Monday, November 18, 2013

Chicken Ranch report no. 45: Vive La Grange!

Fayette Public Library, Fayette Heritage Museum and Archives, La Grange Texas
La Grange, I love you! And I will fight anyone who says a bad thing about your town!

Folks, if you missed my Sunday presentation at the Fayette Public Library in La Grange, you missed one humdinger of a show. I am not one normally given over to hyperbole, but we had ourselves one heck of a shindig there. I stopped counting at 50 people crowding into the conference room at the library. Every single chair was taken and plenty of people took to standing in the back and sitting on side tables, with more slipping in even after I'd begun talking. I'm telling you, the people just kept coming. We taxed that poor old air conditioning system to its limits, I'm afraid. It got a wee bit warm in there with so many folks packed close together, but we made it work!

I will admit to a certain degree of uncertainty on my part going into the event. As I told the audience, it seems that 40 percent of the local populace are enthused and excited about my Chicken Ranch research, another 50 percent--those too young to remember, or newcomers to the community--are somewhat indifferent and the remaining 10 percent believe I'm an agent of Satan for daring to look into the history of the brothel. If that latter 10 percent showed up, I could've been in deep trouble. Fortunately for me, the crowed consisted exclusively of 40 percenters, and the enthusiasm and support they showed me is profoundly gratifying. One lady had severely injured herself in a fall, yet despite her obvious discomfort, she was determined to meet me and get a copy of Ghosts of the Chicken Ranch. That means a lot to me. It makes me feel that all this work I've invested into this crazy research actually matters. And you know what? A lot of other folks there must've felt the same way, because I sold out of every copy I had with me. To be honest, I'd have given the presentation even without selling a single book, but that kind of positive affirmation sure does make the sky a little bluer and the sun shine a little brighter!

I had some great conversations with more than a few people who knew Miss Edna personally, and lived through those insane days back in 1973. Nobody booed me and said I got my facts wrong. Nobody threw rotten vegetables. I explained the history of the failed Chicken Ranch restaurant in Dallas (which a number of folks were curious about), the origins of the "Chicken Ranch burned down rumors" and the connections between the Chicken Ranch brothel in Nevada and the one in La Grange (there aren't any). It was a whole heck of a lot of fun, and my one regret is that it ended too quickly. Like General Douglas MacArthur, I will return some day--if not for my exhaustive history book on the Chicken Ranch, then for another go-round or two for Ghosts of the Chicken Ranch. You see, after my presentation I was approached an asked if I might come back to give an encore performance for some local church groups...

Now Playing: Emerson, Lake and Palmer The Return of the Manticore
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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:55 PM

    I just dicovered your site and and ordered your book tonight. Ordered it immediately and can't wait for delivery. I will certainly attend any future readings. Any thoughts to doing a reading in Galveston at the historical and magnificent Rosenberg Library? Perhaps one of the local booksellers could help coordinate and the people at the Galveston County Daily News might find it of note since Galveston has it's own love/hate relationship with their history with prostitution. My favorite stories is that once the local police were so busy they didn't have time to go around to the local houses to arrest and bond out the sex workers....part of the city they called in their raid. The story goes that there was a long line of fancy vehicles pulling into the local police stations and the madams entered the police stations to pay the "bond" on people never arrested:) Looking forward to future readings so I can get my book signed. Glad you continued youre quest!