So, I'm walking down the dog foot aisle in HEB this evening around 7 p.m. and my cell phone rings. I look at the number and see it's a 979 area code. Immediately I know it's from Sealy (I suppose it could be from Columbus as well, but I know all the numbers that would be calling me from there). I answer, and a slow, elderly voice introduces herself as Eleanor Maddox.
I'm a little confused at first. I was halfway expecting a phone call from Sealy, but from someone else and the name doesn't quite register. In my confusion, it takes me a moment to realize she's talking about a newspaper ad, and what's it all about? I took out a classified ad in the Sealy News for five weeks in advance of writing the chapter on the Wagon Wheel brothel for the Chicken Ranch book. My Wagon Wheel research has been comparatively thin, and I'd hoped to get a little more history from the locals to flesh it out. The final ad ran last week, with a grand total of zero responses. So you can understand my confusion at someone calling about the ad a week after the fact, and my failure to understand or recognize the name.
I explain that I'm writing a book on the Chicken Ranch, and since the Wagon Wheel was closed down by Marvin Zindler at the same time but is often overlooked, I'm trying to include the history of that place as well.
She paused for a moment. "The state closed it down."
"Yes, but Marvin Zindler was the catalyst."
Another pause. "That all happened a long time ago. I don't think many people want that brought up."
"I understand some people feel that way."
"Truman is dead. I don't think I'd want to answer questions only he has the answers to."
"Yes, Sheriff Maddox died in 2000. I wish I'd gotten to speak to him." Another pause. "Do you have anything you're willing to speak to me about?"
"I don't think so."
"Well, thank you for your call."
"You're welcome. Goodbye."
It wasn't until I got home did I put two and two together. Sheriff Truman Maddox. Eleanor Maddox. I'd just received a phone call from the late sheriff's wife. Obviously, I'm not the brightest bulb in the chandelier. It's a shame I didn't realize who she was until after the fact. I have a tremendous respect for Sheriff Maddox that grows the more I learn about him. I'd dearly love to learn from her what his reaction to all the unwanted media publicity was, but it looks like that ship has sailed.
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