Friday, August 28, 2009
The time has come to say goodbye to the Chicken Ranch. Texas A&M has become coeducational. The Chicken Ranch has long been closed. I drove by it not long ago. It has been boarded up for a long time now and is weatherbeaten. It looks like a lot of other abandoned farm houses. In a way, it is sad. The girls who worked there had escaped from a life elsewhere which did not agree with them. Not a one of the girls who worked there was originally from LaGrange. So long to the Chicken Ranch. It existed in a time which is long gone (except for Las Vegas).
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Marie and I were in New York so we went to see "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" on Broadway. It was a good play, not entirely accurate, but amusing. The scene I liked best was when the Texas A&M football team won a game and a wealthy alumni showed up to congratulate them. They were seated on board seats in the locker room, still wearing their uniforms and cleats. This fat cat told them he had a bus outside and as a reward was going to take them to the Chicken Ranch. The choreography was marvelous. With flashing lights, the Aggies shed their cleats and put on street clothes and ran out to board the bus in minutes. I understand there is a movie but I have not seen it. I know that Miss Jessie is in a rest home in Austin and that Sheriff Loessin is dead and the new sheriff is named Flournoy. All this is taking place after the Chicken Ranch was closed, and after A&M became coeducational. As the saying goes, don't let the facts get in the way of a good story.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
The next thing you know, Marvin Zindler popped up. Marvin was trying to build a rep. He wrote for a newspaper and appeared on television. He also wore a large wig. Marvin showed up at the Chicken Ranch with a camera. Things had changed. Miss Jessie was in a rest home in Austin. Sheriff Loessin had died and the new sheriff was named Flournoy. Marvin confronted Sheriff Flournoy in downtown LaGrange. The sheriff jerked off his wig and stomped on it and told Marvin to get out of town. What Marvin did was to go to Austin and complain to the governor. At that time the governor was Dolph Briscoe, who did not like to rock the boat, but under this much pressure he called the sheriff and told him to close the whorehouse. The girls packed their bags and left. Marvin went on the air with his slogan, "Marvin Zindler, Eyewitness News." You would have thought that was the end of it, but that was just the beginning. An Austin writer wrote a magazine story entitled "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." This soon was expanded to a play which appeared on Broadway in New York. And after that was a movie.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Reese Lockett called me and said to meet him in Brenham about 4 AM. I said I would be there. I was writing a roving column for The Houston Post and had a lot of leeway. Lockett was mayor of Brenham and boss of the Salt Grass Trail. My columns about the trail had pushed us ahead of the Houston Chronicle. He also called Buddy Fisher, his and my insurance agent, and told him to be ready at 5 AM. Buddy said "Yessuh Mr. Lockett." We all got in Buddy's car and drove to Port Lavaca where Reese addressed the trail riders there. They were not riding to Houston, they were riding to San Antonio. Reese had become will known across Texas. Buddy was sulking because he did not like being ordered around. On the way back he suggested we stop at the Chicken Ranch. Reese did not want to stop but Buddy kept arguing with him so Reese finally agreed "as long as we do not stay too long." We pulled up to the Chicken Ranch, a weatherbeaten farm house, and got out and went in. Buddy went up and introduced himself to Miss Jessie, the madam, and I reminded her that I had met her before. Lockett gave a false name. It was sort of ridiculous for him to do so as he had been on television and was well known. Buddy offered to buy a drink and pretty soon about five young women wearing shorts joined us. When Buddy went to pay Miss Jessie he whispered to her that the other man was Reese Lockett. Miss Jessie stood up in front of Reese and said: "You are Reese Lockett." Reese stood up and took off his big hat and said: "Yes, Miss Jessie, but I have to be careful because I am in public life now." Miss Jessie snorted and said: "You know we would never talk about you Reese." Then she said: "Milly is still here." She turned to one of the girls and told her to summon Milly. Well, Milly had gotten too old to hustle, she was in her late 50s, and she was the towel girl. The towel girl delivers a towel to one of the girls when they have a customer. Milly was wearing a house dress, she was gray haired and had a large hearing aid. She came into the room with a bunch of towels on her arm. Miss Jessie pointed at Reese and said: "Look who's here." Milly screamed "Reeeese" and threw down the towels and ran over and hugged and kissed him. The room became extremely quiet. Reese shoved Milly away, said to Buddy "We have got to go" and strode out the door. Buddy knew when he had made his point and he thanked Miss Jessie for her hospitality and I told her it was nice to see her and he and I went out and got in the car. Reese was already sprawled out on the back seat with his hat over his face. It was about 60 miles to Brenham and no one said a word during the trip home.
Monday, August 24, 2009
There has been a lot of publicity about the Chicken Ranch, the country whorehouse at LaGrange, including a magazine article, a play and a movie. It was the favorite destination of students from Texas A&M when the college was all male. I first visited the Chicken Ranch a number of years ago when a murder trial was transferred from Houston to LaGrange by a district judge. The sheriff was Will Loessin, a popular man who served as sheriff for 20 years. During a recess in the trial, the jurors appeared to be divided. The sheriff called us together -- six journalists from the major newspapers of Texas -- and told us he was going to take us on a tour of the area. The tour was a visit to the Chicken Ranch. Those of us who made the trip included Margaret Mayer of the Austin American, Dawson Duncan of the Dallas Morning News, myself and several others. We were introduced to Miss Jessie, the madam of the whorehouse, who told us her life story. Shehad started out hustling in the oil boom at Longview, where she was robbed and beaten. She had been madam at the Chicken Ranch for a long time. The sheriff bought us a round of drinks while she told her story, and about five young women, wearing shorts, joined our group. In the beginning, during the Depression, money was scarce, and the farmers brought several chickens to pay for their visit. That is where the name Chicken Ranch came from.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Had some problems, particularly with the Internet, and so I enlisted the help of Jim Flournoy, the local expert. Jim seems to have cleared up the problem. This morning I was ready to give up, the computer was talking back to me. It appears to be working fine at the moment. My daughter, Nancy, will be down on Sunday, and I would like to confer with her on the internet on Saturday. It is more convenient than the telephone.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I have been out of town. We went to San Antonio on business. When we got off Highway 35 we fell into a trap. The whole area was under contruction. We wandered around and came back and started over. Finally we got where we were going. My advice is to stay out of San Antonio until construction is over, but that may be impossible. The city is growing so fast that construction probably will last for years.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
There are at least three ways to spell drouth, but any way you spell it, it is bad news. It rained in Austin yesterday but not here. We are hot and dry. Some people say it is because we do not go to church often enough. I say humbug, because the churches are full here. No, it has to do with the geology of the area. However, when it DOES rain, we probably will have a flood. Since I am living on top of a hill I am willing to risk that.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I am still recovering from treatment at the dentist. This is painful but necessary. During this time I am playing chess on the computer. Bob installed the chess game and it is provoking. When I am feeling better I will play Bob in person. Meanwhile Bob and Cindy are in New Mexico with her parents, Bill and Polly. They are going to be in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. In some ways I wish I was with them. I like New Mexico.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Bob and I are playing chess. I am a bit rusty. It can be played on a checkerboard but is not anything like checkers. I once played the West Coast champion. He beat me. I played chess when I was in grade school and in high school. I played against some of my professors. During the war I played against some of the East Coast soldiers. Chess is an ancient game. It has a king, a queen, two bishops, a castle called a rook, a knight with the head of a horse and a lot of pawns, the foot soldiers. The only thing about chess is that it takes time to play a game.
Friday, August 7, 2009
Daughter Nancy is out in West Texas at Fort Davis. It reminds me of a time when my friend, J.E. Carroll and I were on the Rio Grande south of Sierra Blanca about 50 miles east of El Paso. We spent a lot of time turning over rocks, looking for the pistol that Shorty Mexican had buried when he cross the river many years ago. Shorty Mexican, whose real name was Roberto Zubia Sr., worked for my father in Big Lake, the county seat of Reagan County. He told us that he buried the pistol when he came to Texas for fear of being arrested. He was a member of the revolutionary army under Diego Rivera. When Diego was killed he fled Mexico and ended up in Big Lake. Diego was known as Pancho Villa, and once ruled most of Northern Mexico. Those were interesting and turbulent days in Mexico.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
President Obama is advocating the manufacture of electric powered automobiles. This would suit me fine. Imagine not having to pay for gasoline. At this time you would have to have a recharge facility. Just remember to plug in before you go to bed. Other complaints are that these cars do not go fast enough. Bah humbug! We would cut down on traffic fatalities. Those who want speed could go to the automobile races. As time went by, these vehicles could be greatly improved.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
People ask me about New Braunfels. This is a charming community, although it is still growing. Some of the houses are masterpieces of a by-gone era. The city of Gruene, which is now part of New Braunfels, is filled with old fashioned stores. When Gruene was established, it was thought that this would be a cotton growing center but it did not work out that way. Now the cotton gin is a restaurant. In the summertime New Braunfels is filled with tourists, mostly young, who are going to ride an inflated tube in the Guadalupe River. The river is low but the tube riders keep coming. New Braunfels is located about halfway between San Antonio and Austin on Highway 35. You have a choice, go to San Antonio to see a ball game or go to Austin to see the Legislature.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
I remember a time during the l950s when the Rio Grande dried up. I walked out in the middle of it and took a picture. About two weeks later it started to rain and the Rio Grande was at flood stage. I hired a crop dusting plane and flew over it for contrast pictures. We ran a full page of contrast photographs in the Houston Post. And so my message is have faith. Perhaps we will be at flood stage in a few days.