The current chapter, which I haven't spoken of much, is essentially a biography of Edna Milton, better known as Miss Edna. The last owner of the Chicken Ranch, her story is a bittersweet one at best. She never aspired to prostitution or wanted to become a madam--and in all honesty, who would? She wanted what any teenage girl in the 1940s would want: the handsome husband, a brood of children, a cozy little house with a white picket fence. Suffice to say, she didn't get any of that dream, yet she still lived an amazing life.
The most challenging part of writing this chapter hasn't been the actual writing (unlike the previous chapters) but instead sifting through the reams of interview pages I have from Miss Edna and piecing together a chronological narrative. She's one of those people who breaks off on tangents more often than not, talking about whatever pops up in her memory at the moment. This means that, say, her reminisces about living in Fort Worth are broken up by several hours worth of memories of the Chicken Ranch, family trees, pets she's had, and her thoughts on Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Sorting through all that is time consuming, and exhausting. Rewarding, yes, but no less a challenge. On the bright side, I'm rewarded with the account of how Miss Edna first came to the Chicken Ranch, which to my knowledge, has never been published or recounted in any form or fashion:
Suspicious of the Chicken Ranch, Miss Edna instead headed to Austin, where legendary Texas madam Hattie Valdes operated several houses catering to horny University of Texas students and Texas legislators in equal measure.There's more where that came from--a lot more, but it's getting late, so I'll wait until tomorrow to write up that part of the story. Now, it's off to bed for me!
“She didn’t have any openings at that moment, but she asked me if I knew about La Grange,” Miss Edna said. “The lady in Austin was telling me about it, then she called down there and they said somebody’s going to be gone a week. I said, ‘Well, at least I’ll go down there and see what it’s about. I may not even want to stay.’ But you can tolerate almost anything for a week.
“It was pleasant driving up to that old thing, seeing the trees and everything, you know?” she said. “After having looked at the city for a few years, that white house in the distance, among those green trees, it looked real pleasant. I didn’t know how it’d be like inside, you know, but I went from there.”
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