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.
....Feral House, an innovative Pacific Northwest-based publisher, which has released this new edition as “Good Time Party Girl: The Notorious Life of Dirty Helen Cromwell 1886-1969″ (Feral House).
If this new title is subdued, the text is not. “In addition to reworking and reediting, I unbowdlerized the text,” Ward says. “The 1966 editors made silly changes to avoid pornography accusations." She put all the profanity back in.
Ward has done a superb job, compelling local writer Martin Billheimer to rightly call the book, “A slightly mad version of ‘Sister Carrie'.” — Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune ~Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune