Now, in his 77th year, C. A. “Pappy” Dolsen spends his days ministering to the needs of his four dogs, four cats, and 24 girls. With almost 60 years connected with show business behind him, many of them as a night club owner and theatrical agent, the last twenty as virtually the only manager of strip tease dancers in Dallas, Pappy has become something of a venerable institution. His continued activity and alertness is a testament to the benefits of smoking cigars, staying up late, hanging out in night clubs and low dives, preferring the ribald to the chaste, and seeking the company of young women.
Which is not to say that Pappy is fit as a fiddle. His walk is a slow, stiff shuffle; the sleek, rotund body of his younger days has withered to frail bones; and sitting down or standing up are difficult processes. None of this is unusual in men of advancing years, but age would not grip Pappy the way it does even now if he hadn’t been accidently run over by a car about four years ago. The car ran completely over him, breaking and crushing bones, and put Pappy in the hospital for months. So, relatively speaking, Pappy is pretty spry; his painstaking walk, after recovering from such an accident, is not so much evidence of physical decline as proof of the man’s essential liveliness and vigor.
After knocking around in his earlier years at a variety of jobs, including working as a comic in a burlesque house, Pappy opened his first club—La Boheme—in 1924. Dallas was a wilder, more open city in those days, with steady crap games running here and there around the city and a bookie parlor on most downtown streets. By the early Thirties La Boheme had metamorphosized into Pappy’s 66, which he ran in partnership with Benny Binion, later founder of the Horseshoe in Las Vegas. In those days Pappy had what might be called connections; they allowed Pappy’s to open at midnight and stay open until daybreak. As times changed, Pappy’s clubs changed. After the War he and his partner Abe Weinstein opened what was to be his largest, most popular, and least lucrative club of all—Pappy’s Showland.
Today, looking through the large scrapbook Pappy has started putting together, it seems impossible that anything like Pappy’s Showland will ever exist again. Several 8 x 10 glossy photographs in that scrapbook show a large, high-ceilinged rectangular room with an elaborate stage halfway