Friday, March 02, 2012

Edna Milton Chadwell: One more media round-up

I've never been embargoed before. Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time doing phone interviews with various quarters putting together writeups on the late Edna Milton (Chadwell), providing fact-checking services (hrm, I gotta start charging for that) and in general, helping get the word out regarding Miss Edna's death. No, "getting the word out" isn't quite it... "Getting the word correct" is closer to the mark. With so much misinformation out there about the Chicken Ranch already, I didn't want any new wrong-headed notions getting loose in the wild (alas, this was not to be. Just last night I saw one story repeating the falsehood that the Chicken Ranch burned down, although this time in a new context). I spoke with Matt Schudel of the Washington Post and emailed back and forth quite a bit, and have to say I was impressed by his thoroughness, even though probably 99 percent of what we covered didn't make the final obituary. He just asked that I not mention to anyone I spoke with him until the article ran, which it did this morning. I guess he was worried the New York Times would swoop in and steal his thunder. In any event, here's the link to his comprehensive story, and a brief excerpt:

Washington Post: Edna Milton Chadwell, madam of Texas’s ‘Best Little Whorehouse,’ dies at 84
Edna Arretha Milton was born Jan. 3, 1928, in Caddo County, Okla. Her nephew said her family lived in sharecropper’s shacks and even in wagons.

At 16, Mrs. Chadwell was living in California, she later told writer Jayme Lynn Blaschke, when she was pushed into a marriage to Elva A. Hutson; they later divorced. She had a son who died in infancy.

With no other resources, Mrs. Chadwell moved to Texas and turned to prostitution.

“She told me she was on the brink of starvation,” said Blaschke, who is writing a book about the Chicken Ranch.
Elsewhere, the story continues to spread. It has conquered North America and is now running rampant in Great Britain and Australia. Some are reprints of the AP or the Houston Chronicle or the Washington Post pieces, but others are odd mashups, taking pieces from these stories and mixing them together with bits from Wikipedia and elsewhere. These are particularly interesting, because I can pick out my words there, paraphrased and altered slightly, but still sourced by yours truly, becoming part of the conventional wisdom and general knowledge base. It's a little heady, and a little scary at the same time.

The Telegraphs: Edna Milton Chadwell

Yahoo!Movies: Edna Milton Chadwell, Last Madam of ‘Chicken Ranch’ Bordello, Dies at 84 The Best Little Chicken Ranch in Texas

The Sydney Morning Herald: Madam of 'best little whorehouse' dies at 84

Thanks to all the people who have emailed me these past few days to offer encouragement and support. Needless to say, I'm feeling the pressure to knuckle down and get this book finished as soon as possible. I'll continue to post updates on my progress here and on the Facebook Page and as soon as I have a contract and estimated publication date, I'll let everyone know.

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  1. I hope the UT Press realizes that you're the go-to guy for all this info and that the interest for the book is definitely there.

  2. Robert Kleffman12:15 PM

    I saw were you "Might" have a publisher???

    1. Maybe. There is interest, but we've been here before. Depends if we can come to terms. But hey, it's better than a sharp stick in the eye!