Closing Down La Grange

In which the Long lens of the Law uncovers Sin and Corruption in Babylon-on-the-Brazos, and the Electric Bounty Hunter confronts the Nightmare Sheriff and the Banshee madam to unearth a Bizarre Tale.

True Confessions

ON WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 1, 1973, the La Grange Chicken Ranch, the Oldest Continually Operating Non-Floating Whorehouse in the United States, was closed down. The Texas Chamber of Commerce elected to ignore the passage of an establishment possibly older than all its members; and the State Historical Society, equally misfeasant, overlooked the shuttering of the house that slept more politicians than the Driskill Hotel and the Governor’s Mansion combined.

You all know about the Chicken Ranch of course. It was just about the first tourist attraction I heard about when I came to Texas. But, then, I came to Texas to be an Aggie, so that explains that. Later on I even learned that there was a town called La Grange nestled somewhere on the outskirts of the whorehouse of the same name.

Hell, I even went to La Grange once. The whorehouse, I mean. Not, mind you, because I had any truly unquenchable perversions that required a trip to La Grange to unleash, but, rather, because I figured that if one was going to be an Aggie, well then, Be An Aggie. The pilgrimage to La Grange sits close to the heart of The Aggie Myth, as central to the catechism as standing at football games and building the Bonfire for the Texas game.

We went on Thursday night when they had the $8 Aggie Special, trekking down in an old Pontiac full of fraudulently-purchased Lone Star and a thousand obscene variants of some drastically original horny Aggie fantasy.

We circled around town for a while, body temperature rising in inverse proportion to the declining stash of Lone Star and the increasing depravity of the fantasy, a deep, twisted well of prurient anxiety gradually filling to the point where no adolescent squeamishness could possibly abort an explosive gusher of Sinful Lust.

How’s that for metaphor? eh? Us Aggies get a three-syllable handicap in this magazine-writin’. In any case, the air went out of the fantasy as soon as we pulled into the Chicken Ranch parking lot and the first person we spotted was a deputy sheriff. He was just there to help park cars, though, so we proceeded on up to the door where Lilly, the black maid—the only black as a matter of strict fact (historical accuracy being an important part of articles like this) who ever passed the doors of the Chicken Ranch—checked our phony I.D.’s to make sure we were 21 and let us in.

We sauntered into the parlor where we drunkenly introduced ourselves to a half-dozen local farmers, a couple of cross-country truck drivers, and a fellow pilgrim who’d journeyed all the way down from Nebraska—and met three young ladies who either worked there or were truck drivers, too, we weren’t sure which.

One of the young ladies offered to sell us a Coke for 50 cents, which we declined, and then one of her friends asked us for a quarter to play the jukebox, which we cheerfully provided. My friend Richard, who was still trying to decide if they worked there or were just visiting truck drivers, thought he’d break the ice a little by asking one of them if she wanted to dance, which she didn’t.

“What’s with this dancin’ stuff, honey?” is what she said. “Ya wanna do some business here or not?” That’s when we decided she must be one of the U.T. coeds we’d heard about.

Pretty soon after that I picked one of the ladies (or she picked me, quite possibly, my recollection being sort of hazy) and we wandered off down the hall to one of the bedrooms. The walls of the room possessed an angularity that bespoke distracted carpentry, all of them covered with irregular splotches of pastel paint, and the furnishings consisted of a bed, a dresser and a sink, all rather commonplace in appearance and not at all meeting my expectations.

The top dresser drawer had been left open to reveal an intriguing assortment of oils, photographs, and leather goods, but I held firm for the Aggie Special which didn’t include any of its contents. Ruthie, who was the lady I’d picked (or who’d picked me), just rolled her eyes and made a face when I told her I only had the eight dollars anyway. She told me to “Git yer clothes off, honey,” and left to go deposit my money someplace.

I thought for a bit about how this wasn’t the way we’d planned it on the way down and was consequently a little slow getting undressed, being still garbed in my pants when Ruthie got back. “What’s this?” she asked me. “We ain’t got all night ya know.” I apologized for being so slow and took my pants off.

She then started poking and tugging at me, “checkin fer diseases,” she said, a bit of foreplay that possessed all the sensuality of my Army physical. Ruthie next threw me down on the bed, took off her own clothes and lay down beside me, and told me that for just eight dollars I didn’t get to kiss her.

Pleased that I hadn’t brought any more money, we just started pawing and pulling at each other and, next thing I knew, she was on top of me and asking if I was “finished already, honey?” “Well, uuuh…” I said. Then she pulled me up off the bed, washed us both off, and told me ta “git yer clothes back on, honey.” It had been what’s known in the trade as a “Four-get”: Get up, Get on, Get off, and Get out.

I met the rest of my cohorts outside, all except for Richard for whom we had to wait another hour and a half. He’d been so abased at being turned down for his dance that he’d gone and splurged $40 on a lavish degeneracy of sufficient novelty that its graphic description entertained us all the way back to College Station.

A Sentimental History of America’s Oldest Whorehouse

When old Frank Lotto published the first History of Fayette County back in 1902, he wrote, with what must have been


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