the only "quee" (sp.??, but it is Liberian for civilized) folks for many, many miles.


Being retired now, I have again picked up my collection of McDonald books, mostly the Travis series and am again enjoying them, probably as much as the first readings.


I now live in the mountains of NC but am a Florida native who went the large sailing boat route for a few years previous to moving here.  For this large expense of funds and in some ways it was quite adventurous, I lay partial blame/credit to Travis and his Busted Flush.


Anyway, it is nice, yea, very gratifying, to see McDonald getting some of the credit he is due because of his writing talent.  



Keith Lathrop


As an aspiring writer in the early '80's, I bought a book on writing called Maybe You Should Write a Book by Ralph Daigh.  In one chapter he talks about JDM and how he wrote feverishly upon getting out of the service, papering his walls with rejection slips.  I had never heard of him or TM, so I went directly to the public library and grabbed the first JDM book I saw, which happened to be the Purple book. Needless to say, I was distracted from my writing for several months, as I read every TM book I could find.  My wife had to remind me to get back to my own writing. The dialogue between TM and Meyer was addicting and delicious.  My mind conjured up images of Meyer and TM which I have to this day. 

 JDM was a courageous writer and man.  He has impacted my life.

 Regards,

Dan Myrum 

                                 ******************************

Hi,


 I just found this web site. I was telling my wife of 1 year about John D's Travis McGee books last night. I turned 62 the 12 of this month. I was a marine engineer sailing tankers 34 years. On a ship the only way to survive with sanity is the act of reading. I read every book by this man I could get my hands on over the years at sea. The guy could paint a person,place,situation,or even an emotion and tell the story in a way to make me hesitate putting the book down,afraid I was gunna miss something. LOL. This is a great site.Thanks so much.


Jack Daniels 

                    **************************


In the late 1980s, like millions of other British citizens I was unemployed. Looking for a cheap (preferably free!) and enjoyable way of passing my increased leisure time. Consequentially, my reading went up from one or two novels a week to almost one a day.

One of these novels was a dog-eared paperback, picked up for 10p in a charity shop, called Dress her In Indigo. To say I was hooked somewhat understates my reaction. The Marlowes, Spades and Archers of this world are OK, but I could never identify with them. Between them, Travis and Meyer seemed admirable templates for the way men ought to live their lives.

Most admirable was the lack of conventional ambition (up the greasy pole) with the accompanying lack of materialism. 

Macdonald was way ahead of his time with his environmental concerns and understanding the true value of leisure.

Nowadays it all seems to be about 'standard of living' rather than quality of life.

My favourite novel is The Long Lavender Look. Lilo is a femme-fatale like no other.

Bruce Hatton

Sudbury in Suffolk, U.K.


We had become just friendly enough to converse easily, so it was a surprise when, one evening, she asked if I would walk her home when the library closed. As it turned out, she was being harassed by an ex-boyfriend and was in need of an escort. It wasn't until we had reached her home that I actually saw the guy. We were sitting on the porch steps when he drove by in a car full of buddies. But he didn't stop, and I've never dwelt on the incident. But apparently Tanya felt that the jerk drove on without stopping simply because I was there.

 

A few moments later, she said as she passed me a glass of lemonade, "Thanks, Trav. The only thing I can give you half of is this." She toasted me with the whole pitcherful.

 

Since she knew that my name wasn't Trav, I had to ask what on earth she was talking about. And she explained about John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee.

 

It wasn't until weeks later that I realized that this was in fact the same John D. MacDonald whose books I had years before shoplifted more often than any other from the paperback rack at the drugstore as I walked home from church, youth group, and choir practice. Way back when the price of paperbacks was 20 to 35 cents.  

 

Upshot: I've known about and enjoyed the works of JDM for about 50 years and started in on the Travis McGee books shortly after he first appeared. I've re-read the complete series several times since then, but it's been more than 15 years now, mainly because I was for so long unable to separate the chaff of sexism from the wonderful story-telling.

 

While cleaning out the garage a few weeks ago, I came across the 17 that I have in paperback and, beginning another re-read, am dismayed that I waited so long! And I now carry in my wallet a memo with the 4 missing titles, hoping to find them at a yard sale or thrift shop.



Roger Baden


Travis McGee and JDM played a huge part in my early years. My father introduced me to the series in a last attempt to get me to read consistently. It worked better than a Meyer investment idea. I have often wondered if there was an F-18 and hoped to understand more about Travis and JDM.



After a 20 year hiatus, I have recently picked up a couple of Travis McGee books and reread them with joy and commitment – as fresh and interesting as the 3-4 times I devoured them in my teens. I am 52, my son 10, and only a couple of years away from our own introduction.



Thank you so much for the site and the memories!


Best regards,


Ford Goodman


                    **********************************



I was in 10th grade, Athens High School (Georgia).  Between classes I greeted my friend Harry Rudy.  Under his arm were a few textbooks, and on top was Nightmare in Pink.  The cover art showed a nude woman, sitting, with legs crossed so that she was just the decent side of showing pink.  The prurient side of me sparked the question, “What’s that book about?”  Harry’s answer:  “It’s a series about a guy who steals from thieves.”  I immediately thought, “series,” “guy who steals from thieves,” Christ, anybody who can steal from thieves and live to do it for a series must be one clever dude.  Of course I read them all, repeatedly.  One of my favorite McGee quotes (roughly), “Arthur Wilkinson was a bore.  What’s a bore?  Someone who deprives you of solitude without providing you with company.”   



Sincerely,


Gary Towers


                ****************************************


Since it was a training command, there was no library at the base in Pensacola in the mid-1960s. There was, however, a municipal library.



Tanya, one of the assistant librarians, wore horn-rimmed glasses and had a snaggle tooth. She certainly wasn't ugly, nor was she plump, pleasingly or otherwise. But neither was she at the high end of any of the scales by which a sailor might measure such things. But my own tastes at the time tended more toward brains and geniality than to measurements or availability. (It wasn't till I was transferred overseas that that all changed!)



We had become just friendly enough to converse easily, so it was a surprise when, one evening, she asked if I would walk her home when the library closed. As it turned out, she was being harassed by an ex-boyfriend and was in need of an escort. It wasn't until we had reached her home that I actually saw the guy. We were sitting on the porch steps when he drove by in a car full of buddies. But he didn't stop, and I've never dwelt on the incident. But apparently Tanya felt that the jerk drove on without stopping simply because I was there.



A few moments later, she said as she passed me a glass of lemonade, "Thanks, Trav. The only thing I can give you half of is this." She toasted me with the whole pitcherful.



Since she knew that my name wasn't Trav, I had to ask what on earth she was talking about. And she explained about John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee.



It wasn't until weeks later that I realized that this was in fact the same John D. MacDonald whose books I had years before shoplifted more often than any other from the paperback rack at the drugstore as I walked home from church, youth group, and choir practice. Way back when the price of paperbacks was 20 to 35 cents.  



Upshot: I've known about and enjoyed the works of JDM for about 50 years and started in on the Travis McGee books shortly after he first appeared. I've re-read the complete series several times since then, but it's been more than 15 years now, mainly because I was for so long unable to separate the chaff of sexism from the wonderful story-telling.



While cleaning out the garage a few weeks ago, I came across the 17 that I have in paperback and, beginning another re-read, am dismayed that I waited so long! And I now carry in my wallet a memo with the 4 missing titles, hoping to find them at a yard sale or thrift shop.



Roger Baden


Hi there,

 

Briefly...

 

My Travis McGee story is a sad one - for me.

 Some years ago I was writing a tale about an older, resourceful ex- Guards Officer, who lived alone on a boat. He was able to move around the UK easily and he was self-employed as a 'Man Friday', a general purpose kind of guy. He got sidetracked into solving people's problems.

 

I wanted him to have the 'Robin Hood' spirit and not to make oodles of cash from his exploits. Sound familiar?

 

It was whilst researching for the book, that I found a couple of McGee novels. I had never heard of McGee at the time. I read The Deep Blue Good-by.

 

Naturally, my story has never seen the light of day. I don't think I could do any better, if anywhere near as well, so that's a relief for everyone!

 

Regards

John Alfred




My sister turned me on to Travis in the 1970s. I started with Nightmare in Pink, the second in the series, and was hooked. I collected and read them randomly, and re-read while waiting for the next. At some point in there I read them -- and reread them -- from book one forward, so at the time JDM died I was intimately familiar with the sequential history of our loose-jointed, scarred-knuckled tilter at windmills ... the man of my dreams.

 

Over the years I started reading the whole series again, about once a year, sometimes in order, sometimes at random. I can usually close my eyes and recite the next passage, but Travis never flags, never fails to delight me.

 

I recently started writing mystery books myself, and JDM has been my greatest and best influence and inspiration. John D. MacDonald is one of those authors you pray will never quit or die. But I'm grateful and happy that Travis found peace first, and hope JDM did too. I suspect he did.  

 

Sabrina Scott, Nevada



I was thinking about TM today, so Googled JDM, and found the site.  As a great fan of McGee, I would like to share with you that I first read a TM book in my early teens in Lansing MI, and I am 44 now.  I read "A Tan and Sandy Silence", a book my Uncle Jim had when I was in the tenth grade. Needless to say, I was hooked.  It was not until I joined the service that I could actually collect and read them all.  Since then, I have gotten a couple friends to join in on the experience.  As is the theme of most that share their stories....It only takes one book for the reader to realize that he or she must read them all.  I sure wish there were just one more, the final book where TM explores his relationship with his daughter.  Anyway....


Thanks for the chance to share

Sincerely,

John K. Lenon

Colorado Springs


                        ******************************


Hello!  Found your JDM website and thought I'd tell you how I found JDM and Travis.  


I fell in love with a Travis McGee type (though I didn't know it at the time) in 2007.  As we were getting to know each other, he mentioned that his favorite author was JDM.  Butch was killed in Dec., 07.  One of his friends told me he loved the Travis McGee series, so I found the set on Ebay and started reading.  Needless to say, I am hooked.


It is also interesting to me that I am gaining so much insight into Butch by reading these books.  Butch graduated from HS in Ohio in 1969 and, after a year or so of jaunting all over the world, settled in Fl. and sold sailboats for 20 years with an attitude much like Travis'....when flush with money, quit working til you need more!


I am enjoying the books and plan to read more JDM when I am done with the TM series.  His writing is just incredible and so full of casually-tossed-out truths....Thanks for your website!  


Kathi Conner, 

Mt. Pleasant, OH



Hello to all of you Travis McGee fans. I was a long-haul commercial truck driver from 1990-95. I am now in management in the office of the company I drove for. Believe it or not, I have never read one page of any Travis McGee book.


During my first year of driving, I discovered that an excellent way to pass the time going down the road was audiobooks. One day I was looking through the audiobooks rack at a truck stop and I came across one entitled "The Long Lavender Look" by John D. MacDonald.


The artwork on the box was eye-catching and the synopsis on the back of the box sounded very good, so I purchased the 2-cassette book on tape. That was the "fastest" 3 hours I had ever driven up to that time. The book was so well written, phrased, and plotted, and Darren McGavin (who read 19 of the 21 books) was such a fantastic orator, I couldn't hardly believe that I had covered about 180 miles (our trucks are governed at 62 mph!) so quickly it seemed. I was hooked.


There are several audiobook services at truck stops where you can rent a book at one truck stop for usually a week and then drop it off at another later on down the road. I rented quite a few other audiobooks with other authors (Sue Grafton's alphabet murder series is quite good also) and different genres, but I BOUGHT the Travis McGee books for keepers! Over my 5 years of professional driving, I purchased all 21 books on cassette. Kevin Conway read the other 2 books (Darker Than Amber and Cinnamon Skin) and he is very good, but he's not Darin McGavin! Darren really makes Travis come alive. Darren McGavin IS Travis McGee.


I was very sorrowed when he passed away in 2006. I enjoyed him in the motion picture "The Natural" as well.


Travis (Darren) and I covered many, many, many miles together. Even after coming off the road and into the office, my wife and I still listen to ol' Travis' adventures when we go out of town for an extended trip. Alas however over the years, the tapes had begun to deteriorate, but my wife and kids rescued me this past Christmas. They gave me an LP/Cassette machine that converts records and tapes to CD!


In my spare time since receiving the CD recorder I have just about completed converting all my beloved TM audiobooks to CDs and now that I have them in digital mode (and have backed all of them up on a flash drive) they are preserved forever. I am now enjoying them without worrying if the tape player will "eat" the tape or if the tape will break. If there are TM audiobooks available commercially on CD, I have not been able to find a website that offers them, and I have searched quite earnestly over the years. So you can imagine my elation when I was given the machine to put them on digital mode.


                                                                                Don Banta



Dear Cal,

 

We first stumbled across JDM on our first trip to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware in the summer of 1975.  We went into Browseabout Books and saw a Travis McGee display.  We read The Dreadful Lemon Sky, and we were hooked.  We caught up with the others and began buying the new ones as soon as they came out.  The Empty Copper Sea remains our favorite, and I'll never forget buying The Green Ripper in National Airport on a business trip and (quite literally) watching Gretel Howard die-- it left me with a sadness that took a long time to go away.  In rereading it, I reflect upon our experiences watching our daughter die suddenly and unexpectedly of a brain hemorrhage in 1993...  they were very similar to McGee's experiences and feelings in the book...  I think I can remember where we were as we read each book.  Since then, we've read most of JDM's other books and short stories and are lucky enough to have a couple of signed books and a few letters that he wrote to friends.  In 1997 we visited Fort Lauderdale for the first time and spent spring break there with Lynn and Georgie.  I was very, very nervous about visiting Bahia Mar because I was afraid there might not be a slip F-18.  This may sound strange, but it was almost a journey to Mecca.  Thank God there was a slip F-18!  We celebrated Kim's 40th birthday with champagne right there!  I'm sure people thought we were crazy...

 

I am GM of a Ford dealership here in Easton, Maryland, and for many years, I quoted Travis McGee in special ads.  Nothing about cars-- just about life.  Many were published in The Tidewater Times which has both a local distribution and subscription base.  I made friends all over the country from those ads-- I think JDM's words touched many hearts.

 

Sincerely,

 

George Hatcher



I read a great deal of JDM's work during eight years of residence in Saudi Arabia in the seventies and eighties. I remember making his acquaintance in the fall of 1978 picking up one of his McGee novels in a small library of some excellent paperbacks left behind by some guys in a villa in southwestern Riyadh. 


One of my all-time fave writers, JDM was a dude one fell in love with immediately as a reader, for his deeply spell-binding prose. When he died in late December of 1986 I felt a harsh loss as I thought of all the hours of pleasure I had derrived from this fascinating story-teller possessing an incomparable writing style that built such awesome Florida images in my mind which to this day remain so vividly and shockingly real. 


I just finished re-reading his sprell-binding novel CONDOMINIUM which I picked up on an impulse last month as I came across it again in the local library. The man's relevance is intact and alive and he remains an awesome icon of American modern literature. I feel we will see a great revival of his idiom ... an American prophet's vision of the chickens which have now come home to roost.


Glad you guys keep it up ... thanks.


Ed M.

 

                                        ********************************



Well, honestly I've enjoyed reading all genres of fiction and nonfiction over the years.  I've also been a long time aficionado of Jimmy Buffet's music and lyrics.  In 1981 Jimmy laments the loss of John Wayne and heroes in his life with the song "Incommunicado".  The song is well- crafted and opens up with the line "Travis McGee's still in Cedar Key, that's what John McDonald said...".  I was clueless to its meaning until one evening more than fifteen years later.   While visiting a local used book store there it was, the unabridged versions of five Travis McGee books inside one hard -bound edition.  The song lyrics sprang to life in my brain and I sat down on the step stool there in the aisle and read for half an hour.  I've read it numerous times and have shared it with friends as well.  What a treasure to have stumbled upon!  Sounds like it's time to find copies of the remainder of the Travis McGee series for my library.  Thank you JDM and JB.

Danny Shaffer

San Antonio, TX

              “Lucky me”


Back in 71, I contracted waterproofing condo exteriors in Venus, FL.  I could not find a place for rent and was staying in a motel in Sarasota. I was in a restaurant on Siesta Key and mentioned to the bartender that I was going to be in Florida for six months, and was looking for a place to rent. He gave me directions to a place about a mile down on the inland side of the key and said it was the last house on Crisp Point, and the lady living there was renting the guest house. I found the place and the lady was home. I forgot her name, but she was an artist who designed and made ceramic tiles. 


She showed me the guest house and I thought it was great.  It looked like a houseboat.  It had a deck all the way around it and the back deck went out over the water. There was one large room and a small bathroom with a shower.  The large room had two sets of bunk beds attached to the wall which the lower bunks acted as sofas in the day. 


There was an elevated, round, wood burning stove in the center of the room, and a small kitchen with a dining table next to a glass sliding door that looked out over the deck for a beautiful view.  I gave the lady two months rent and moved in that day. This was a paradise set in palm and banana trees. 


I love to fish and the back deck sat over a natural Snook hole.  I would put a lantern on a pole and hung it out over the water.  In the late evening, the light would attract the Snook and I would pull in my limit whenever I dropped my line. 


 We had an unusually cold winter and one morning I went to the wood closet that was on the outside deck wall. I found the wood logs and a pile of old newspapers. In the back was a stacked pile of paperback novels. They were all John D. MacDonald novels. I grabbed a couple with the fire wood and took them inside. I was thinking about using the novels as kindling to get the fire going, but had second thoughts after reading the introduction to April Evil.  I got the fire going and began reading.  I could not put this book down until I finished it.  After that encounter I read the rest of the wood- closet novels.  I especially enjoyed the Travis McGee novels and got a real education about Florida in the process. 


 I found out later that I was living in John D’s guesthouse and part-time studio. He had sold the house because he could not have privacy.  The street had a turn around at the end of the point and he could not gate the road for privacy. People were always knocking on his door for autographs and he felt the security of his family could be threatened. I have read all his works and am still looking for the rumored last novel. (The death of Travis McGee)  I will never stop looking.


Gary Chambers          


How nice to find that you have a section devoted to this. It means I'm not the only person who remembers this kind of thing.  ;-)


My career dream was to work in the airline industry. I got my first airline job with a small carrier named TranStar (formerly Muse Air) in 1986. One day I was assigned to the 'transfer point' or 'T-point', where luggage arrives on the conveyor belt that carries it from the ticket counter. There an employee loads it onto the appropriate cart depending on destination. It was the proverbial feast or famine; when several flights were checking in you really had to scramble to keep up but between departures there was nothing to do except sit at a battered old desk someone had dragged down there and stuck in a corner. So one day, bored to tears, I opened the desk drawer and found treasure: a paperback copy of The Lonely Silver Rain. Two pages in I was a MacDonald fan for life. It never bothered me that I read the last one first and soon I had acquired and read every last McGee tale. All these years later, I've read each of them several times and he is one of my top three or four favorite authors along with Hiaasen, Arthur Hailey, and Robert Serling.  


Thanks for all the work you've put in on the website. It's very entertaining.


Russell


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During a well deserved break ,from dental school, to my good friend Jeff's house in William's Bay, Wisconsin I came across a book, The Empty Copper Sea and started reading it.  I ended up absconding with it much to Jeff's displeasure.  He got it back the following week but I was hooked on Travis McGee and have read every one.  Last summer I reread them from The Deep Blue Goodbye to The Lonely Silver Rain.

 

Steve Hillesheim

Palatine, IL


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I first met Travis McGee back in 1983.  I was the crew librarian onboard USS SUMTER (LST 1181), stationed in Little Creek, Virginia.  We were out at sea and I opened up a shipment of new paperbacks and right on top was a book called, The Green Ripper.  It sounded intriguing and I put it aside for myself to read.  Once I started getting into it, I finished it over the next 2 days.  I was hooked.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, the library had 7 or 8 of his other adventures already on the shelves.  I now proudly own every volume of his stories and have every story on audio book as well. 

 

S. R. Dawson

                         ****************


I can't say for sure the year I discovered Travis McGee but it was sometime in the early 1980's. I was somewhere around 13-15 and drove my bike to the mall during the summer. Wandering around I found myself at a B Daltons and was perusing through the displays when I chanced upon A Tan and Sandy Silence. It was from the Signet editions that were small and all the covers were white with a small, color picture relating somehow to the story. 


    I cannot remember what made me decide to purchase it. At this point in my life I was not a prolific reader and didn't chose books by authors so much as what sounded like a good story. But this book somehow resonated with me. I liked this McGee's style and attitude. The words flowed much better than anything I had read before.


     Being young I just assumed there would be a limitless supply and there was no rush to read them or concern myself with who John D. Macdonald was and his station in life. I read others from the series here and there in high school, in no particular order. I was accepted at the University of Florida and headed off to Gainseville to study.


It was there that I realized how much I loved these books. While taking classes and reading many "literature" writers and "classics" it dawned on me how well John. D's works held up. I tore through the series and started to read his other books. At some point I found out that John D. had died recently. I was chagrined to learn that he lived so close to where I grew up and that when I discovered him earlier in the decade he was nearing the end of his life. 


I regretted not paying more attention and somehow felt a lost opportunity to honor him while he was still alive. Having learned a bit about the type of man he was, I know he probably wasn't receptive to fans dropping in, but I thought maybe he would have got a kick out of a kid-fan. But, as MacDonald once wrote (or possibly quoted), sentimentality is unearned emotion.


 I am now 43 and still read-- and re-read --his work. Every now and than I stumble on virgin material. Just today I found "Reading for Survival" on the web. I knew this existed but never read it and had no idea it was set in a McGee format. What a pleasure to read that first paragraph and have it begin much like a McGee novel. 


I now have many authors I read but John D. has never been unseated as my favorite. And this is in spite of the many, for lack of a better word, shortcomings of his books. His plots were pretty simple, the romantic relationships a bit cheesy, the bad guys cardboard cut-outs- but that voice, the observations, the philosophy of what counts, of being alive and the finality of death- nobody did it better.


Gordon Hammond, Portland OR


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I picked up my first Travis McGee novel when I was 14 or 15 as a second hand paperback from the 60s with great artwork on the cover. It was The Quick Red Fox.  I then rediscovered Travis in my late twenties after my PhD in English literature and that was the point when I started appreciating how good those books actually were. Ever since I have been rereading them every couple of years and they still give me tremendous pleasure.

 

Dr. Thorsten Krings

                *****************************


Sadly not too spectacular a story. A boss I worked for told me about the Travis McGee series and I was hooked from the start.

The primary outfall from that association (aside from enjoyable reading) was a conversion of the local lunchtime places to Plymouth Gin. (Tanqueray had previously been the gin of choice). Now this was a time when the three martini lunches were in fashion. Very soon all the local eateries knew when we arrived to greet us at our table with a Plymouth Gin over ice with the rim of the glass rubbed with lemon peel and the twist squeezed over the ice (but then thrown away). 


We never tried it with the sherry pre-rinse.  It took a while to get all the places to stock Plymouth but our regular consumption (and 'conversion' of guests) made it worth their while.


But that was just about Travis.


The expansion of interest in JDM's work came some time later on a vacation in Sierra Nevada mountains at a lodge owned by the Sierra Club. We were staying for a few days and I went into their library looking for something to read and found The Last One Left. Of course I couldn't finish it in the few days at hand so I (hate to admit it) 'borrowed' the book and took it home. Some time later I felt guilty and while not telling the Sierra Club why, I made a generous donation to the Club. (In my mind that was 'atonement'). At any rate that was the first of the non-Travis books and became the foundation the collection of the rest. (Which I have to this day).


Mea Culpa.......


Gordon

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I first encountered McGee and his inventor JDM in 1971 when I was a young medic in Viet Nam.  There was a program that involved people in America donating used paperback books to be read by soldiers in Viet Nam.  I was waiting to get on a Huey to go back out in the jungle for 12 days (after 2 days in the rear) and I picked up a paperback called  The Long Lavender Look . 


I began reading and the narrator (Travis McGee) told of driving down a highway at night in Florida and being on the lookout for raccoons, not wanting to run over one.  And he said urban Florida was using the rabies myth to get rid of them, and the areas where raccoons were wiped out were soon overrun with snakes.  Anyway, MacDonald wrote something like:  "The average raccoon is cleaner, thriftier and more intelligent than the average meathead who wants them wiped out."  And I was hooked, right on the spot, then and forever.  Long live Travis McGee, Meyer, and I wish John Dann MacDonald was still alive.    


--Terry Mongoven 


Cal – Back In January of this year I was out sailing in a 50 ft mono hull out of Tortola. One of my bags had been misplaced before we left the docks, the one with several books along for the ride.

I love to read, “ as RAH once wrote, “I would read in my sleep if I could keep my eyes open”. I grew up in southern Missouri in the 1950’s without TV. We had books and radio and plenty of imagination coming from both. Anyway, tucked into a corner of a locker was a copy of “Reading for Survival” which made me laugh because I was going through the boat hoping to find something to read.

 

I have always liked a variety pack of series works and when I got back to NYC I went into B&N and found the Travis MacGee series. I am one book away from finishing only because it was not among the others. They carried the first several and then I had to turn to a local Mystery shop, Partners & Crime, to find a few more but even they could not find Copper Sky and Lonely Rain, which I have found through the internet. I am halfway through Copper Sky and expecting to come home to find Lonely Rai wedged in my apartment door by Wednesday.

 

Thanks for hosting this site and allowing fans to contribute.

 

Ted

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Hi, I just read your "meeting Travis" story.  I was crushed when I read that you had the opportunity to meet him.  This is how life often is.  Many times we are not at the right point in our lives when opportunity knocks.  Though living with regret is pointless, I believe I both envy and pity your experience.  At least you had the chance to meet one of .. if not "the" greatest author of that century. 

 

I met JDM for the first time after he passed away.  I was offered "A Key To The Suite" by a librarian whom I had come to know over the years. He gave the book to my wife and told her that he recommended the "book".  Not the author .. .the book.  I read it and instantly loved everything about JDM's style.  My next book was "Slam The Big Door" and I was encapsulated with a heavy melancholy even before I finished the book because I  had  read in another source that JDM had passed away .  


I am a lover of boats, and I knew that JDM was going to be a part of my life from that point forward.  My greatest regret is that I never had the chance to meet the man whose books I know collect.  I love many authors, Neslon Demille probably being my second favorite, but I only collect JDM's writings.  I do not normally like series type books, but figured since Travis was a boat lover as well, I would give it a try.  Well, it did not take me long to move through the colors.  I have read them all twice and am desperately trying not to read them as quickly, savoring each book and saving each book for summer months and occasions when I am next to the sea. 

 

My wife and I are also teachers and plan to retire in a few years. I plan on living aboard a boat full time (though my wife will probably want a house or apt of some sort in some port).  I plan on re-reading every single color several times starting with my first day and continuing until I am finished with this life. JDM has enriched my life, my imagination, and my longing for boats and the sea in general. I'm always glad to meet someone with equal appreciation.  

 

Perhaps one day we might meet over a glass of Plymouth .. .(or Boodles if Meyer's taste suits you), and a Charatan (I have several in my rotation)... or even an ice tea as truth be told I am not much of a drinker these days.

 

I am in Pennsylvania, and we keep a place in Delaware on Indian River bay.

 

Sincerely,

 

Brian Kinn


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I met Travis McGee in a literature course at the University of New Orleans in 1982.  I needed an elective and there were two courses available in the time slot I needed.  They were Classical English Lit and Detective Fiction.  Guess which one I selected?  That class introduced me to an entire genre of literature that I have loved to this day. 


 It started slow (The Gold Bug, The Moon Stone, etc.) but picked up rapidly.  I met Sam Spade (Hammett), Philip Marlow (Chandler), and the detectives of the 87th Precinct  (McBain) among others in that class.  But the most memorable character I met was Travis McGee .  


We were required to read The Green Ripper and I remember reading it almost at one sitting (I’m a slow reader).  I have read all of the TM series I can find – over and over again.  It almost feels like I know Travis, like I could sit on the Busted Flush with him and Mayer and hold forth about the sins of land development. 


 I, too, have lived in Florida and even as a child, felt it was being destroyed (I returned to central Florida a few years ago and cried at what I found there).  It leaves me with a melancholy feeling to know that Travis died in 1986.  I’m sure there is sweeping narrative or a gripping plot in that thought for someone with the skill to develop it. Alas he died with Travis…

 

Regards,

 

John Spencer

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I I was 17,  living in Wichita Kansas, dreaming  the life of the seas and the mountains, I knew I did not belong in some mid-western state! Picked up my first T. McGee paperback with no cover on it at some thrift shop. Yes, I was reading my perfect dream life in all the following adventures of T.M.. Each volume just fueled my need for the boat life, beach and sea. I have been a South Floridian for many years now, Thank you very much John D. I never regretted moving here, Now 60 years of age, and having gone down some pretty rocky paths in life myself, I have always treasured the escapism, the cleverness and wisdom that John D. infused in the T.M series. These are works of literary art to be read over and over when the spirit calls. Between Travis McGee and the Jimmy Buffet songs, I was gladly doomed to a life on the seas and shores of South Florida.


                                                            Jack Nichols

                                                             Cape Coral, Naples Fl.

  As a young man in a banal and frustrating existence, J. D. M's books provided me escape and provoked me to think and even spurred me on to man up and pursue my dreams. The dichotomy and even juxtaposition of a man of depth and honor as a lawbreaker and mixture of hero and antihero created by Mr. MacDonald, is a great contribution to literature. As a reader of Poe, Doyle, and Robert Heinlein, I have been blessed with countless hours of stories that fill me with pleasure and thought. They added a dimension to my life that many of my peers and acquaintances (even friends) don't identify with or understand.

   I just reread  The Lonely Silver Rain and after crying when I should know better, I of course wondered if there was any resolution in the form of posthumous manuscript, etc. ad infinitum, ad nauseum, and ended up reading your comments on Wikipedia. Your explanation and Maynard MacDonald's letter were profound and amazing. I'm sure that you and others recognize that the voice and insightfulness of the father is present in the son. And seemingly, the strength and resolve of  one Travis McGee made the transition from fiction to reality.

   If ever anyone continued the legacy of John D. MacDonald, only his son would ever measure up. Thank you for the informative work you have done. I am better for it. Aloha nui loa.

                                                                                                                 --Curtis Powers 


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Hello Cal,


I came across your fantastic site about a month ago and really wanted to share my “Meeting Travis Story.” I hope you consider posting it. Thanks!


I was working for Norwegian Cruise Lines, and at the time I was on a ship performing three and four day runs out of Miami down to the Bahamas. I just finished my shift, was tired, and didn’t feel like doing the same old thing that everybody who works on a cruise ship always does after finishing their shift (drinkin’ at the crew bar). So I meandered down the crew decks to the makeshift crew library—a few dusty bookshelves thrown against the wall with old, torn paperbacks scattered amongst some board games.


I browsed through the shelves and came upon a beat up book by an author I’ve never heard of called The Lonely Silver Rain. It promised to be adventurous and took place in Florida. I decided to give it a shot.


Well, it was a much longer night than I had planned it to be. I was instantly hooked by this man named Travis McGee who lived on a boat. Taking retirement in installments? Hard drinking but not a drunk? Intelligent? Introspective? Beach bum? This man was great! I felt like we could have been good friends. (And who, by the way, is this author who can write such vivid prose and cutting dialogue?)


I finished the book in a couple of days and immediately ordered more to be sent to the ship. Since then, I’ve read from Blue to Tan and I am steadily re-approaching Silver, and I have occasionally gotten distracted (about a dozen times or so) by other McDonald titles. It has been a fantastic adventure and I don’t want it to end. I’m sure it won’t be long until I’m scouring the earth for the mythical A Black Border for McGee.


Austin Scheeringa


Lutz, FL



*************



Back in the early 60’s a fellow at work, during lunch, handed me a book, “The Girl the Gold Watch and Everything”, and said, “You told me you like stories about time. You will like this”. And I did. After finishing it that night I thought, what else had this fellow MacDonald written? I can’t remember which one I read first…but I was hooked. I am envious of those that can read Travis McGee in the order they were written. But, I have read them often. I now have all 21 books on CD’s for when I travel to my condo in Lutz FL. (Robert Petkoff does a fair job). Not only are my 3 sons big fans of JDM, my first grandson was named Travis… <http://www.nj.com/hssports/blog/boyswintertrack/index.ssf/2013/01/travis_ellis_of_morris_hills_is_doing_ok_after_suffering_concussion_at_morris_county_championships.html>http://www.nj.com/hssports/blog/boyswintertrack/index.ssf/2013/01/travis_ellis_of_morris_hills_is_doing_ok_after_suffering_concussion_at_morris_county_championships.html

 

Well, that’s my story. My life would have been less interesting without JDM or Travis McGee.

 

Chuck Ellis

Yardley PA


I don't know if you print stories like mine, but I was and am a JDM fan.  In 1979, well before JDM's death, I just couldn't get enough of his Travis McGee books. 

 My pregnant daughter was so impressed by my devotion to his books, she named her son Travis, just for me and my love of JDM's books on Travis McGee.  My grandson is now 34. 

 I am 83 and still reading and re-reading his books.

 

Midge Sumerlin

Mobile AL

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My dad got me started on Travis as a young girl back in the 60's. I was immediately hooked. He bought all the books as they came out and shared them with me. He also collected Spillane, Halliday & Erle Stanley Gardner among others. When he died I inherited his collection and cherish it. These great authors turned me into an avid reader. I go back and read them all again and they bring back fond memories of my Dad and discussions sparked by these wonderful books.

 I still love those books as much today as when I first read them. My daughters are also avid readers and will inherit the collection along with all the books I've collected. Authors like JDM turned me into an lifelong  reader (I read 1-3 books a week) which I passed along to my daughters and they've passed on to my grandkids. What better legacy could there be? Books changed my life!


Marcia Boone

( Cal's note:  JDM was an avid reader and would have enjoyed this reader's homage as much as any award, I think.) 




Subject: Meeting T. McGee


It was near Da Nang, RVN, sometime in early 1970, when I first encountered John D. MacDonald and was introduced to Travis McGee.

As with most Marines then and there my life was long, mostly difficult, weeks in The Bush interspersed with long and usually excruciatingly boring, time-dragging, days in some rear area or another. “Rear” a relative term in a 360 degree war where we seldom foundourselves completely out of range of rockets, mortars and sappers.

 

During those stints at base we patrolled locally, stood watch in rotation, ate everything we could put hot sauce on,and waited for the periodic PX trucks and mail call. Most guys played cards or shot craps or read and reread letters while listening to AFRTS radio music or the occasional stereo.

I read.  Anything and everything I could get my hands on, and there was never enough.

One Marine I didn’t know well but disliked anyway for some reason I can’t remember was also a reader. As he cleaned out his gear box to pack and rotate home he had a sizeable stack of paperbacks which he dumped on the plywood floor of our hooch next to my cot,mumbling something about me liking to read, too. I was sifting through them when he grabbed his sea bag and left.

 

I greatly regret that I never thanked him. In the usual mix of scifi, westerns, and detective stories were three Travis McGee tales.

My first few hours with McGee snared me. I read all three books in two days, and then reread them until one fell apart, one was loaned and not returned, and the last wrapped in plastic and secured safely until I, too, rotated home. I have since read everything by JDM that I can find, and every T. McGee book at least four times. Some six or seven times.

 

I still have that surviving first paperback, a Fawcett Gold Medal Edition of “The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper”, published in 1969.

It’s cover rotted off before I rotated home in ’71, the glue binding mostly did so as well, but the still-glued sections are bound in cereal box cardboard and held together with rubber bands, only a few pages missing but the rest yellowed and water stained, ink faded. It is precious, beyond price.

Someday I will bequeath it to someone I love very much.

I’d like to find another character and series equally as valuable to me, but I can’t. Viet Nam was long ago when I was still a kid, and there’s only

one McGee.

 

Once a Sergeant of Marines,

D. Busby

 

 

 

© CAL  2012