The Aunts – A Short-Short Story


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The Aunt’s and the “World’s Oldest Profession”
A True Short-Short Story…

 
In the early 1800s, the hectic harbor in Mobile, Alabama was bustling with upriver planters who came to town for the annual cotton-marketing season. Along the waterfront a variety of establishments from boarding houses, hotels, saloons and other places know as the gentlemen’s entertaining facilities, as a group they were known as “Shakespeare’s Row”. During the South’s Antebellum Era prostitution ranked right up there with vagrancy and public intoxication. It later became a prohibition of any disorderly behavior public or privately. The fines for “keeping a disorderly house” ranged from $10 to $25; there were no consistent laws on the subject.

 
It was during mid-1850, when my Aunt Molly and Modena Veste found themselves visiting a distant cousin in Mobile near the waterfront. They had inherited a hotel outside Birmingham, Alabama and after working night and day for months decided to give themselves a vacation. Leaving the Veste Hotel in the capable hands of their hired staff off the two went on their seashore retreat.

 
It was toward the end of their stay when they ventured onto the waterfront and Shakespeare’s Row. Neither Molly nor Modena wavered from having a good time. When they inherited their Aunt Ira’s Hotel the entire family encouraged them to turn their lives around and make a living running the upper-class establishment.
It was during that trip to Mobil that the idea of turning the Veste Hotel into a “Gentleman’s Club” became a reality. They did not identify themselves with the Shakespeare Row prostitutes, but they did discover since their youth their need to pander with men.

 
These two young women catered to the wealthy, cards, cigars and liquor became the enticement. Upon paying a substantial monthly fee to join, a daily fee deposited at the door would give the gentleman their choice of available “Ladies of Pleasure” or “Ladies of Easy Virtue” for one hour. The city agreed to turn their heads to these nightly “Whore Parties” for a reasonable tax! A wink and a nod condoned and protected prostitution at the Veste Hotel for almost 50 years.

 
Therefore, Miss Molly and Miss Modena brought the red-light district to Northern Alabama. It was one of the few buildings left standing when Yankee troops pilfered their way through the south. The women that worked in the hotel were not cheap, but to test the virtuous caverns of the Veste sisters’ could be costly.

 

2017©elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

Author: Elizabeth Ann Johnson-Murphree

Artist/Writer of Fiction, Poetry, Prose and Thoughts, Opinions Author Bio Born in Alabama to a Native American (Chickasaw) father and an emotionally absent mother since birth, raised by father, a Native American great-grandmother and an African-American woman whom were all grand storytellers. As early, as four years old, I was roaming the countryside around our home alone or with my father; in the evenings I sat at the feet of these strong-minded individuals listening to the stories of their lives. Summers I lived with my fathers' sister in Birmingham, Alabama; it was she that would help to discover a library, and mingle with my aunt's circle of friends that included local writers, artist, and politicians. A cabin deep within the Black Warrior Forest was also my playground on weekends. My aunt encouraged my imagination by introducing me to journaling, which I filled Big Chief Tablets with stories over the summer. Planted was the desire to write, a seedling waiting to spurt from the warm southern heart of a child. Nonetheless, with adulthood, the desire to write buried itself deep within, the dream wilted but did not die. It laid dormant, gaining experiences. These experiences became short stories and poetry ready to share with anyone who would want to read them. I began painting as a child and later as an adult, and then it lay dormant for years. I write of many life experiences in poetry format; questioning everything from Mother Nature to God...the poetry is raw, sometimes dark and may not be understood by all. Yet, it comes from deep within and reads of truth within my soul. The harshness that shrouded my life would cause me to withdraw from most of the world; it fills the pages of my writing, the heartache, the abuse, and the denial of a mother, all frankly portrayed. Today, I enjoy my children, grand and great grandchildren, my four-legged companion Mason, I live in Southern Wisconsin...far from my southern roots; however, I continue to write and paint almost daily. Below are the books that I have published in paperbacks at Amazon.com, under the name of Ann Johnson-Murphree: Book #1 Echoing Images from the Soul 2012 Book #2 Beyond the Voices 2012 Book #3 Reflections of Poetry 2013 Book #4 Honeysuckle Memories 2013 Book #5 Sachets of Poetry on Adoration, Anger, Asylums and Aspirations 2014 Book #6 My Journey into Art 2014 Book #7 Fragments of Time 2017 Book #8 Rutted Roads 2016 Book #9 Asterial Thoughts 2017 Book #10 Flying with Broken Wings 2017

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