Your houses are worth about half what you owe, gas is rocketing past four bucks a gallon, food’s gotten so precious you’re eating more lettuce than meat, and you’ve already told the kids to forget those elite universities and instead plan to attend local community colleges while they scramble for fast food jobs. Don’t be ashamed. Hold your head high. Countermeasures are essential. You can justify your new plan. Countless Americans are researching the same venture. Go ahead and proudly proclaim it: you’d love to open a whorehouse and already would have if you’d only known how. To survive, you’ll need special guidance. Don’t worry. I won’t charge for the following expert advice. I’m confident that philanthropic Pauline Tabor, author of “Pauline’s – Memoirs of the Madam on Clay Street,” would prefer that I instead bestow her essential observations based on thirty-five years of selling hot tail.
Where is Clay Street, you wonder? It’s in Bowling Green, a God-fearing and tobacco-selling community in western Kentucky that cradled about twenty thousand people in 1905 when Pauline was born. Her stern parents ensured their churchgoing daughter remained a virgin till the day she married at age eighteen. On her wedding night tender Pauline, waiting uneasily in bed, was frightened by the erection her husband brandished as he stood smiling over her. That long night Pauline became a woman and, though quite sore the next morning, decided sex was a damn good ride. Regrettably, her youthful husband enjoyed the charms of other Bowling Green sweethearts and resented Pauline pestering him about his social life and other private matters. Following seven increasingly-tense years, and the birth of two boys, the couple divorced and Pauline and her children moved into the home of her parents, whose business was failing in the wake of the 1929 stock market crash.
What was Pauline to do? She had neither education nor job skills. Women weren’t expected to need those things. She wandered the commercial streets of Bowling Green, talking to business owners invariably “cutting back on their staffs in a desperate effort to survive.” This “soul-shattering” process led to the “brief” classified ads in the local paper and news that a company was offering “unlimited earning possibilities” to go door to door and sell cosmetics and silk hosiery. Twenty-five eager applicants were there when Pauline arrived, but she promoted herself with aplomb and creativity and was one of five hired. As the Great Depression deepened, Pauline rarely made more than ten dollars a week but always acquired “sore feet (and) a battered morale” as doors were slammed in her face, dogs nipped at her legs, some housewives tried to steal her merchandise, and numerous men, “domesticated Romeos” home during the day, propositioned her. She turned them all down, even the ones offering a buck or two, and concluded the “average male feels he has unique sexual prowess which no woman in her right mind can possibly turn down.”
On a day when she was penniless and waiting for the company’s typically-late commission check, Pauline eased into the store of a merchant friend and meekly asked for a loan. The fellow replied he couldn’t help in that way but the following day, when Pauline returned to visit, he reminded her of the distinguished older gentlemen, an honorary colonel, who’d been staring at her outside the store and then through the window as she talked inside. The colonel was a wealthy businessman from northern Kentucky and often had concerns in Bowling Green and wanted to meet Pauline and left his local phone number and address. Pauline was angered by the presumption but following another afternoon of repetitious talk and no sales she decided to respond. That evening, as she dressed and applied makeup, her parents rebuked her for planning to go out with that “old goat” the colonel, who they stressed was married, in his late fifties, and had grown children. Pauline invoked adulthood privilege, walked to the appointed place, and the colonel took the starving young woman to the best restaurant in town, and on a drive in the countryside afterward told her he’d for years been in a loveless and farcical marriage and now just wanted a friend. As he dropped Pauline off in front of her parents’ home, the colonel handed her four ten-dollar bills, a “loan (with) no strings attached.”
During the ensuing weeks Pauline developed an emotional bond with this well-read and charming man who began providing her with regular cash gifts she transformed into better clothes for herself and her sons. Pauline’s parents daily railed about the immorality of being a kept woman, and the living arrangement became intolerable. Assisted by the colonel, she rented and furnished a small apartment. After about a year, however, Pauline, still struggling to sell cosmetics and hosiery, tired of romancing a man she admired but considered too old and, for her, a “one-way, dead-end street.” She again assessed her lack of special training and concluded the only way she’d ever earn lots of money would be through her “ability to use other people to (her) advantage.” She gently split with the colonel, who was aggrieved but generous and helped her obtain a job as a clerk for a tobacco company in Louisville. Pauline arranged to leave her sons with her former mother-in-law before moving north a hundred miles to a big city where she enjoyed her work and the stimulation of new friends and activities but after six months was stricken by typhoid fever and “desperately ill” several weeks, recovering so slowly her bills mounted and she had to summon her parents and return to the family home in Bowling Green. Pauline’s illness damaged “certain glandular functions” and she gained more than a hundred pounds before recovery, and now packed around two hundred fifteen on a five-foot-six frame.
The colonel had “permanently removed himself” from her life, and probably wouldn’t have been allured by the new, elephantine Pauline, who had to resume toting cosmetics and pounding the pavement in Bowling Green, earning damn little as the America of Hoover and Roosevelt descended into an economic hellhole. After she dined one afternoon at a downtown hotel, “a Negro bellhop whom (she) had known for years approached (her) with understandable nervousness, for men of color in those days rarely conferred with white ladies on delicate subjects…” He presented a note. She stopped outside and read that a guest had admired her when she entered the hotel and “would be highly honored to meet” her in his room. She decided that sins denounced at church sermons she attended were irrelevant, braced herself, stepped into the elevator, and rose to the man’s room on the third floor. He was attractive and polite and offered her a drink that almost strangled her. “Is that white lightnin’ too strong?” he asked.
Acknowledging it was, Pauline said, “I didn’t come here to drink. Just what did you have in mind?”
He called it a party. Pauline said that’ll be ten dollars. He responded, “Honey, I don’t want to buy you. I just want to rent you for awhile. Five bucks and nothing more.”
Thirty minutes later Pauline departed, “not feeling a bit unclean or guilty,” and was anxious to tap into this “gold mine right in (her) own backyard.” She tipped the bellhop a dollar, learned he did this as a “brisk side-business,” and started her career as a part-time hooker. For two months Pauline “haggled over prices” and was often deflated by men who slammed the door on a big woman. She knew she didn’t have what most men wanted, and resolved to provide that, after arranging a two-day academic visit at the hilltop mansion bordello of the legendary Miss May in Clarksville, Tennessee.
In the summer of 1933 Pauline Tabor returned to Bowling Green and began her eventful career as a madam. These are the most important practices and principles she learned.
I. How to deal with the police and other influential people.
From the start, during her crash course at Miss May’s, as Pauline sat on the lap of a massive sheriff who cuddled and called her “little lady,” she learned that “Holy Joes (would scream) about the cancer of vice destroying the town,” and that most friends and relatives would desert her, and she’d have to build alliances with important people in town, people she could trust and who would only respect her if she ran a “high-class house” staffed by beautiful women who got weekly medical checkups and didn’t gallivant around town during the one week per month they generally were on vacation. The community pillars would sometimes have to be paid for their cooperation, either directly in cash or in more subtle ways like campaign donations. In tiny Bowling Green Pauline didn’t have to bribe dishonest police officers, as she would have in a large city. Many of the police were regular customers. And all influential customers understood that Pauline would guard their confidentiality, but could if necessary divulge some “mighty embarrassing skeletons.”
II. Be realistic and start inexpensively.
Just as Miss May didn’t begin her career in a lavish residence – she’d been a full-time prostitute – Pauline had to start modestly by leasing an “ancient” but “huge” house outside Bowling Green. Her willingness to pay the high Depression-era price of thirty bucks a month delighted the departing preacher who evidently believed she really would be running a boardinghouse. When he did learn what was happening, from a slew of local letter writers, the “ordained landlord” never complained from his new home in another state.
Pauline was initially intimidated by the task of furnishing the five-bedroom, two-story house but discovered she “still had considerable furniture, linens, and other essential housewares from (her) years of marriage.” More supplies came from her disconsolate but cooperative mother – Pauline’s father had just died – and a few used furniture stores. She also acquired a jukebox. My paternal grandfather owned a new and used furniture store in Bowling Green at this time and may have sold her some goods and, I’ve heard, later bought some of hers.
III. How to get the essential product – girls.
Miss May had assured Pauline that once she was established gorgeous applicants would stream to her bordello. But now callow Pauline was stumped. She said she couldn’t just take out a want ad or walk up to some comely creature and offer her a “good-paying job screwing in (her) new cathouse.” Instead, she called Miss May, and one of her courtesans referred Pauline to a friend then waitressing in a Bowling Green restaurant. The lady had been busted in Louisville and was bored taking orders for peanuts and anxious to resume her career.
Be forewarned: you’ll need more than one girl and that it was rash of Pauline to fill the void by running a house of assignation, that is renting rooms out by the hour to amorous couples who were frequently married to other people, and occasionally to those romping in the facility at the same time. Each bedroom was occupied several times a night and the money rolled in but Pauline was frightened by potential confrontations and apoplectic when the tipsy wife of a Western Kentucky University professor, exhausted from more than an hour in the hay with her paramour, tumbled down the stairs and lay unconscious, her dress “ripped and crumpled up above her waist, disclosing …the campus matron had neglected to replace a vital part of her wardrobe.” The lady was revived, but the police told Pauline “most dames are married whores… (with) big, gossipy mouths, and that spells big trouble for you. Put a stop to the couples trade.” In desperation Pauline had already hired a second girl after having to occasionally set aside her duties as a madam and return to the mattress to accommodate those the only girl was too swamped to handle. She soon added two more veterans, one from Nashville and another from Louisville, as well as a local housewife who wanted to work part-time on the busy weekends.
Profits surged for a year as Pauline gave plenty of money to her children and mother-in-law, enjoyed growing prominence, and ignored her infamy as a horde of ministers, letter writers, newspaper editorials, and threatening phone callers assailed for her ruining the moral fabric of the community. The police also warned Pauline that the grim county attorney was going to yank her in front of the grand jury as the “target in a probe of organized vice in Bowling Green.”
“What should I do?” she asked.
“Close down and get out of town – at least until the trouble blows over.”
Pauline moved to Indiana, rented a house outside Indianapolis, hired five girls, and made plenty of money but in a year was arrested after a judge, driving by, noticed all the parked cars around a formerly peaceful abode. Before she got out of jail, her house was “ripped apart” during a burglary and all her local money and that of the girls was gone. Pauline had already paid their fines but owed Indiana $500 and had to call a friend in Bowling Green to wire money the next day.
IV. Do not open a call house.
In 1935 Pauline planned to open a brothel in Louisville but local madams emphasized the difficulties of running such an operation in a big city, so she instead opened a call house, providing room and board for girls who went out to service their tricks rather than receiving them in the madam’s house. Pauline had an imposing personality and her frame comprised as much muscle as fat, but she often felt weak and nervous because in the call house business she had to relinquish control. The girls got in cabs, an extra expense, and headed into the dark “on their own.” Occasionally no one awaited them at the appointed hotel or residence. Other times the girls were rejected. Sometimes they had to argue about “a new fee…if special or extra services (were) requested. “ Frequently they learned, to Pauline’s chagrin, that men spend and tip more in whorehouses, where they can show off to other males, than they do in solitary confines. And the girls always had to “quickly size up” their customers and decide if they were safe men or vice squad detectives or, most frighteningly, sexual perverts. Twice Pauline’s call girls were mauled in hotels and survived only because their “screams…roused other guests.” In early 1937 heavy rains arrived, pouring “nearly thirteen inches in just one twenty-four-hour period,” and the Ohio River overflowed its banks and inundated the “low riverfront section of Louisville,” leaving Pauline surrounded by water. She was rescued by a man “poling a large raft up to (her) doorstep.”
V. Find a nice house that’s easy to visit and easier to avoid.
Pauline soon returned to Bowling Green and began reestablishing important contacts and initiating new ones until ready to invest her “modest savings” to hire three ladies and rent a three-bedroom home. Her business flourished and in a year outgrew current capacity, so in the spring of 1939 she bought a “lovely eight-bedroom colonial house on five acres of land outside” town. Several years of moneymaking and notoriety ensued and Pauline Tabor was a rich woman in her mid-thirties when fire devoured her home.
Judges, police, Holy Joes, a flood, and now a fire had all willfully, it seemed, tried to destroy the entrepreneurial career of Pauline Tabor. She left town and traveled around the country with her boyfriend, a bookmaker she would soon marry, buying antiques and relaxing as she considered retirement in luxury. But many local citizens and powerbrokers were aghast: after her place turned to ashes, men had started carousing with untrustworthy women of the street and venereal disease spiked. How could a guy have a good time in Bowling Green during World War II, or any other time, if Pauline didn’t open another place, and one not inconveniently located several miles out of town? Males in western Kentucky and, indeed, travelers from many other states needed Pauline in a place not exactly downtown but damn near. She found such a house at 624 Clay Street. This time she planned to have fewer problems. Her nearest neighbors had four legs and lived in stockyards, and railroad tracks ran across the street. She diligently transformed the house of “shabby disrepair” into an antique-decorated palace surrounded by lush lawns and gardens.
VI. Be (or hire) a tough and perceptive madam.
Pauline’s physique had expanded to the quite formidable two-hundred-forty pound “proportions of a professional football tackle,” enabling her to bounce most drunken or troublesome customers, and she described herself as at times being a “tough, grasping, cold-hearted woman with about as much human warmth and sentimentality as a statistics-incubating computer at the Census Bureau.” When necessary, she augmented those characteristics by cussing “like a dock worker” in the isolated world where she was a “mercenary,” selling sex to “acquire the finer things in life.”
Conversely, it is also clear Pauline frequently offered her girls, several hundred of whom she employed during her career, important personal advice, the principal of which was to be a professional prostitute rather than a cheap hooker in a bar or on the street, and to make as much money as rapidly as possible, save it, and then get out of the business before it was too late, before time consumed their physical charms and the job damaged their souls. A number of the prostitutes became business owners, homemakers, and traditional mothers in other states where their husbands had no knowledge of their employment history. Other ladies needed money immediately, usually to take care of their children. One employee had five children.
Pauline was enraged by the “textbook geniuses” who degraded prostitutes with public assertions they were all either nymphomaniacs, too lazy to work, or feebleminded women “whose only talent for making a living is conveniently situated between (their) legs.” Nymphs and dimwits rarely fooled Pauline and gained employment, and those who did failed to last more than a few days since they “lacked the class required for a career as a successful prostitute.” And to those who claimed the girls didn’t want to do real work, Pauline issued this challenge: “Try working a twelve-hour shift in a busy house sometime.”
And just what was that like in the era of Pauline’s opulent home on Clay Street? Rather than punching a time card, most of her girls prepared for work by inserting a diaphragm or applying vaginal jelly. Inevitably, some pregnancies occurred, and Pauline knew which doctors would perform abortions, either “because of personal birth-control convictions or the desire for an easy buck.” But she referred most such business elsewhere since the “top abortionist for many years was a Negro woman who combined a smattering of medical knowledge with seemingly effective ‘country-folk cures’ handed down to women in her family from one generation to another since the days of slavery.”
When the house opened for action in the evenings, and men gathered downstairs to buy drinks and drop coins in the jukebox and dance, the coiffed and groomed girls, in a variety of flirtatious and seductive ways not unlike regular courting, tried to attract as many customers as possible to the upstairs bedrooms. Pauline noted that even if a man was “quick-like-a-bunny,” her girls still needed twenty to thirty minutes to conduct all business, which, naturally, began with money being “collected and safely stored.” Then the trick had to be delicately cleaned with soap and water. A “certain amount of preliminary love play” preceded the “ultimate activities,” and when those concluded the pro again washed the man, and then herself, before they both put their clothes back on and descended the stairs.
This routine meant that a prostitute could service two to three men an hour, or twenty to thirty during a six p.m. to a.m. haul, not a regimen for the lazy.
No matter how busy the evening, Pauline always knew what the approximate gross payments should be, and if a girl failed to turn over the standard fifty percent share, she ordered her to pack and get out. Security is essential in all retail businesses.
VII. Understand the Tricks.
Every man who appeared at the elegant house on Clay Street was screened by Pauline before and immediately after entry. In particular she looked for drunkenness and twitches or nervous eyes that could indicate meanness or mental illness. Sometimes tranquil-looking men fooled her and tried to rob the place. If the men weren’t armed, Pauline retreated to her first-floor parlor, retrieved a revolver, pointed it at their noses, and either called the police or evicted them herself. Armed intruders were given the cash, but as they tried to speed away Pauline, moving briskly for a large woman, would chase them and fire shotgun blasts at their cars, sometimes damaging the vehicles and forcing them to stop. You’ll need at least one small gun and large rifle to maintain order in your cathouse. And there are less-lethal weapons available: Pauline once fired two large Roman candles as she chased a couple of obnoxious drunks.
Generally, her clients were gentlemen or almost so and spanned the spectrum of professional endeavor. They “included multimillionaires, men in powerful political positions, important industrialists, businessmen and bankers, actors, athletes, teachers and students, law enforcement officials, farmers, salesmen, and plain everyday workingmen…(and even) a preacher.” The latter was a touring charismatic speaker who explained that his wife was an invalid and his “very strong sex drive” overwhelmed resistance. Fine. That was the essence of prostitution. Horny and often lonely men, many with wives too “occupied with homemaking, children, jobs, and outside activities (to) be bothered by sex,” needed hormonal release and at least some simulated human warmth. But Pauline did not tolerate romances between clients and her girls. Such entanglements would lead to complaints by outraged wives and, ultimately, trouble with law enforcement.
She intervened when one of her girls complained that a professor from up the hill at Western Kentucky University had fallen in love with her. After ensuring that Madge hadn’t been giving “this poor dope the come on,” Pauline told the lovelorn fellow, who’d been visiting four times a week and grimacing as he waited for Madge to finish entertaining men upstairs, that his impassioned offer to marry her was ridiculous since Madge didn’t feel the same about him, and he was “talking through his balls” and they’d both someday be “unhappy as hell” as he tried to sustain intimacy with a woman he knew had been screwed by “hundreds and hundreds of men.” The professor protested she didn’t give him “any credit for decent feelings.”
“That’s a bunch of crap,” Pauline countered. Madge could leave with him if she wanted, “it’s her funeral,” but the professor would not see her as long as she worked in the house on Clay Street. Madge ignored his “subterfuges,” and a year later he left town to teach elsewhere.
Pauline also learned not to hire “two buddy-buddy girls (who arrive) together looking for jobs.” Wanda and Julie were pretty, feminine, and vivacious, and seemed ideal professionals until, after a week on the job, Wanda pounced on another woman while she was napping, and “ripped” her robe and “partially” tore off her bra. The victim ran downstairs to complain and, as she did so, “bedlam erupted upstairs.” Small but ferocious Julie was assaulting “Wanda with teeth, fingernails, fists, and feet like an enraged wildcat…(and) clawed the big blonde’s writhing legs, inching ever closer to a far more vital region.”
“Stop this damn nonsense,” Pauline ordered Julie, who continued to rip flesh with bloody fingers as she screamed, “I’m gonna kill this goddamn cheatin’ dike. She’s two-timed me for the last time.” The frightened madam braced her huge frame over Julie, wound up, and uncorked a “haymaker” that flattened her “across…her girlfriend’s body like a felled ox.”
When men misbehaved, there were also consequences. A longtime customer and “chronic grouch,” dreaded for his “endless complaints, caustic criticisms, and bossy manner,” had his penis bitten bloody by an aggrieved girl, whom Pauline supported, as she patched the man’s instrument, with the declaration, “Hell’s bells, if it had been me, I’d have bitten the damned thing off and fed it to the pigs.”
No matter how much any man paid, Pauline would not permit him to abuse her employees. After she received a large premium to “relax” her rules and permit one of the girls to go to a motel to meet a wealthy but otherwise disreputable businessman named Archie, the prostitute returned to Clay Street with her “custom-tailored suit” in tatters, bruises on her cheek and arms, and a black eye. Pauline promptly called the man at his house, told him he was a “no-good bastard,” and that she was coming over to collect a hundred fifty dollars for the woman’s clothes. He responded obscenely and hung up. Twenty minutes later Pauline parked in his driveway, knocked on the front door, pushed aside the male employee who answered, marched through the house until she found Archie, demanded the money, and told him to go ahead with his threat to call the police, she’d file assault charges against him. In the morning, as soon as the bank opened, Archie paid.
VIII. Offer premium services, but be careful.
Pauline demonstrated excellent judgment most of the time, but her desire for evermore money compelled her to offer some degrading and dangerous services, and most were not needed to maintain the solvency of a high class whorehouse.
It is perhaps all right to let a man brush a ladies hair for fifteen minutes and climax on that basis, and, though disgusting, it may be tolerable for a pro to jab a “greased candle in and out” of the rear ends of “freaks,” but it is assuredly unwise to allow whips and straps to be part of your repertoire. Pauline stipulated that men who wanted to be whipped, since they were “nuttier than a fruitcake” during their perverse activities, had to be strapped face down to the bed, each of their limbs tied to a bedpost. Naturally, these wealthy customers paid great sums – a few hundred dollars decades ago – as Pauline closed her business to other customers while the “entire house (was) reverberating with screams, groans, moans, and weird, ecstatic howling of a freak undergoing the delights of the whip.”
I must rebuke Pauline, and not merely from a clear historical vantage point, for allowing a muscular Kentucky horse-breeder, an impressive “stud,” to hire three girls to “lay” the whip on him. He “bellowed, screamed, cursed” and made sounds “like an excited horse” and, adrenaline and testosterone surging through his frame, eventually ripped out the bedpost immobilizing his right hand, released his left, and began “brutally beating” one of the girls. As the other two stood terrified, whips at their sides, Pauline rumbled upstairs, at first too shocked to react, then “grabbed a heavy antique bedroom water pitcher and shattered it across the frenzied horseman’s head.” The blow didn’t knock him out but brought him back to relative normalcy. He quickly dressed and urged her to send the bill to his attorney. Pauline mailed a big one.
I hope I don’t sound priggish saying you should decline to service voyeurs. There are practical as well as ethical reasons. Pauline understood that peeping Toms writhed “in the grip of one of the riskiest of sexual compulsions…(and were) rather easily detected by police patrols…(and) vulnerable targets for the guns of families who happen to catch them in action.” Indeed, Pauline had apprehended a peeper outside her house, his pants at his ankles and a hand around his penis, as he watched the indoor activities. Instead of shooting him, she demanded and received a twenty-dollar fee. There is simply too much risk, and Pauline probably wouldn’t have provided this service except she knew “even outside the courtroom it doesn’t pay to argue too strenuously with” a judge.
The gray-haired gentleman had visited Pauline and asked for a private consultation. He was distraught because a year earlier he’d suddenly become gripped by an “uncontrollable urge” to “prowl the streets at night” and peer into windows, hoping to see people having sex. Several times he’d almost been caught, and might have been killed or, at minimum, lost his family, career, and reputation. He urged Pauline to help, noting his needs weren’t as outrageous as those in the whipping parties. Besides, he had a plan: he’d hide in the closet of one of the girls and, “camouflaged” by her garments, study the action through a door open a few inches. Pauline conferred with her girls, found that Susan agreed, and for sixty dollars a visit the judge, strictly ordered to control himself, was allowed to watch a few tricks three or four times a month for two years. Ultimately, he got careless when a “national VIP politician” visited and between clinches began telling Susan about the foibles of various Kentucky politicians. The eager judge leaned forward and knocked a hanger to the floor. The politician jumped up and would have discovered the interloper if Susan hadn’t hopped on his back and attributed the noise to old plumbing and said, “This is a place for lovin’, man. Let’s get busy.” Afterward, the judge vowed never to return, and he didn’t.
Pauline was happiest when hosting much livelier and wealthier individuals, particularly oilmen who flew into Bowling Green from around the nation. These lusty fellows usually reserved the house for a couple of days and consumed much food and liquor between assignations. One group of ten men rented that many women and switched after each session and all the guys expected their partners to “bed down each of the ten women.” Pauline admired the oilmen’s “carefree, what-the-hell spirit…and their main objective (of having) a rollicking, sex-saturated good time.” She also observed many politicians, who attended expensive private parties, and noted they “seemed for the most part to be an uptight group, incapable of having a really good time because they’re always fretting about the reactions of other people…(and were) a rather shabby-souled, shallow-minded lot” who sold their influence to the lobbyists hosting them.
IX. Be generous but remain tough.
Since Pauline’s earliest days as a madam, local dowagers and other biddies had snubbed her on the streets of Bowling Green. Nevertheless, when in need, many of them marched to Clay Street with their hands out. Rather than rebuke them for hypocrisy, Pauline generally opened her purse and offered sizable donations. She also forgave numerous relatives who’d ignored in public and banned her from family gatherings, and responded with checks when, through the grapevine, they asked for help paying medical bills.
Sometimes money and goodwill did not suffice. In one mayoral campaign Pauline donated about a thousand dollars to both candidates, yet as the election neared these hypocrites began “screaming about the need to wipe out vice in Bowling Green – a political ploy obviously aimed at wooing the Holy Joe vote.” The pols also forced reluctant police officers to raid the house on Clay Street. A few days later Pauline sat on the witness stand in a crowded courtroom, greeted the elderly judge, and to the prosecuting attorney announced, “It sure was good to see you down at my house last week, Tom. I sure hope you’ll be back real soon.”
The district attorney shot up in protest and insisted Pauline be cited for contempt of court. The old gentleman was about to agree but offered Pauline a chance to explain.
“Well, Judge,” she said, “after looking over the folks in this courtroom, you seem to be the only one who hasn’t been a customer in my place.” Pointing and offering anecdotes, she clarified matters so well that a stampede emptied the courtroom, and the judge declared, “Case dismissed.”
Pauline generally transcended the attacks of her enemies, even the local newspaper publisher who’d assailed her in print for years. She called his editor and offered charitable assistance for Christmas.
“I just don’t know what (the publisher will) say about a brothel contributing to our Christmas drive,” said the editor.
“Look,” Pauline responded, “you tell that damned old skinflint that if he doesn’t want my help I’ll start my own Christmas charity drive and make him look sick.”
The publisher accepted her help and assigned her the neediest family, an unemployed black father and mother with twelve children who were “existing on the brink of starvation.”
Stimulated to have a meaningful task during the usually boring Yuletide season when half her girls were on vacation and a majority of clients stayed home, Pauline unleashed her energy and organizational skills and soon arranged a full-time job for the father, the delivery of two tons of coal to the family, plenty of new and used furniture, a mountain of food, stacks of clothes, and many books, toys, and games for the kids.
One of the girls still on duty reminded Pauline: “We’ve forgotten the most important thing. We don’t have a Santa Claus.”
Pauline enlisted a hefty fireman for that distinguished role, and he and Pauline and a few others drove two cars laden with the rest of the gifts for the family and delighted in the “happiness shining in the eyes of those children when Santa burst into that house with a sack of toys and loud cries of holiday cheer.” After Pauline and her crew returned to Clay Street to open presents and drink “brandy-laced eggnog,” one of the girls whispered: “Don’t you think it would be nice to give Santa Claus a present?”
Pauline agreed. And it would be the only time in thirty-five years that anyone got free tail.
Editorial notes: Urban renewal, no doubt fueled by the Holy Joes, eventually claimed Pauline’s house in 1968, and it was torn down. Pauline retired to her organic farm, one of the first in the nation, outside Bowling Green and resided there until 1982 when she moved to Universal City, Texas to live near her son. She died in a nursing home in 1992 at age eighty-seven.
Source: I learned everything from the colorful book “Pauline’s – Memoirs of the Madam on Clay Street.” After publication in 1971, Pauline appeared on the Dick Cavett Show and stunned visitors with frank remarks about her noteworthy career. This book is particularly interesting to me since I’m a native of Bowling Green.
Categories: Bowling Green, Charity, Floods, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, Obesity, Pauline Tabor, Prostitution, Sex, Western Kentucky University,