On Our Shelves Now
This long-lost autobiography of a woman who lived life with no regrets from the 1880's to the 1960's offers a rare look into the colorful criminal underworld from New York to San Francisco and every whorehouse, tavern, and mining camp in between. Dirty Helen, with the self-assurance of a defrocked debutante, takes you through her life and adventures. Demure, sweet, and wild teenage Helen flees from small-town Indiana to Cincinnati with her first of six husbands. She soon realizes that the traditional role of wife and mother isn't for her. She meets cunning millionaires, bank robbers, detectives, and gangsters as she hustles her way through life. Her friends were everyone else's enemies- Al Capone, Big Jim Colosimo, and Johnny Torrio all spend time with Helen as she bounces from adventure to adventure. It's the true-life story of a woman who never said "No" and carved out an independent life that transgressed every societal boundary. Her life is a rarely seen look into the reality of a working-class woman who chose sex-work as a path to the good life.
About the Author
Helen Worley Cromwell born in Cicero, Indiana in 1886 she was known far and wide as "Dirty Helen." In the 1930's, 40's, and 50's, her Milwaukee bar (The Sunflower Inn) was a rendezvous for the famous and the infamous. Sports heroes, movie stars, gangsters, and regular folks all 'pulled up the floor' (there were no chairs or stools) to listen as Helen regaled them with stories of her wildlife from her famously filthy mouth. From Cincinnati to Chicago to New York City to San Francisco to the gold mining camps of Canada and eventually settling in Milwaukee, Helen used her wits and body as she befriended gangsters like Al Capone and Big Jim Colosimo. This is the story of a mother, a prostitute, and entrepreneur who lived by her own rules. Assisted by Robert Dougherty, 'Dirty Helen' was first published in 1966.