Monday, April 11, 2016

19th Century Chop Shops and Blog Blitz

Today is day one of a three day blog blitz featuring Her Independent Spirit, the third novella in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series.

Catch all seven excerpts on participating blogs on my Zina Abbott website by CLICKING HERE.

Please join me on the Sweet/Clean Romance Facebook event
today at noon/1:00/2:00/3:00p.m.

As part of this blitz, I decided to clarify the type of eating place one of my main characters, Beth Dodd, works in as a cook and baker.

When I hear the term “chop shop,” I immediately imagine a sinister garage secreted away in somebody’s backyard in which criminal-types are dismantling stolen cars and trucks in order sell the parts on the black market in either the United States or in foreign nations. While studying the history of Lundy, the gold mining town on the west end of Lundy Lake in Mill Creek Canyon high up in the Eastern Sierra-Nevada mountains in Mono County, I discovered the term chop shop had an entirely different meaning.
Much of the original town was burned about 1886, but this 1890's photo shows buildings in Lundy.

Chop shops were eateries. To say a chop shop was a restaurant was probably using the term loosely. They were probably the closest thing to fast food hungry miners coming down from the mines could go to in order to get a quick steak dinner. Possibly potatoes, biscuits or other side dishes may have been included on the side.

In my Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series, I do have a chop shop owner, a German named Gus Herschel, serving sides. He hires Beth because when he tries to make biscuits, they turn out harder than the gold-filled quartz rocks the miners send to the stamp mills to be crushed.
Pioneer kitchen from the Prescott, AZ museum
There were several chop shops in Lundy. The Gus Herschel is a fictional character. However, The Arcade Saloon owned by two Germans, Leonard Haas and Frederick Gluntz, did exist. And, there was a chop shop as part of the saloon building. Other chop shops were the Lundy Chop House owned by Ed Manton with Mrs. James Boultinghouse working there, later called the Gem Chop House when owned by Jack Hall, and Vincent’s’ when owned by J.H. Vincent.  Mrs. Katie Delahide ran the Lundy Chop Stand.
Now, here is more about Her Independent Spirit:

Although widow Beth Dodd has agreed to wed Val Caldwell, she puts their marriage off until the end of the year. She still desires to have a place of her own that she and her little sister can fall back on should something go wrong in the future. Widowed in California, she has an estate coming to her that is worth far less than her portion from the Ohio farm that her pa sold to her late husband for the express purpose of providing Beth with a husband and a secure place to spend her life and raise a family. That was before her late husband sold out and left her behind so he could return to the mines in the eastern Sierra-Nevada Mountains. Now, she is in the eastern Sierras, but it is land, not gold and silver, she seeks.

Louisa Parmley has a decision to make. Will she give up her baby in order to resume working as a prostitute at the Blue Feather brothel? Or, will she take Beth up on her offer to keep her baby, leave prostitution behind, and work as a cook? And, will the stubborn German cook, Gus Herschel, who owns the chop shop at the back of the Arcade Saloon where Beth works, give in to Beth’s badgering and promises? Knowing Louisa’s past, will he allow Louisa to bring her baby there and work as a cook in spite of the Arcade Saloon’s strictly-enforced policy of “no upstairs girls”?

Excerpt #4:

Kitchen sideboard from the Genoa, NV Museum
     Her arms akimbo, Beth turned to face Gus.
     “Gus, it don’t do no good to say you ain’t goin’ to condemn her none if you ain’t willin’ to help her do honest work. She ain’t goin’ to be no upstairs girl no more. She’s comin’ here to be a cook, like me.”
     “Nein! First Josh, now upstairs girl here you bring? No room in kitchen.”
     “I’ll stay outside most of the time so I don’t get in your way,” Josh offered. “I won’t come in unless you call me.”
     “She ain’t goin’ to be here all that long, just ‘til the minin’ season’s over. What with people around here knowin’ about her, she can’t stay in Lundy and have no decent life for her baby. I aim to take her with me when I go for my little sister. Afore then, she needs to learn honest work so she can get a job back east.”
     Gus turned from his stove and stood directly next to Beth.
     “Nein, herrisch Witwe!” No, bossy widow.

I am offering a copy of the book through Amazon Giveaway sweepstakes with a  one in fifty chance of winning. You may access the Amazon Giveaway by CLICKING HERE and following the instructions.

About the Author:

Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels. You may find the first two novellas in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series, Big Meadows Valentine and A Resurrected Heart, by clicking on the hyperlinks for the novel titles or by going to Zina Abbott’s Amazon Author Page by clicking HERE.

To learn of new releases and special offers, Zina Abbott invites you to sign up to receive her monthly NEWSLETTER. You may sign up by CLICKING HERE.

Zina Abbott Author Links:

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Purchase links for Her Independent Heart:

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Excerpt 3 & #AmazonGiveaway on Blog Blitz: 


  1. Tweeted! Best Wishes on your new release!

  2. These characters are just so alive and 'charming'. Wishing you all the best. Doris