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NORFOLK WOMEN'S ORAL HISTORY PROJECT

JEAN E. FRIEDMAN, COORDINATOR
INTERVIEW 1

Discussion of prostitution in Norfolk in the 1930's and 1940's by a Norfolk physician and his wife.

Interviewer: Kathleen Bolt

ODU ARCHIVES


Interviewer: (Question inaudible)

Wife: Well, mostly young girls who came here to meet their boyfriends, their sailor boyfriends. Now, I worked with a lot of girls who were from the ages of 14 on, where they come here to meet their boyfriends and their boyfriends would be shipped out, he would not be at the base or anyplace; they had no money, they had no place to go, so a sailor would pick them up, and they'd take them to a hotel room. Then, the vice squad would go in, well, the hotel managers of the hotels at that time, now this is what they did: they would rent these rooms to the sailors with these girls, and then call the vice squad. The vice squad would come and pick this girl up, put her in jail, and hold her for medical. She'd be held for a medical. Then they would rent that same identical room as many times a night as they could, they would call the vice squad each time, and a lot of these kids were virgins, 'cause we'd get them the next day for an examination, because the had to be examined to see if they had some kind of venereal disease at the time, and a lot of these kids were just young kids who had run away from home.

Physician: These were strictly streetwalkers. These were not the red light district workers. These were not the house of prostitution...

Wife: Oh, no, these weren't the...

Physician: These were not the professional prostitutes.

Interviewer: How many houses -- I'm thinking of downtown. What did it look like?

Physician: Downtown was a typical, a

Interviewer: I mean, were there houses? Like what's on Freemason Street.

Physician: Yes. Freemason had some of them. Now, I can only tell you about the white ,about the blacks I don't know. But I do know about the white houses of prostitution. There were some over the tops of saloons, over the top of drug stores, some of them were in these old homes on some of the side streets. But the majority of them, the ones that were tolerated and under control were located on Bank Street and East Main Street. There were a few on Freemason Street and Some on Ward Street, and some on the side streets, but by and large, the main area was East Main Street, stretching from what is now City Hall, where the Water Drive comes in, it stretched from there to Granby, then down around the corner.

Interviewer: Okay, now that's still saloons, and

Physician: Yeah, down around the corner, of Main Street, some on Granby Street, some on Plume, no, East, was that Plume Street, oh, well, Plume and City Hall.

Interviewer: So, they were like hotels over the saloons?

Physician: Nope, they were houses of prostitution, no hotel...

Wife: They had madams who run the places...

Physician: They had madams who ran the places, and you went up there like, in fact I know...

Wife: There were also under medical too, at that time, they had to have examinations.

Interviewer: This was something you said that really interested me.

Wife: They had to go every week, they had to have their…

Interviewer: Who made them have the exam? The madam, or?

Physician: The madam, so they wouldn't get any complaints from the health department, what we used to call the "clap snack", the VD clinic.

Wife: Wasn't this at the time, too, when they worked for the shore patrol...?

Physician: The shore patrol knew they were there. Hell, the shore patrol used to police them. The shore patrol used to go around and check the houses, and if the sailors got unruly I've seen them tell them to shut up or pitch them out on their ear.

Interviewer: How about the City of Norfolk?

Physician: The city of Norfolk knew they were there but did nothing about it.

Wife: They left them alone.

Physician: They did not license them.

Wife: They all had cards.. .that's so when they got arrested or they got into trouble they could present their health card. It wasn't mandatory that they have health cards.

Interviewer: But it helped.

Physician: Yeah. Where she worked, at the VD Clinic, they went and got a health card, so they had no gonorrhea, so if they got picked up they showed their health card.

Interviewer: And the police were more apt to let them go if...

Physician: No, The police never bothered them. If they were picked up for prostitution, they were picked up, taken to the jail house, and they were held on what they called a "medical", then they were taken to police court. They were tried and either convicted, or...

Wife: They didn't have police court then, not the one...

Physician: Yes they did, yeah they all went to police court and were tried, and they either got dismissed or they got convicted. Usually (Inaudible phrase here)...

Wife: They could not get out, they could not get out until, we had to sign their medical report.

Interviewer: That's what I'm talkin' about. After they got out, they still had to, some of them still had to go to court depending on what they were arrested for.

Interviewer: You'd examine

Physician: They had to go to court because they had broken the law. They weren't taken up because of the health report, they were picked up because they had broken the law, they were arrested and booked, and put on the docket.

Wife: Yeah, but these were the ones, they were in and out all the time. It got the point where you would release them and you'd know they'd be right back.

Physician: The health department, I worked with her in the health department, all we did was to certify as to whether or not they were infected, then it was a civil matter, then they could do what they want, see. If they wanted to ( ) them up, it was their business; if they wanted to try them, that was their business; if they wanted to sentence them, that was their business. We had nothing to do with that.

Interviewer: Who used the houses? Was it for the Navy, or...

Physician Anybody.

Interviewer: What were the clientele? I mean, like, I guess the rate.

Physician: You mean who went in and out? Men.

Wife: I have the funniest story to tell you about. Do you remember, you made this house call one night, one of the girls was sick, and he was called, and I was with him and I was sitting in the car. I knew the place, I knew what it was and everything. I'm sitting there waiting for him to come down. And I saw this man, he was walking up and down, he looked like, a rabbi. He had a long beard, and he had his collar pulled up. He was, I believe he was a Mennonite. And he would walk up and down the street.

Physician: He wasn't a Mennonite. He was one of that breed, I don't know whether he was a Mennonite or Quaker, or whatever, he was apparently a religious man, because he was dressed with the black hat, and the long beard, and as soon as he thought...

Wife: He looked up and down the street to see, and when he didn't see anybody coming down the street, he opened the door and ran up the stairs.

Physician: Does that answer your question about who went.

Interviewer: Yeah, I guess everybody went. I mean I was wondering if there was a high class house, or...

Physician: No...

Wife: Wasn't Virginia's the most expensive?

Physician: No, rates were the same all over, It was a standard rate of one, two or three dollars, but if you wanted extra fringe benefits, you had to pay extra, of course, see.

Interviewer: So, there wasn't, say, one house that would cater to upper middle class...

Physician: Yeah, yeah, but they had back doors. Yeah, the upper class clientele did not use the same doors but the same girls, yeah. You see when you talk about extras… let's assume now that a man of means, affluent, wealthy person, see. He would go through the back door, one of the private entrances, and his girl would have already been arranged for, and his room was off to the side, and he paid the rate, $100 or $200, or what ever it was, I don't know. But I knew it existed because I would talk… the times so and so. And I'd say 'You're kidding', and she'd say you'd be surprised, and that's all she'd say. But then she would tell me that they, this clientele, to to speak, who were a little more discrete, and they would pay a hundred dollars, and the would hire the girl for the night, $200, or whatever, they paid according to however long they wanted to stay.

Inteviewer: How did the financial…did the madam hire the girls?

Physician: I don't know, I don't know. I do know this: that some girls traveled what they called the circuit. Alot or them followed their husbands, I would say....

Interviewer: Followed their husbands?

Physician: Yeah, their husbands were enlisted personnel or officers...

Interviewer: These girls were married?

Physician: Oh, Yeah,

Wife: Some were married.

Physician: Not all were married.

Wife: Some were single. Some had children.

Physician: Yeah, they had families.

Wife: They had the children in very exclusive girls' schools, the younger girls. Because I knew two girls who had children in Connecticut in very exclusive schools.

Physician: The girls that were married to service personnel, be it Marine, Army, Coast Guard, they were, even officers' wives, worked the circuit. If their husbands were stationed in Hawaii, they worked in Hawaii houses of ill repute, and when they came home they worked in Norfolk. Then when their husbands were transferred to Miami. They went to Miami, and they knew where the houses were.

Interviewer: Were the husbands aware?

Physician: I would say in the majority of cases, yes. They condoned it, sure. Those girls made big money.

Interviewer: How much money? What did they make?

Physician; I remember I talked to two or three of the girls about how much they made, over a thousand dollars a week.

Wife: Oh, Sandy, she told us one time, now this was her, what she grossed in one year for income tax purposes, a lot of times they didn't give it all, she said$150 thousand dollars, It was nothing for them to make this type, this kind of money.

Interviewer: How do you report this to Uncle Sam?

Physician: I don't know, you just put prostitute right across the report.

Wife: They put their occupation and they had to report. They never reported the actual amount that they made.

Physician: That's one of the oldest professions in the world.

Interviewer: I didn't know it was reportable.

Physician: Oh Yeah. The Internal Revenue doesn't care how you make your money, how you made it. All they want to know is if you made money, pay your tax.

Wife: If it's your profession, then you pay taxes on it.

Interviewer: And they would send this in to the IRS?

Physician: Oh Yes. Your return to the IRS is confidential, nobody can get to that. You can put down anything you want on there. Even a thief; I've seen them put down gambler, professional thief, if you can get by with it, I don't know.

Interviewer: I'm surprised they filed. I don't think I'd file.

Physician: They filed because the IRS knew who was working, they kept tabs on them. They knew that they would make x number of dollars, the average girl, and the better girls would make more money. The real hustlers would make more money.

Interviewer: That's just amazing.

Physician: They had good, bad, and indifferent, too, that's right. They had real hard workers.

Wife: You meet a lot of these women, you'd never believe. They were dressed beautifully; their hair was always well groomed. You'd think it was a next door neighbor. But, you know, I was so gullible, I couldn't believe it; just the mention of their names would provoke me, but he used to make the house calls, and they'd call him, I'd see them in his office.

Interviewer: They were probably better dressed.

Physician: Not much, not necessarily. No, they weren't. The gaudy ones were real gaudy, the ones with the lipstick across their eyebrows, and the red battle paint and everything else, you see they were gaudy. They were the exceptions to the rule. Most of these girls were... they knew what people expected of them, and they dressed plainly and if their husband was a second class or a chief they dressed according to the second class chiefs' wives; if there husbands were an officer, well then they dressed according to an officer's station in life. They didn't, it was a dead give away if you did, you see, these girls knew that.

Interviewer: Were they, then, mostly from out-of-town?

Physician: I would say 99-44/100 were from out of town. I don't know any. I didn't even know one girl who was a Norfolk girl. I didn't know one girl; I knew maybe one girl in my years of taking care of the girls, of being associated as a doctor, and I must have taken care of three or four hundred of them, I don't know of one.

Interviewer: That were, most of them?

Physician: All of them from out of town: Carolina, Te as. They all brought their pimps with them. Those that made the circuit brought their man with them, when they came, they brought their man with them.

Interviewer: Now, they didn't have a husband and a pimp?

Physician: No. The husband was the pimp. If they were married, their husband was the pimp, was the pander, or whatever you want to call them. But, the majority of them weren't married. The majority were what we were just talking about, about living as man and wife but not married, had no children. Usually, if they did have a child it was not their child it was a child that she had before, a previous marriage.

Wife: And they would take a stray child. A child maybe that was one of the girls, one of their friends.

Physician: If one of the girls got pregnant, they'd take the child.

Wife: They wouldn't even adopt the child by legal procedure.

Physician: They didn't even adopt the child, they'd take the child.

Wife: They'd take the child as their own, take care of it, send it to school.

Physician: There was never a question, well... usually there was no question of adoption at all. Like I say, Mary came in, she was green, and she got caught, and she was afraid of having an abortion, or she couldn't have an abortion, or it was against her re1igion to have and abortion, she would have the baby and either keep it or give it away to one of the other girls, or to some family. If the girl that took the child was a prostitute, generally, or as a general rule, they did not go through legal channels. The investigation would bring up the fact that they were prostitutes and they couldn't keep the baby. They circumvented the law by doing that.

Wife: They got everything, they never wanted for anything at all.

Interviewer: Which would be their "mothering instinct" coming out, but yet they didn't keep the child.

Wife: No, they couldn't keep it with them.

Interviewer: Did they live there?

Physician: No, no.

Wife: They had their own homes!

Physician: They had beautiful homes, beautiful homes. I'll take you down and show you some homes and you would say it's impossible.

Interviewer: So, they just got dressed and walked out the door at six o'clock at night?

Physician: Six o'clock in the morning. They worked from six at night 'til six in the morning, night shift, no day shift.

Interviewer: So, they left at six p.m.?

Physician: They left at six a.m., five a.m., four a.m.

Wife: You mean they left their homes.

Physician: Homes? Yeah. That's right. She would drive out in her Cadillac, or whatever, and park the car, and...

Wife: And a lot of them that did have children, left them with their maids, they had live-in maids.

Physician: Or their husbands took care of them.

Interviewer: Didn't the neighbors kind of?

Physician: I don't know, I never had...

Interviewer: I mean, it would be kind of reversed, all my neighbors come home at six o'clock.

Physician: Well, maybe they were a little bit discrete about it. She left at a time, you know when nobody paid any attention to it.

Interviewer: So they only lived in Norfolk?

Physician: Oh, no, they lived all over; Chesapeake, Virginia Beach,

Interviewer: But they didn't... somehow I got the idea, you know, that they stayed, oh, you know, from reading the romantic novels, that they stayed there, that they ate their meals there.

Physician: Listen, you're talking about the Middle Ages. Sure, that's true way back in 1810-1820.

Wife: What do they do now? They don't have it. They don't have this sort of thing now.

Interviewer: They don't have, I don't know but I've never heard of, they don't have madams anymore. Don't they pretty much free lance now?

Wife: Yes, they are…

Physician: Yes, they have some madams. They nailed one in Aragonne Village just two or three months ago.

Interviewer: Oh, yeah, they did. She was a Norfolk girl.

Physician: Yeah, she was a hooker,

Wife: She's the one where they watched her and they counted all the cars?

Interviewer: Yeah.

Wife: This is an apartment.

Physician: It's the same...

Interviewer: The same thing I get your point. That's an apartment, she is sharing it with three other girls who are doing the same thing.

Physician: More than likely they don't live there.

Wife: Yes they do live there. These girls live there, and they've been watched, and they counted the number or cars and the people who went in and out. Well, now, it's een three or four, maybe five years ago, one of the most exclusive sections of this city, one of the police raided one night. And it was a house of prostitution going on there, and this is a very exclusive neighborhood. You remember we went to a Medical Dinner they had, and she was the last one to know she was there. She was so mad, she said leave.

(There was some discussion here about not mentioning names. Discussion then continues.)

A very exclusive area. And the lady who originally owned the property, which was her father's farm, she lived there, and she was the last one to know... She was, you know, one of these FFB's.

Physician: She was shocked. She was embarrassed and shocked; embarrassed because it happened in the neighborhood, and shocked because she didn't know about it.

Interviewer: The madams, did they travel?

Physician: No, the madams stayed here. They either owned the property that they were using, or she was the leasee, or leaser, the one that leased the property. She had the lease.

Interviewer: She was native then, she was more apt to be.

Physician: No.

Interviewer: She was from out-of-town, too?

Physician: Most of them were from out-of-town.

Interviewer: But, she was more permanent, she was more likely to be...

Physician: She was a native.

Interviewer: In other words, she moved into Norfolk bag and baggage?

Wife: They became very prominent people, too.

Physician: Let's say that Miss X came into town, set up a house of prostitution, and got all the girls, and then she moved into town. She stayed in town. She didn't work the circuit. See, the way she would work the circuit, she would tell Suzie, see all of them go by first names, it wasn't Suzie Bly or whatever, it was Suzie, that was the name, Sue, Mary, Jane, or whatever, see, Trixie, that's the only name we knew them by, we didn't know them by their last names. What they would do, they would say "I'm leavin', I'm goin' to Texas," and she'd say, "Well, go see so-and-so, and if he's got any girls tell him to send them up here." And they'd do that; they'd go down and say, "Norfolk house number 3 wants two of three girls, if you have them, if you can spare them." And they would send up two or three girls. They came from Florida, they came from Rhode Island, they came from, well, they came from all over the country.

Wife: The madam always had her a right arm, she had another one of the women that would be her right arm.

Physician: The madam, well, she would always have her lieutenant, so to speak. She'd be in control, but she would have someone next in control to her, that would stay with her all the time, and they were very close friends as a general rule.

Interviewer: Was she married? Did she marry? I imagine she picked up some wealth along the way.

Physician: She picked up a whole helluva lot of wealth.

Wife: Now, she was divorced. Most of them were not married at the time.

Physician: Most of them married, you could call it a marriage. It wasn't actually a marriage like you or I think of a marriage. Most of them were married just to say they were married. But there were no bonds or anything like that. If he got tired, he just picked up and left. There was no divorce, no nothin'.

Interviewer: Did they have any other function in Norfolk, or were they strictly confined to East Main Street, or Bank Street?

Physician: No, that's all they ever did. They never got involved in anything else.

Interviewer: They didn't get into any of our other, you know?

Physician: No, no.

Interviewer: How big a problem was VD?

Physician: VD wasn't anywhere near the problem it is today.

Wife: At the time VD was...

Physician: Remember, you're talking about an influx of 60,000 young 18 or 19 year old sailors, who were nothing but eager. They go to a house and get infected.

Wife: No, we had nothing to do with the sailors.

Physician: That's where the big VD came from.

Wife: We had a lot, we had...

Physician: You're talking about the colored, which, of course, it's always been colored.

Wife: Well, it was both colored and white.

Physician: The biggest percentage of the VD at the Health Department clinic was colored, you know that.

Wife: Oh, Yeah.

Physician: The biggest percentage was colored.

Interviewer: The houses were fairly clean?

Physician: The houses were fairly well controlled, yeah. They were controlled.

Wife: Oh, you're still talking about...

Physician: Yeah, that's what she's talking about, she's not talking about the streetwalkers. She's talking about the houses of prostitution, she's talking about the houses that were run by the madams. And these madams were very, very particular because they didn't want their houses to get a bad reputation. That's why they insisted that the girls get examinations. They insisted that the girls go to specific doctors because they knew that certain doctors would not do the, what you might call, the "sink test". Do you know what a "sink test" is? (several unintelligible words here) -- In other words, if you were to do a swab, you put it up, you look at the microscope, and put it in the waste basket and say everything's alright, just off the top of your head. Which was the big problem, because they would send girls back who were infected and they would infect the customers. And the customers come back and raise holy hell, and that would give the house a black eye, with the health department and with the customers. When a man go gonorrhea in a house of prostitution, he didn't write a Dear John letter, he went back up there and beat the hell out of somebody, see, 'cause he paid for protection and didn't get it. A lot or times they'd come up there and cause a helluva ruckus and then the house got a bad name. "Don't go up there 'cause all the girls are clappy, all the girls are diseased," so they'd all go to the next house. Just like a grocery store doesn't want the stigma of selling rotten fruit. So that's about how it worked. That's why those girls were particular. Other than that, they could care less except for the financial end of it, you see.

Interviewer: They would lose money.

Physician: They'd lose money.

Interviewer: Was, ah, GC still the bigger? (not totally intelligible question)

Physician: Yeah, GC was in prevalence. I don't think it was as big a problem at it is today, if you exclude the influx of 60,000 18 or 19 year old boys, you know, that came fresh off the farm, didn't know how to protect themselves.

Wife: And at that time, too that was the beginning of penicillin, and penicillin sort of worked itself out. It doesn't take care of it like it did then. Your cure rate was better.

Physician: Your cure rate with penicillin was a hundred percent.

Interviewer: Now we're getting resistant strains.

Physician: It was very, very unusual for you to treat a person with penicillin when they first come up and not get results, miraculous results. Active cases of gonorrhea that you give a shot of penicillin to in the morning (in those days you shoot them every four hours). What you do is you either had them come in the office every four hours and the nurse gives it, else you met them at specific locations and give their second shot, third shot, and so forth. I've seen them start in the morning with a terrific discharge and by nighttime they'd be completely dry. Cured, you might say; practically cured.

Interviewer: The girls were aware then and they sought their own medical care?

Physician: I would say the biggest percentage of the girls were health conscious. They did not want to be infected.

Wife: And most of them, anyway, were sent by their madams.

Physician: I think it was more of a voluntary thing; they wanted to be clean for their own safety, for their own well-being, and for the fact, again, of their financial well-being, because they worked and they got complaints; for instance, if a man came back in seven days and said, "Mary gave me the dose", well, Mary was out of action for a week or ten days until she was cured, until she got a letter saying she was cured.

Interviewer: What about contraceptives? What did they do to prevent pregnancy?

Physician: Douched. They used rubbers, they used condoms, and douched; most of them douched. In fact, I would say all of them douched. Most of them were smart enough to know of the rhythm, and of course they were protected and during certain times, they wouldn't work, 'cause they knew they were viable, that they were apt to get pregnant if they worked, see. And they used all kinds; some of them used what they called a "sponge"; they would insert a sponge up against the cervix to block the. . . like a diaphragm.

Interviewer: So they knew?

Physician: Yeah, they had their own systems, their own methods.

Interviewer: How many got pregnant and what happened to them? Did they kick them out, or...

Physician: Well, I don't know any that got pregnant that I got to see or take care of. I don't remember any of them getting pregnant. Some of them I know must have gotten pregnant and left, and what happened to them I don't know. But I don't know of any that had their baby and stayed here.

Interviewer: Did you see any trauma from abortions?

Physician: Oh yes, oh yes. Oh, I know what you mean. I was thinking in terms of getting pregnant and carrying to term. A lot of them had abortions down here. Oh yea, there were a lot who would get pregnant and go get an abortion done. They had places to go that I didn't even know about, as a doctor, I didn't know, But they knew where to go -- I had know idea. I didn't know where they were going, and I never asked them where they went, because if I did, and they told me, I would have had to call the police and report them, it was my duty, the law.

Interviewer: Were they butchered?

Physician: Yeah, I had a lot of them, a lot of them that went into sepsis, most of them, but a lot of them did it themselves. They used what they called a "slippery elm". They'd insert a piece of stick, a foreign body, into their wombs, into the cervix, and aborted themselves. And some of them knew doctors out-of-state, they used to drive to and have it done and then come back to work in two weeks.

Interviewer: Who paid for it, did they or did the madam?

Physician: They paid their own. The madam didn't pay anything. The madam got a certain percentage as I understand it. In other words, let's just say a trick, which was their way of saying they had had intercourse with a man, but they'd had a trick with so-and-so, see, and the trick was five dollars. Well, I think the split was 50-50. $2.50 to the madam, $2.50 to the girl.

Interviewer: So, all the madam really suplied was the place?

Physician: She supplied the place and the protection, As long as the girls worked in there, they did not get raided, see. As long as they stayed there and caused no ruckus and caused no problems, they never got raided. Now, let's say that Bob Jones went in there and had intercourse with one of the girls and got gonorrhea or syphilis and he in anger or to get revenge went down and turned them in, they'd have to raid the place. But I've seen them raid the place, book them, and three hours later go back and get a trick. Wide open again, see. In other words they'd fulfilled their obligation, the man said he wanted them raided, they raided them. And they went up before the courts and the courts fined them five or ten dollars, ten days or whatever it was, probation, and they went back to work. But, like I say, it was not legal, it was tolerated. In their thinking it was a necessary evil. They figured, I talked to some of the people that were in control then but are now dead, I'm talking about 35 years ago, these men were 60 then, 55 to 60, who were more or less in control, and they explained it on the basis that if they did not have these places that these sailors would be out raping and plundering in the neighborhoods. And that's the way they condoned what they were doing. And I guess in their way of thinking they were right. Cause as soon as a sailor hit the port, they'd say go to Main Street, East Main Street, two bucks and that's it, no problems, you don't have to worry about getting raided, about getting rolled, or nothin, see. Yeah, they had a code of ethics. They would not do anybody any harm, if they did they got in trouble. There was a shore patrol right there. In other words, a sailor got in trouble he got rolled, one of the girls rolled him, they stole his money, they stole his watch, or whatever, then the shore patrol went in and got this girl and found out what happened, and if she said "No, I didn't do any such thing", 'cause a lot of sailors went and said they had done that just to raise cain or to get even with somebody, or whatever the reason was, I don't know, some of them actually got rolled or things stolen from them, but it was the warped mind of some of them just to go in and cause this ruckus. And the shore patrol usually straightened it out right there. It was right there in the house. The chief went in there with his two patrolmen and told the madam what had happened, and she called the girl up, and they sat with them and held a kangaroo court right there. And usually the shore patrol was sharp enough to know the sailor was a liar, or that the girl was a liar, "cause the girls had reputations, see. They knew that Denise was sneaky, and they knew from past experience that she would steal if she got a chance, that she was someone you couldn't depend on. And if they caught her, they'd make her give the sailor back his $10 or fifteen dollars, or whatever, and that was the end of it. The case was closed. That was instant justice; there was no long trial, no big jury, no nothin', just give John his ten bucks and go back to work. "I didn't take it but I'll give him his ten dollars", and that was the end of it. So, it was almost like a world of its own, a country of its own, an area of its own.

Interviewer: Did they serve drinks? Did they drink?

Physician: Yeah, they had… some of them I think you could buy beer and whiskey, and I don't think any of them served food.

Interviewer: But you could buy...

Physician: You could buy a drink, but I think they got out of that, they stopped that, because it was so damned much trouble. Get an 18 year-old in there, he has two beers, and starts fighting everybody, and they just stopped it, see.

Interviewer: How about the girls? Do they have drinking problems, even drug problems?

Physician: Yeah, they had morphine addicts and they had alcoholics.

Wife: These weren't the girls that were in these houses?

Physician: Oh, yeah, them and the pimps both. The pimps made them addict so they could control them.

Interviewer: You're kidding?

Physician: I kid you not. Pimps made them addicts so they could better control them. Some of the houses, the better houses, wouldn't tolerate them. Soon as the madam found out, she ran them off. Then, they would go to another town. They would come in and say...

Wife: There were very few.

Physician: Oh, that was very unusual, very unusual. The biggest danger was higher living. The girls would think nothing of buying their pimp a Cadillac, and next week if he didn't like the yellow one, you get him a red one, spend another $2000 on a new Cadillac 'cause he didn't like the color. He bought all the best clothes, had a charge account downtown -- he didn't have a charge account, he paid in cash. The pimps would go around with six, seven, eight, nine thousand dollars cash in their pockets, and the girls had nothin'. The ones that did not have pimps would have the ten thousand dollars and the Cadillac and the freedom of whoever they wanted. Some of these girls had to have a lord and master, some of 'em wouldn't tolerate them.

Wife: They had another method, too, with the taxicab drivers.

Physician: Well, taxicab drivers, they worked on a percentage basis. All that was was an advertising method. The cab drivers would bring these customers over, and they'd get a percentage, either a dollar a head or two dollars a head, and some of the cab drivers, as I understand it, would work the girls in the back of the cabs. They'd turn tricks in the back of the cab, They'd pick up a fare, and they'd ride along, and he'd say, "You lookin' for something strange?" And the guy would say, "Yeah." He'd say, "I'll be right back," and go over and pick up the prostitute and put her in the back of the car and go pick up the sailor and say, "You wait here. I'll be back in ten minutes." And he'd drive around and he'd have intercourse and he'd charge her for the cab fare and for the other. Had to pay the cab fare and (unintelligible).

Wife: Well, you know we bought a house, the first house we bought, when we were married. We had, our oldest son was born there. He was about, I guess, two or three months old, and I was feeding him one night, in fact, the house that we'd bought was a house of uh..

Physician: But I didn't know it. It was a little cottage, a little teeny cottage.

Wife: He was making house calls, and I'm feeding the baby one night, and I heard somebody at the door, and they unlocked the door and walked in. It was a bunch of sailors. They had keys to my house.

Physician: They had keys and the fellow that I'd bought the house from...

Wife: They asked where was so and so's name. They called her name or something that had lived there.

Physician: And the fellow I'd bought the house from was a cab driver, And he would go out and pick the fares up, and say, "You guys lookin' for a little action?" Says, "Yeah, what kind?" Says, "Girls." "Yeah," "I know a place." He'd take 'em to his house, and drop 'em off, and his wife would turn the trick. See, she'd be the prostitute. His wife was. And he'd go back and pick 'em up, and get their cab fare and take 'em back to where they wanted to go, plus the fringe benefit of his wife.

Wife: He called 'em all for her.

Physician: Yeah, so what happened, they broke up, and they were (unintelligible), but I had no idea what was going on.

Wife: He didn't know what was going on. He made a call

Physician: And I walked in one day, and he says, "Me and my old lady we're breaking up. Do you wanna buy a house? Do you know anybody that wants to buy a house?" I says, "Yeah, I'm lookin' for one." I'd just gotten married and my wife was gonna have a baby no, you hadn't had it yet.

Wife: No, you see, when you bought the house I was in the hospital. I'd never seen it. It was during the war. You couldn't buy a house. You couldn't even rent anything. So he just grabbed the first thing he could, and that was close to where his office was.

Physician: It was half a block from the office. And he said, "I'm bargaining for the house..." I said, "I'll take it." And he left the washing machines and refrigerators and things you couldn't get in those days. See, we changed the bedroom and living room furniture, got new furniture on the inside, but we kept the washing machine. It looked like a whore house!

Wife: You know, I didn't know better. I didn't know. Now if I walked into that same place I'd know exactly what it was.

Physician: But, or course, I wasn't home, she says people were coming in, and she says somebody came in and she just opened the door and they walked in. She had a key. I said, "What are ya talkin' about?" She had a key.

Wife: It was three sailors.

Physician: I said, "That takes care of that." I went down and got another lock, and threw the other lock away.

Wife: I had to change the lock, cause we didn't know who had the key. The kids would just come in to port...

Physician: And they were ready for action, see? They didn't even call the cab, they just went to the house. They had the key, see?

Interviewer: That's too much. That's really funny.

Physician: And for a long time after that, people would knock at the door and she wouldn't even answer the door, cause people come knock at the door says, "Is Francine here?" Whatever her name was. She'd say, "Francine don't live here anymore", go over and call the police, see, and they'd go away.

Interviewer: What started the girls into, did you, getting into prostitution?

Physician: Yeah, I asked a lot of 'em, "What possessed you to get into this business," and there was as many reasons a there were people. The biggest reason was a quick buck, a chance to make a lot of money, see? These girl made fabulous money they never could've made. No way could they have made it any other way. That was the biggest factor. Secondly, broken love affairs. She said they would come to Norfolk, and their "sailor boy" would probably be shipped out or maybe killed in action, and broken up, and they had no money, and what else was there to sell? That's all they had to sell.

Interviewer: How old were they? What was the average age in the house?

Physician: I'd say about eighteen, nineteen.

Wife: Oh, no, no. The average ones were the ones that you...

Physician: She's talkin' about the ones that came here.

Interviewer: No, the ones that worked at the house.

Physician: No, the average, I would say, would be twenty five, twenty six,

Wife: They weren't young kids.

Physician: After thirty years old, you'd say they were over the hill.

Interviewer: What happened to them?

Physician: They'd just quit, and would live a normal life, went out and married somebody. Lot of 'em got married right out o the houses. I mean, a fellow would come in, and meet them, and fall in love with them, and marry them. They'd take 'em out of the house, and go live a normal life.

Wife: I was in two of their homes, and one home was furnished by an interior decorator from Washington D.C. That was the man that we saw with one of the girls. Beautiful homes. They had very exclusive rugs, and the type of furnishings in their homes was very expensive.

Interviewer: Was their standard of living higher than (unintelligible.)

Wife: It was very high.

Physician: Yeah, it was high. They lived high. They lived higher than the average girl workin' as a secretary, much higher. The girl who was a secretary couldn't keep up with her. In fact, the highest paid female worker nowadays couldn't keep up with these girls, I don't give a damn what she made. You show me a woman that made sixty thousand dollars, I'll show you a woman (inaudible).

Side 2

Interviewer: What about their background? They come from...

Physician: What are you talkin' about, their backround? You mean their family?

Interviewer: Yeah, mother, father, neighbors.

Physician: You name it. You name it, that's where they come from. Doctors wives, doctors daughters, lawyers, thieves, murderers, businessmen, admirals, captains, generals.

Interviewer: Did they cut their ties with their families?

Physician: Most of them did not. Their family thought that they were living in Norfolk working as a seamstress, or as a secretary, or government job at the base.

Interviewer: Did they know how much they made?

Physician: Well, the family didn't know what they were making. I'm sure they didn't go home and throw a thousand dollar bill on the table like lettuce leaves. They went home and they acted the way they were supposed to act at their home. They left their money and all their worldly goods in Norfolk.

Interviewer: What do you think the effect of the Depression had on them?

Physician: I don't know. I don't know what happened during the depression. This was after the depression, I'm talking about 1939 now.

Interviewer: If these girls were about twenty-five, they would have been workin' the houses. Five years.

Physician: No, about eight years. They hit 'em when they're about seventeen, eighteen. It's usually about the time that most of 'em joined up was when they were about sixteen, seventeen, eighteen. Sixteen-year-old girls that looked like they were about twenty-one. And they went in and told the madam they were twenty, twenty-one, see? Old enough when you're eighteen. Whatever the age limit was (unintelligible).

Wife: Most of them did look older than that.

Physician: Yeah, most of 'em were, their physical build, and their physical appearance showed them to be older than they actually were, see? They were sixteen and they looked like they were twenty-one. I'm sure a lot of them were depression prostitutes, if you want to classify 'em as that, but they went into that cause there was nothin' else, but then the depression was well gone, well buried by 1939, and hell, you could get all the girls you wanted. So, I wouldn't say the depression would be a factor. In an isolated case it would be, of course.

Interviewer: You don't think that was a reason for going into...

Physician: No, I don't think so. I don't think so. I doubt that the depression would be that big a factor. Like I said, it could be, but from what I know, what I was exposed to, I'd say that the ability to make money was the biggest factor. The fact that they could go out and make X number of dollars a night, and

Interviewer: Were they educated? High school?

Physician: Some of 'em had college education. Some of 'em were ex-teachers, nurses, you name it and there was one of them in there someplace. (Phrase unintelligible). Some of 'em might even have been nuns as far as I know. I don't know, it's hard to say.

Interviewer: Did you see many psych problems with them? Did they come to you...

Physician: They were rare. Psych problems were rare, cause you could not be a psych and work at a grueling profession, and if you were a psych it didn't take long... They under the strain, but by and far, the girls were pretty level headed, and pretty smart, and pretty business-like. They were cool characters. I mean, they had plenty of solid "fire on the ball". They weren't just "W's". The professional prostitute if she had gone into business would have been a success, I think, the ones I saw.

Interviewer: Did they ever come to you? … You said they kept children, you said they took over each other's children and raised...

Physician: A lot of them had their own children when they started. Mary, for example, got married when she was 16, or 17, or 18, and her husband was a drunk, or turned out to be a poor provider, and a bum.

Wife: She also had two children. Were they hers?

Physician: No.

Wife: Are these the ones she took, she claimed these children as hers?

Physician: No, yes, she claimed them as hers. They weren't her children, she never had any children. But some of the madams had children. They knew what their mother was doing. They knew what profession their mother was in.

Wife: We did find a foster home for two children once.

Physician: Well, I helped a lot of them. A lot of them would come to me. There was, say one of the girls had a small baby but she didn't want to raise the baby, and asked if I would know of any family that would be interested in adopting the baby, and I would have the baby examined to make sure the baby was alright, and recommend to a friend of mine or someone I knew would make a good parent for them to contact their lawyer, and then I would tell the girl to contact a certain lawyer (name given here).

Wife: The ones I'm talking about were the ones who just wanted foster homes, where they would take them on weekends.

Physician: Well, yeah, some of them did that. Some of them just had foster homes. I'm talking about children, I'm talking about 2 or 3 year olds, I'm not talking about teenagers, I'm talking about infants. They had the foster home, they'd put them in a certain home. The people that were taking care of the child knew what she was doing. Let's say, for example, that I would accept the child, the children, and the mother of the two children came to me and wanted me to take care of the two children. Then I would say, "Well, you pay me x numbers of dollars a week, then I'll take care of your children." But these foster homes knew that these people were prostitutes, they knew what they were doing for a living. They didn't care if you knew about it, they didn't care. They'd tell you, "I'm hustlin' downtown and can't take care of these two kids; can you take care of them for me? I'll pay you six dollars a week or sixty dollars a week," or whatever.

Interviewer: They more or less kept to themselves, they really weren't integrated?

Physician: They were self-ostracized. They kept away from everybody. They didn't hang around too much with the straight people, as a general rule. A lot of them did, a lot of them had homes they went to at night, as I told you before. This one woman had three children, and they all looked like the husband. I don't mean no guesswork, there was no question about who they were, who was the father. Today these kids don't know what their mother did, they're grown and have kids of their own today.

Interviewer: Their fathers knew.

Physician: Father is dead.

Interviewer: But he knew at the tine.

Physician: Oh, yeah, of course, he was the pimp. He used to take her down and pick her up. Take her to work, and go back and get her a two o'clock in the morning, while the maid stayed with the kids. He worked, maybe he was at the base, or maybe he was a construction worker, or whatever.

Interviewer: The kids went to school. They had no stigma, nobody knew what their mother was doing. The kids certainly didn't know.

Interviewer: What about the women in Norfolk? You know, the upper class women.

Physician: You mean did they hustle, too?

Interviewer: No, did they frown upon this? Make waves?

Physician: I don't think they even knew what was going on. The ones that did know frowned on it. I'm sure a lot of them DID know.

Interviewer: But it was so obvious!

Physician: Well, I don't know, but I imagine, you'd have to ask them, but they felt that it was the lesser of two evils. That either they had red light districts where these girls stayed and worked, and drew the element that was attracted by that particular type or profession away from their homes and their children. They were, I guess, more or less grateful for the fact that they got somebody that kept these undesirables away from their children. I imagine that was the way they felt, that was certainly the impression I got. So that the ones that did know about it shrugged their shoulders and looked the other way.

Interviewer: Were you married patients as sophisticated as your prostitutes in means of birth control, and?

Physician: No, I don't think so. I don't think that the average woman who came often had as much savoir faire as the prostitute. They had it down to a science, they had to. Otherwise, they stayed in trouble all the time. In other words, they got pregnant, and, hell, every time they got pregnant of course that meant an abortion for them, or else go out of town to have the baby. So, they knew all the methods. They used to school the young girls, the new girls that came in, they'd school them, teach them the proper methods of prophylactics.

Interviewer: So where did the married woman have to turn? Did she just have baby after baby?

Physician: What do you mean the married woman?

Interviewer: The married woman, not a prostitute, of the same age group...

Physician: The married woman, as a general rule, wanted three or four children, I imagine, and they were just a little bit careful.

Wife: Well, that was the day of the diaphragm.

Physician: That's right. They had diaphragms in those days, and they had rubbers, and they had the cream.

Interviewer: Were they sophisticated enough to?

Physician: Not as sophisticated as the hustlers, as the prostitutes, I don't think. In fact, I'm sure they weren't. 'Cause these girls had methods that would amaze even the medical profession. But the average woman who came into the office knew only what she had been told.

Interviewer: How open were they in talking to you as a physician, not the prostitutes but your average patient?

Physician: There was no shyness. If they wanted to know something, they'd come out and ask me.

Interviewer: Would they specifically ask you?

Physician: Oh, sure. There was no problem, there was no Victorian attitude.

Wife: It's about the same as what they'd do today.

Interviewer: Really?

Wife: Oh, sure.

Physician: I'll give you a for instance. Now, a woman came in one time and inadvertently I told her, "I've got to examine you. Take your pants off and get up on the table." Well, stop and think. "Take your pants off," that's a helluva thing to say to a woman, you know. And her husband standing right there alongside of her. She turned to him and said, "Did you hear what he said to me!?" He said, "Well, get your damned pants off and get on the table 'cause I'm in a hurry to get out of here. I don't want to spend the night." She was embarrassed that I had more of less ordered her to take her pants off, it wasn't a question of "Will you". So you had your Victorian type. But generally, if the patient had a question to ask you, they didn't hesitate.

They'd be a little bit embarrassed but they'd ask anyquestion you can think of, that was asked, of a doctor.

Interviewer: I'm really surprised. Did you do pre-marital physicals, or see girls before they were married?

Physician: We did physicals, but we did not do pelvics. There's a difference. You're talking about two different "animals". You didn't do pelvics on a girl who was apparently a virgin. You did physicals, you did heart, lungs, you felt the outside of the stomach, but you didn't do an internal examination. I didn't, anyway.

Interviewer: Who told... How sophisticated was your patient going into marriage?

Physician: Well, you didn't get but very, very, very few pre-marital physicals. Usually, they just let nature takes it course. And then they would come in AFTER they were married, then you could do a pelvic.

Wife: What she was thinking of was when the pill came out. After the pill came out they had to go at least a couple of months before they got married to get started, for the pill to have the effect, so that's why you get more pre-marital examinations and things like this than you did before they had the pill.

Interviewer: I was wondering where they got their information about sex? How open they were even with a physician, even with their own personal physician?

Physician: Unmarried ones... They weren't as liberal as they are today.

Interviewer: I'm wondering where they found their information.

Physician: Thirty-five years ago and today is two different ball games.

Interviewer: Where did they get their information?

Physician: I don't know. Certainly not from their mothers.

Interviewer: This is what I mean. Their mothers didn't...

Physician: Got it from each other, I guess, by word of mouth. Two girls would get together and discuss whatever girls discuss, I don't know. I haven't the slightest idea.

Interviewer: But they were quite frank with you? They'd ask you direct questions?

Physician: Any question you'd think of they'd ask me.

Interviewer: Yet, sex was so hush-hush.

Physician: Yes, you're right, sex was hush-hush. When you said the word "sex" you said it in soft syllables. You didn't say hard SEX like they do today. And I think the change is dramatic from what it was 35 years ago, at least in the doctors office.

Interviewer: Did they approach you directly with a problem, or did they kind of say, you know.

Physician: As a general rule, they stuttered and stammered "B-b-b-..."

Interviewer: And you figured that was below the navel.

Physician: Yeah, then I knew we had entered private territory, territory of the privates,whichever. But in the last ten years I've had, hell, they walk in and say, "I'm gonna take the pill, how about doing a pelvic on me, do the Pap Smear on me so I can take the pill." Just that point blank. And there was no second guessing them as to why she was taking the pill. She was taking the pill because she was going to be promiscuous, because she was going to have sex. That did not occur 35 years ago.

Interviewer: Thirty-five years ago, where did you get a diaphragm? Did you get it from the physician?

Physician: The doctor fitted you with a diaphragm.

Interviewer: Did they come in, were they able to...

Physician: Unmarried ones?

Interviewer: Married women.

Physician: Married women, that was no problem, she'd come in and say, "I want to be fitted with a diaphragm" just as I'm telling you right now, or else "My old diaphram got torn up" or rotted or "I want a new diaphragm." That's all, there was no b-b-b, it was right out. Now this girl was married, married people are supposed to use diaphragms, so they weren't discussing anything that was...

Wife: They would examine you, and a lot of times you'd be pregnant, and they'd say "That's like lockin' the barn door after the horse runs away". That's what they said to me.

Physician: You cannot get pregnant after you're already pregnant.

Interviewer: Somebody said that black people used pregnancy as a means of birth control.

Physician: Yeah, that's right, I believe that.

Wife: Not only that, but as long as she nursed the child for two years, until the child was two years old, she still didn't get pregnant while she was nursing the child.

Physician: Risk of pregnancy was less - less chance.

Interviewer: I'm just really surprised to find… I think of my mother, let's see she was born in 1915, that makes her around 58 now, somehow I just can't picture her in 1935 whispering... you ought to see her when we have to go to the doctor now. I just can't see how...

Wife: I don't think you sat there embarrassed to even go and talk to the doctor, I don't think that's it.

Physician: Now, not being a woman I just can't answer that question.

Wife: It's just that you don't like to go. I find myself, I'm the same way, I'll wait two or three years before I go for my checkup and then I go, and I get balled out that I should know better being a doctor's wife.

Interviewer: But looking at her age group, she's very... Sex doesn't exist. I mean, she's had three kids, but I don't know how they got here. I mean I probably know more about how they got here than she did, and I was just wondering if this reflected how...

Physician: You'd be surprised how much your mother knows. Don't sell your mother short. She may give you the impression, 'cause she may want you to think that.

Interviewer: And that's why I can't imagine her discussing it with her physician at that time.

Physician: Ah, but there's a difference. When a woman walks into a doctor's office, she's in a different world, she's in a protected shell as opposed to discussing sex in the street or in a home. I've had women say to me, "You're not a man, you're a doctor."

Interviewer: And, yet, this wasn't something she'd talk over with her girlfriends, or with her own mother?

Wife: Not with her mother, she would with her girlfriends.

Physician: The things she would tell me she would not discuss with ANYBODY, not even look in the mirror and discuss it with herself, Because I'm not a man, I'm not a human being, I'm a doctor. You understand? You get the inference? In other words, the M.D. masks everything. I'm supposed to know all these things, I'm supposed to listen to all these questions, I'm supposed to have all the answers. All I am is an information source.

Interviewer: But she did seek the information?

Physician: She sought the information, she had to have it, she couldn't go to anybody else, she knew she couldn't go to anybody else to find out what she wanted to know, she had to come to me. So, in her mind I was not a man, I was not a sex symbol. I was a caduceus, so to speak.

Wife: I feel the same way about my own mother. I can't discuss sex with my mother, not even today. I couldn't do it, but I can with my daughter. No, I always said I would never bring up my daughter like my mother brought me up, because she never told us anything. What we found out we had to find out on the outside.

Interviewer: Which is about the same with my mother. You know... sex?

Physician: You said the word "sex", she blushed. Go wash your mouth.

Interviewer: "Didn't I teach you better than that?"

Physician: But, when you talk about a doctor-patient relationship, you talk about a different world. I've had women say to me, "You know, I do things in front of you that I wouldn't do in front of my husband."

Wife: It's like going to a priest. You go to confession, you go to your doctor. He can't divulge any of the information you give him.

Physician: You go to a preacher, or whatever, it all depends on what religion you are.

Wife: This is why most women can open up when they go to the doctor.

Physician: You know when you tell him it comes to a dead, screaming halt, that's as far as it's going. So you can sit there and tell him your problem, your preacher.

Interviewer: Would they be open about sex problems that they were having with their husbands? Taboos? Impotence? And seek advice?

Physician: Yeah, and seek advice. Seek a cure. Seek some way of correcting it. One of the biggest hang-ups was women would come who couldn't get pregnant. Wondering if they were having intercourse wrong, or if something was wrong with them, or something wrong with their husband, or whatever, and it was open,there was no embarrassment, no nothing, they'd come point blank out and tell you, "I have a problem. Can you help me?" Or else, "My husband is sexually dead. I'm passionate and want some companionship. Can you help my husband?" Usually, the the husband would come in and he would be the one embarrassed. He'd sit there and shuffle his feet, "Well, I gotta tell you somethin', but I don't know how to start." I'd say, "I know, it's dead," and he'd say "Yeah, yeah." I think the women were a lot more open about discussing sex. Outside the office, they were a different person, but inside the office they did discuss it with a doctor.

Interviewer: Their dress, even, wasn't that...

Physician: You know, doctors talk among themselves without mentioning names. And some patients come off with these ridiculous things that you wouldn't even think existed.

Interviewer: You had already said that you didn't think the incidence of premarital sex was that great.

Physician: I think it was a rarity. It existed, of course.

(Interview breaks here)

Physician: When I first came back, I was discharged from the Navy, I took over the VD clinic. Of course, then my job was to examine the girls at the jail, what she'd been doing. Of course, she resented my being head waiter. We couldn't work together.

Wife: We couldn't work together. I wanted to do it my way, 'cause I'd been doing it that way for a whole year.

Physician: She wanted to do it her way, and I wanted to do it the way I was taught. Being that I was supposed to be the top banana, I'd tell her she'd have to do it a certain way, but of course we had a lot of arguments. Course I started dating her, and that made all the difference in the world. I didn't care how she did it after that, and I had to pick her up at the clinic, and take her over to the jail, and examine 'em, the girls, you know, that were picked up the night before had to be examined, eight, nine, ten girls or whatever was there, and of course I'd hug her and kiss her on the staircase, that's why I say we were courtin' in jail.

Interviewer: She made an interesting comment that if her mother ever knew what she was doing in the evil city of Norfolk, they would have come down.

Wife: You know, another thing too, I wanted to ask you this. Do you remember the matron of the city jail at that time?

Physician: Ms. Stewart?

Wife: No, I don't remember her name, but she at one time was a madam.

Physician: No, I don't know her.

Wife: She was a madam, but she looked like she was a woman near sixty or so, and she was and she was a matron.

Physician: No, Ms. Stewart was a nurse.

Wife: No, I'm talkin' about the matron, the jail matron.

Physician: Yeah, I knew about her, but I didn't remember what her name was.

Wife: She used to be, at one time, she was a madam.

Physician: She saw the light, so she went to the jail.

Interviewer: And got knew recruits or what?

Physician: I don't know.

Interviewer: Yeah, that might have been a recruiting station. How many prostitutes were there in Norfolk? Large numbers, small numbers, or what? Not the ones walking the streets, but…

Physician: Well, the ones walkin' the streets, God knows how many there were.

Interviewer: Yeah, you couldn't tell.

Physician: But the professionals, I'd say in excess of three hundred.

Interviewer: And the population (unintelligible) in Norfolk around that time?

Physician: The population that grew after that was about a hundred and twenty five thousand.

Wife: That was about 1941, 1942, right?

Physician: '39,'4O, '41, '42. In '41, we had a population explosion where we had from about, I'd say, twenty four, twenty five thousand sailors to close to a hundred thousand, I guess. I don't know.

Wife: And that's when the families were coming here.

Interviewer: You got here in '39. How well established was Bank Street or East Main Street at that time:

Physician: Oh, it'd been in operation for years.

Interviewer: Just had always been there.

Physician: Yeah, it'd been there as long as, I'd say, at least then years or better. I don't know exactly the number of years, but when I got here in '39, it was established, and the way I got exposed to the house of prostitution, I met a shore patrolman who was in charge (unintelligible) and we became very friendly, and I was curious and I said I'd go with him. I was a stranger in town, from the North, and I was interning at the time, and at nights I had no place else to go, so I'd go with the shore patrol, and his job was to go from house to house, each house, that was his rounds. It was just like a mild route, and check to make sure everything was in order, and everything was under control, they were having no problems, and course I got to meet some of the madams, some of the girls that worked there. One day, they had a fight. Now this must've been in 1940. Two of the girls got into a fight, and one of 'em stabbed the other with a pair of scissors, and punctured her lung. And they brought her into the hospital where I was interning and I spent two whole hays in that room pulling that girl out of the fire. I mean I practically specialled her because she just tottered, she just layed there, and we'd give her a transfusion, and she'd bleed in the lung, and we'd draw out the blood from the lung, and give her another tranfusion, and try to keep her balance of life there, see, and she finally made it. Course, word got out that the little Italian doctor at DePaul has heart, he'll take care of you, he doesn't care what you do for a livin'. He looks at you as a patient, and when I got to going around with this chief (unintelligible)the intern at the hospital, see? Well, some of the girls that were prostitutes had a falling out with their pimps, they would commit suicide. Of all the Goddam ways to commit suicide, they'd take bichloride, which they used as douche. Bichloride of mercury tablets? They'd use that as a douche. They'd mix bichloride solution and douche with it after intercourse, after what they called "a trick". It's a deadly poison. The girls would commit suicide by taking bichloride. So, I remember one specific that they brought in there, blew like a toad. She had what your'd call a Renal shut down. She completely stopped producing any urine at all, and she blew up, and that's another one I stayed with and finally pulled her out of the fire. Not my ability, but just, you know, it helps when you look up and you see someone who you trust. Whether you're doing it or not is insignificant, but, as far as I'm concerned, you're doin' your... you're a miracle man, the fact that you're a doctor and you're standing around watching 'em, see? And she got better. She went back, of course, and put the word out that I was all right.

Interviewer: Why was the choice bichloride of mercury?

Physician: Cause it was available.

Interviewer: I've always heard of vinegar.

Physician: You can't kill yourself with vinegar.

Wife: No, she's talkin' about douches.

Physician: Oh douches. As a… it kills, not germicidal but spermicidal.

Wife: They used this for their men.

Physician: The men would use it to wash off, too.

Wife: Right, they'd take the thing in tablet form because we often used it in the clinic.

Interviewer: What'd you use them for at the clinic?

Wife: We used them for.. .see, we used to do a lot of pelvics, and, you know the speculums (unintelligible) it kills all the germs.

Physician: Yeah, when you lay the speculum right down on the table you take a chance of contaminating yourself or somebody else.

Wife: You wash your hands with this, too.

Interviewer: How was it on your hands?

Physician: It didn't hurt. The difference was between taken' a whole tablet and makn' a weak solution.

Wife: See, we had a solution of water, it was just a pan of water...

Physician: And you'd drop one tablet in maybe two gallons, whatever proportion.

Interviewer: They used it as birth control.

Physician: THEY used it as birth control.

Interviewer: Unless they decided to commit suicide with it.

Physician: That's right. Well, I had maybe three or four deaths from bichloride suicide in the two years I was at the hospital.

Interviewer: Did the hospital take care of them?

Physician: Oh yeah. See, it was a Catholic hospital, and the nuns were naive, and they were dedicated people. They didn't know what the score was. And these girls would come in, and the word would get out that they were prostitutes, And they'd go and pray for 'em, and tell them to change their way of sin and life, their sinful way of life, and go back to their families, and try to convert them.

Wife: Well, I don't think the sisters even knew.

Physician: Well, some of 'em got word of it. They'd go in there and they'd try some way to convert these back to what they considered a good, honest, law-abiding citizen, and of course, prostitution was never considered an honorable profession anyway, so no matter how you look at it, it was looked on with disdain.

Interviewer: Saint Vincent's was DePaul then, and where was it located?

Physician: It was located on Church and Wood.

Interviewer: That area is pretty rough now.

Physician: It doesn't even exist now.

Interviewer: No, I'm talking about lower Church Street. It's pretty hairy. It's still there.

Physician: Well, this portion of Church Street, you know where Brambleton Avenue is? Okay, between Brambleton Avenue and City Hall. Ninety nine percent of that's been knocked down.

Wife: The hospital has been knocked down?

Physician: Oh, yeah,. You know the pillars in front of the Masonic Temple?

Wife: They came from Old St. Vincent's hospital

Interviewer: Did they really?

Physician: The marble that's on the Masonic Temple came from St. Vincent's, the granite came from old St. Vincent's. Reason I know is because the marble manufacturer or marble processor here was a friend of mine, and he told me that if the Pope knew that the pillars were from the old St. Vincent's hospital, that were standing in front of a Masonic Temple, he'd have a conniption, See?

Interviewer: The masons might, too.

Physician: No, the mason's knew it. They didn't care. It was just some sort of a joke that didn't amount to much. A lot of the marble and granite came from old St. Vincent's hospital when they tore it down. This fellow salvaged it, and recut it, and polished it.

Wife: If the Pope thought that they got some money for it, maybe he wouldn't say anything.

Interviewer: He may have made a good deal.

Physician: Yeah, he may have.

Interviewer: So, hospital-wise then, St. Vincent's was in close proximity to the area.

Physician: Ninety nine percent of them went to St. Vincent's hospital when they got hurt, either accidents, or P.I.D. infection, which is a pelvic inflammatory disease from infection from gonorrhea or whatever. And they usually ended up at St. Vincent's

Interviewer: They knew they could get care there without...

Physician: Oh, yeah. No question about it. There was no discrimination because they were prostitutes. They got just the same, in fact, they got better care, cause they could afford it. See, that's when the madam would step in, cause a lot of these girls would squander their money on their pimps or them selves, buy beautiful clothes or expensive cars, and when it came to hospitalization, they had none. And, in those days, you run a bill for three, four, five hundred dollars, that was a tremendous bill. And the madam would step in and pay, get the girl back, take care of her, nurse her back to health, and if she wanted to go back to work, she went back, and if she didn't, she just went along about her business. Well, you know the old conception of these madams grabbing these girls and twisting their arms and beating them with a stick and making 'em work and so on and so forth. That was not true. The madams beat the hell out of these girls, but they had specific reasons for doin' it, not because they wouldn't work, cause the girls were free to go as they saw fit. They worked, and if they didn't feel like working, they didn't work. Course, if they did it too many times, the madam would either fire 'em or beat the hell out of 'em to bring 'em in live. "Either you're going to work, or if you're not going to work, you can get out."

Wife: That's like white slavery.

Physician: Well, it was white slavery, no question about that. It was white slavery, but it wasn't the old-timey conception of a house of prostitution where the girls lived in the house and NEVER went anyplace, the kind where the girls cracked the drapes and peeped out the window. These girls got dressed and walked down the steps. In other words, suppose Mr. Big came in, and Mr. Big was from Texas and had four, or five or six hundred dollars he wanted to spend, and he was lonesome and didn't want to go to a hotel for the might, so he would come by and say to the madam, "I want so for tonight. How much?" She'd say, "Two hundred dollars for the night," and she would say, "Aright, get dressed and we'll go out of town." And he would take her to a motel room or else he'd bring her back, whatever was his pleasure. But he bought that girl for the night for x number of dollars, whether it was two hundred, three hundred, five hundred, or what. These madams were sharp, you couldn't pull the wool over their eyes. If they thought you had a lot of money, then you paid according to what they willed. If they thought you had $5oo, then that's what it cost you.

Wife: Also, the dress shops, the better dress shops in town, loved to see these girls come in. They had their own places where they shopped and they would buy the most expensive clothes.

Physician: Yeah, they had beautiful clothes, they were dressed fit to kill. They didn't buy cheap clothes. Ninety percent of them.

Wife: They knew who they were, too. They knew, they catered to them.

Physician: They knew, there was two or three of the shops in town...

Interviewer: Wouldn't there be some conflict between the upper class ladies, you know?

Physician: No.

Wife: They didn't know who they were.

Physician: The ones who did know were embarrassed or miffed and turned and walked out.

Wife: I can give an example. Once, one came to visit us Remember, the madam? She would not come until ten o'clock at night, because she did not want anyone in my neighborhood (you see, the men knew her), and she did not want...

Interviewer: They couldn't say anything!

Wife: Yes, but you see she didn't want to embarrass me. She came to my house, I had never seen her before. This was when... I had lost a baby once, and I was home from the hospital and she wanted to come to see me. She called to say she wanted to see me and that she would come at ten o'clock at night because she didn't want any of my neighbors seeing her come into my house.

Physician: Well, she wanted to come by and pay her respects.

Wife: Because, he had been taking care of her. Took care of her, her children, and everything. So, when she came to my house I couldn't wait to see what she looked like.

Physician: She was expecting an old hag to walk in. She walked in and looked like one of the neighbors next door.

Wife: She was just like one of my neighbors next door.

Physician: You couldn't tell, unless you knew, you couldn't tell.

Wife: And a very intelligent woman, too. Very well read.

Physician: Very well read and sharp as a tack.

Wife: I couldn't believe it,

Physician: Like I said, had she gone into business other than a house of prostitution, she still would have been a success.

Interviewer: What brought the madams in, into the business they were in? They're different from the other girls.

Physician: They used to be hustlers. In other words, they started out from the bottom of the ladder as hustlers, as prostitutes. And because of their ability and their good business sense, they worked up and got their own house.

Interviewer: Saved their money and invested?

Physician: Yes, because it was and investment. I imagine it would take, I'd say 25 thousand dollars to get into business.

Wife: Well, don't you think they had their own customers? That is, they came for them?

Physicians: The madams?

Wife: Yes, like this one I'm talking about. Now she had to...

Physician: No, no, no, I doubt it, I don't think so. I think she was past the stage. She was a business woman, it was a business with her, no different than raising cattle. I don't believe she had any desire to be one of the girls.

Interviewer: She had been at one time.

Physician: At one time. But she was probably worn out, so to speak. And sex to her was just...

Wife: Now, you have had some who actually enjoyed it. There were some who actually enjoyed it and others who only did it as a business.

Physician: The nymphos, but they didn't last

Interviewer: What happened to them?

Physician: They'd wear out, they just exhausted themselves. These girls, they'd tell me, they didn't have orgasm with a man. They would just have intercourse; it was just a business. They just laid there until they had fulfilled a man's desire, and then they just took the next one. But these nymphos had orgasm with every man.

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