Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Reese Lockett and the Chicken Ranch.
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.