Friday, September 05, 2014

Chicken Ranch passing

Niki Zindler Niki Devine
The Las Vegas Sun is reporting that Niki Devine has died. "Who is that?" you may well ask, "and what does she have to do with the Chicken Ranch?" The connection might become a little more clear with the understanding that at one time she was known as Niki Zindler.

Yes, that Zindler. As in married to. She met Marvin Zindler in Houston in 2000, they married a few years thereafter and remained together until his death from cancer in 2007. She even became part of Marvin's media circus on occasion.

Obviously, she was not married to him in 1973, when the whole Chicken Ranch episode blew up in La Grange. Consequently, she had no real involvement in that. But during my research, one of my major goals was to gain access to Marvin's papers. I vaguely recalled him donating such to a library or institute in the early 2000s, but my efforts at finding it on my own (not to mention pestering all manner of research librarians) turned up nothing. I got to the point where I now think I imagined it. But Zindler had in his possession the original copies of some documents that survive only in small fragments, files that would fill in a lot of context for my research, and maybe answer persistent questions that I currently can only speculate about. So, unable to find an archive with his papers, I decided to try the estate, and to that end I wrote to Niki Zindler at her Houston address in 2010, explaining my project and requesting her help.

Out of the blue, she telephoned me some months later from Las Vegas. She, too, was interested in Marvin's papers. She didn't have them, and didn't know where they might be, or if they even still existed. She had no access to the estate of her late husband, no communication. She didn't come out and say it, but from her tone and word choice, I got the strong impression that she and Marvin's children did not get along. She suggested I approach Marvin Zindler, Jr., as he would be most likely to know where such materials are if they still existed, but did not think he would be very cooperative (For the record, I made multiple attempts to contact Marvin Zindler, Jr., even leaving telephone messages at his Houston office. He never responded).

Before the call ended, Niki agreed that his papers should be archived where they'd be preserved and accessible. She asked me to let her know if I ever found out information about the papers, their location, who had them, etc. I promised her I would. Alas, that's one promise I've not been able to fulfill.

The article indicates she battled Alzheimer's since 2009, but she was lucid and sharp when we spoke. I never suspected. She lived a very interesting life, and as the Sun's obituary states, "She prided herself on marrying colorful men." I don't think anyone can argue with that.

Now Playing: Miles Davis Cool Jazz
Chicken Ranch Central

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