He came into this world with two distinctive qualities—an extraordinary vision and an indomitable spirit, but at the age of ten years old, R.J. Watkins was banished from his small Appalachian community after being unjustly accused of igniting a mining accident. With a little help from fellow riders of the rails, R.J. learned how to survive on his own, but eventually his train came to rest with the Benton and Walters Best Show in America, where R.J. cultivated his unusual talents.
At seventeen, R.J. answered another whistle call of destiny, and he met the powerful McClennan family. Like a dazzling display of fireworks to their fourth of July picnic, R.J. provided the perfect blend of flavor for their family that had long since grew stale. But when he had hard time adjusting to the lavish extremes of the East Coast high society, R.J. learned to navigate their foreign world by completely transforming himself. A metamorphosis so complete that within a few short years he was the talk of the town, a man he barely recognized. Still all the talk was for naught because with the closing bell on a single autumn day in 1929, the McClennan fortune, which took generations to amass, was gone.
To stop the head-on collision with destitution, McClennan’s eldest son, Cosmo, made a deal with a devil, but it fell upon R.J. to pay the dues. No longer able to afford the luxury of other’s opinions, R.J. shed his finer sensibilities and used every trick he learned along the way to save his new family. Will his efforts be enough or ultimately destroy them?
From majestic corners hidden deep within the mountains to New York City’s finest ballrooms, Catching the Westbound chronicles the triumphs and tragedies of R.J. Watkins, a boy who came from nothing but with unparalleled determination, will, and resilience became the last great pioneer of industry.
After a lifetime of traveling paths of decadence and despair, by grace alone, he discovered the road that would lead him home.