Tag Archives: arment rooms

coercion & criminality (morality and sex work part four)

Writers and writing teachers have this saying: you can only get to the universal through the specific. That’s what this post is about: stories of two women in Wallace. The first is about a madam who was convicted for trafficking in 1912, and the second is about a woman who worked in the Arment Rooms for a brief time during the post WWII heyday in the mid-1950s.

I’ve been thinking a lot about sex work and criminality during these past few posts and the discussions they’ve prompted with others in my life. On the one hand: some of the anti-legalization side of the discussion sounds paternalistic, like “you might have thought that you freely chose sex work, but you actually didn’t know what was good for you, girl.” This perspective basically asserts that women unknowingly fall into the trap of prostitution. They are “rescued” and informed that they had been manipulated into thinking that they chose sex work, but in reality they had been trafficked. This language conflates sex work and trafficking. As I have mentioned before, proponents of this point of view often refuse the possibility that any woman could freely choose sex work by referring to all women who sell sex as “prostituted women.”

It reminds me of the moral panic rhetoric leading up to the passage of the Mann Act in 1910. This law made it a federal offense to transport a woman across state lines for “immoral purposes.” It was also called the “white slave traffic act,” a phrase that arose during progressive era social hygiene reform. Many vulnerable women who ran into financial insecurity, often immigrants, were coerced into prostitution and felt unable to leave even when not physically constrained because they would bear the stigma of immorality. From the mostly sensational stories you read about this time, it’s unclear whether many of the women were trafficked or just needed a way out. The Mann Act targeted “procurers” (we would now call them pimps) and declared these “inmates of bawdy houses” victims. The law effectively absolved the women of moral responsibility and framed them as “saved.”

In Wallace, there was a madam named Effie Rogan who ran a house called the Reliance from 1895-1911. Here’s what she looked like in 1906:

photo courtesy university of idaho library special collections

photo courtesy university of idaho library special collections

Effie’s brothel was located at 510 Pine Street from 1891-1904, at which point she moved to the triangle-shaped patch of land by the river near where the Depot is today. Like many who were selling sex back in these days, her housemates’ occupations were listed as dressmakers and hairdressers during the 1910 census. She was convicted of trafficking under the Mann Act in 1912.

It usually worked like this: procurers and madams lured women into town with promises of marriage or jobs like dressmaking and hairdressing, met them at the train station, then took away their clothes and raped them into feeling demoralized or “ruined.” It was also the case that many women were told they would have to work off their train tickets and then they entered into what amounted to indentured servitude, seldom able to pay off the original debt added to the constantly accruing room and board debt.

As is the case today, many anti-legalization advocates from back in those days had self-serving agendas. They passed around exaggerated stories meant to invoke pity, generate political influence, and of course they were also rewarded with attention and a sense of self-satisfied pleasure. But there were also those who felt called by God or their conscience to be a voice for others. They believed sex workers (or prostituted women) could not speak (or choose) for themselves. This perspective seems somewhat patronizing to me because as it frees the women from moral responsibility to spare them stigma, it also dismisses or invalidates what some women have to say about their experiences. When we conflate trafficking with sex work, I think it does a disservice to the women who believe and assert that they freely chose and continue to choose sex work.

On the other hand: it’s pretty horrible to imagine madams like Effie and her procurer colleagues profiting off of the misery of desperate women whose lives were so wrecked that many of them drank a small bottle of carbolic acid to die. And this situation continues in different ways for many women selling sex today. To legally qualify as a victim of sex trafficking, you have to be recruited, harbored, transported, delivered, or obtained for the purpose of commercial sex through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Or you have not yet turned 18 years old.

The 530 police records and rap sheets recording the appearance and background of the women working in the Silver Valley’s brothels from 1952-1973 offer evidence that some of them would have likely fallen into the category of trafficking through coercion. Two summers of doing this research has shown me that the conditions for women in Wallace seem to have been generally positive, but in the rest of this post I want to address the kind of conditions that led to the women finding themselves in Wallace in the first place.

The sheriff’s office files confirm that girls were turned away if their record came back from the FBI to reveal they were younger than 21 years old. Some slipped through the cracks, obviously, but there appears to have been an effort that exceeds due diligence. If the rap sheet showed indications of involvement with organized crime, they were also turned away. Some of them were material witnesses for Mann Act cases in other cities. So in terms of the law, some of the women were trafficked, since they had been caught up in Mann Act cases.

Many women had pimps in other towns. This was often noted in their records explicitly, as was the case for a woman who called herself “Kitty Black,” who was born in Chewelah, Washington in 1919 and found herself in Wallace for four months during the summer of 1956:

shoshone county sheriff's office files #705

shoshone county sheriff’s office files #705

The rap sheet notes that she was first picked up by the police in Spokane, Washington in 1940 and fined $25 for “city vag.” (used by many cities as code for prostitution, but it might also indicate homelessness or drug addiction). Eight months later, we find her in Grand Coulee, Washington, where she is again charged with vagrancy and told to leave town. Most likely, there was huge demand for sex work there during this time, when it was essentially a boom town because of the dam, according to the visitor’s guide website:

In the Grand Coulee, life changed dramatically and quickly once work on the dam began in 1933. Not only did the undertaking of this massive project change forever the shape of the river, but overnight it created towns where nothing but sagebrush, sand and rocks had previously existed. Thousands came to the Grand Coulee looking for work in the midst of the Depression. They worked around the clock to finish the dam by 1942.

During World War II, Kitty finds gainful employment with the War Department:

scso file #705

scso file #705

That’s right, she was a Rosie the Riveter. So were MANY of these women. We should really revise our collective understanding of Rosie the Riveter and think more about what happened to the actual women those images stand in for: many were in the sex industry both before and after the war. After all the patriotism and serving our country rhetoric, we were basically like, “thanks and good luck finding another job that pays a comparable wage.”

In 1945, Kitty is picked up for driving while drunk and grand theft in San Bernardino, California. She makes her way to San Diego shortly thereafter, is charged with being drunk, and serves a fifteen-day term in the city jail. Two years later, she’s back in Spokane where she is arrested for “Inv.,” which is short for investigation and means that she wasn’t charged with anything. (Wallace used this code for regulating prostitution. The rap sheets read “Inv” and then the charge was disposed of with the phrase “fingerprinted, mugged, and released,” or sometimes just “fmr.”) There is a noticeable gap between her 1947 Spokane arrest and 1956, when she comes to Wallace at the age of 37 to work in the Arment Rooms, but her record notes that she admits to having been a prostitute in Troy, Montana during 1955.

It’s unclear whether Kitty’s pimp coerced her into the business or whether he found her sometime along the way. Her file notes her pimp lived in Spokane, which is where she was first arrested, so both are possible. When women have pimps, it often indicates coercion—these are men who are incredibly skilled at targeting women, sometimes by trolling the jails and paying for them to be released. Others target young girls with an unstable family life, financial insecurity, runaways, “rebellious” girls, girls who have gained a reputation for sleeping around, or simply women who were raised in a way that was sheltered. These men know how to find and exploit vulnerability. Then they con their marks into thinking that they are loved so it may feel like a boyfriend kind of situation, or, as I mentioned above, they manipulate the women to feel like they can’t do any better, or they threaten to hurt their kids, or the women for whatever reason just feel like they owe these men something (and here I think the historic power of male supremacy in our culture comes into play as well). And then there is also often outright abuse. Lots of women who came through Wallace’s houses had men’s names tattooed on their bodies. These names were not their fathers or brothers or sons. These names were their pimps branding them.

Okay that’s probably enough for this post. Besides evidence that many of the women had pimps, are there other indications of coercion found in the 1952-1973 SCSO body of evidence?

— Many women who found themselves in the Wallace brothels might not have been actively “trafficked,” but likely felt coerced by their financial situation, like they didn’t have better options. The following other crimes show up on their rap sheets: narcotics, burglary, “obtaining money by false pretenses,” shoplifting, forgery, larceny, drunk and disorderly, “justifiable homicide,” drunk in public, embezzling, robbery, stolen credit cards, writing bad checks or “bogus checks.” (Now here I am doing that thing where I’m conflating a bit between trafficking and sex work, but I also believe economic coercion is a very tangible thing.) It’s really easy for just one disruptive life event to lead even a well-functioning, together person into a downward spiral of addiction or simply to knock them into financial insecurity. In Kitty’s case, it looks like she was an alcoholic after the war ended, and needed a means to support herself starting at least by the time she turned twenty-one.

— I need to look more into this, but there are several women who appear to have entered the sex industry from a place in California called the Ventura School for Girls, where they were labeled “wayward girl.” There is one other reference to a girl from an “orphan home,” but it seems unusual to me that this particular Ventura School for Girls shows up several times… Were they just more likely to end up in the sex industry already or was the school selling them off or providing some kind of pipeline? Was there a personal connection through one of the madams? Here’s what a quick search of the googleverses tells me:

The reformatory was a facility for wayward and sexually promiscuous young women; having a daughter incarcerated there was a great shame for any family. “Young women would go to very drastic measures in order to escape going to the Ventura School for Girls because of its bad reputation,” explains historian Elizabeth Escobedo. “There were women at the juvenile hall who… were swallowing safety pins the night before in order to get out of it.”

— And if you want to know more about Gayle Starr’s story, my former colleague and friend BP Morton dug a little more into that: it’s worth a read.

locations of wallace brothels 1891-1991: podcast episode, maps, and transcript

“About the widest open, most flagrantly and shamelessly wicked city for its size in America.”

Idaho Press, 3 September 1908,
qtd. in Cynthia Powell’s Thesis,
Beyond Molly B’Damn (1994), p. 144.

sanborn fire insurance maps of wallace through the years, with brothel locations in purple:





















transcript of podcast (and citations–see bibliography page for more information):

By 1891:

 “Liquor licenses were required and several women paid the standard fee of fifty-one dollars for a peimit. In Wallace, Grace Edwards, Ione Skeels (Broncho Liz), Lottie Wilmington, and Lizzie Williams all purchased liquor licenses that year.”[i] The one on the south side of Cedar at 7th was Carrie Young’s house, which was pretty big, comparably, employing eight women, according to Powell.

One of the Pine Street houses—on the southwestern corner of fifth and Pine was The Star, a high-class brothel owned and operated by Gracie Edwards and Jerome B. Smith, who also operated houses in Wardner. The Star on Pine Street [which employed about six women, according to Powell] in Wallace “entertained customers in an environment of relaxed luxury.” Edwards knew how to create “the ambiance upper-class brothel patrons required.”[ii]

In 1892:

11-13 women worked in Wallace’s brothels. Nine of those businesses were along Pine Street and they mainly “catered to a mining and logging population.” Between 40-60 women worked in town during this time.[iii]

By 1895, madams were increasingly subjected to arrests and routine fines and “several showed up in arrest records between 1893 and 1904. Wallace madams arrested for keeping houses of prostitution included Blanche Burnard, who was arrested four times, Effie Rogan who was arrested five times, and Jessie Stuart who had just one arrest.”[iv]

Between 1896 and 1901:

A large Saloon and Public Hall on the east side of sixth street near the river will turn into The Coliseum,” operated by Richard Daxon. It actually had a carousel stage, and men watched burlesque entertainment from a horseshoe-shaped gallery.[v] It was the largest of the theaters in town and could probably hold about one hundred people. “The Trilby,” “the Wigwam,” “the Arcade,” and “the Show Shop,” were other disreputable theaters during this era [1893-1904].[vi]

“In November 1900, a deliberate attempt to alter the location of prostitution was evident in the city council records. ‘Reverend Brown appeared before Council and presented a petition signed by one hundred two residents of the city, asking that all houses of prostitution be removed from Blocks Fifteen and Sixteen.’ [Between Cedar Street and the River, between 4th and 5th street. The fire maps don’t indicate any houses on block sixteen, but Gracie Edwards’s higher end one was on block fifteen.] It is likely that churches and schools, which had previously moved into that area of town, were finding the brothels and cabins frequented by prostitutes intolerable.”[vii] 


Is the first time Avenue A, the alley north of Cedar Street in Block 23, is featured on a map, although it’s probably the case that the Alley already had cribs established in the early 1890s.[viii]

Carrie Young’s house on 7th and Cedar where Samuels Hotel would later be is now gone, and she’s probably relocated to a “dressmaking” shop in the place where City Hall is now.[ix]

Around the turn of the century much of the sex work took place within the context of bawdy theaters and dance halls, which had high turnover rates and alcoholism.[x] “[M]adams lost their control over the sexual trade. Once allies and business associates of madams, powerful liquor dealers began to distance themselves from overt associations with madams. Mortgage records no longer evidenced madams borrowing money from liquor dealers. By 1901, county liquor licenses were prohibitively high at five hundred dollars per year.”[xi]


Most of the brothels have relocated to Block 23, the triangle patch of land north of Cedar Street between the river and sixth. It does appear that President Roosevelt’s 1903 visit was a catalyst for the geographical movement, but there had been a general movement of the town toward a more grounded and less transient lifestyle—churches and schools were moving into nearby areas on Pine Street near 5th and several petitions had already appeared before the city council during the preceding years, so it appears that the President’s visit was the excuse the town’s leaders needed to finally take action.

By May of 1903, an article in the Spokesman-Review would melodramatically proclaim:

The ‘fairies’ of scarlet color and deep shame have but one day more to reside in Wallace. Then Pine Street redlight district will be no more. The danger signal lights which hang out in front of the houses will be turned off; red curtains will be torn down; carousing, drunken men will be no longer heard in this portion of the town, which has long been filled with the lowest kind of life. All will be silence and darkness.[xii]

The headline and opening paragraph of this article suggest the complete closure of the red light district, but a careful reader from those days would have noticed the emphasis on the particular section of town. The final paragraph quietly adds that “The latest rumor, and it is believed to be true, is that the city officials wish to only change the redlight district to another section of the city,” mentioning block 23 as the future location.[xiii] The article ends by saying that because the city leaders don’t want to be in the business of determining who is allowed to live in Wallace and who isn’t, and “it is generally believed they are willing to allow these women who ply their trade to establish in a new district.”[xiv] It’s unclear exactly what this concession accomplishes, aside from countering the idea that the mayor can and should run some women out of town on the basis of their moral character; the paper now appears to be making a “live and let live” sort of argument to the reading public.

A May 22 article more explicitly connects vice district reformation to Roosevelt’s visit, giving the impression that the houses are shutting down temporarily—most of the girls have been instructed to leave town with the understanding that construction for housing will begin along the river east of 6th street, “immediately after the reception of the president next Tuesday.”[xv] The paper adds that the “landladies say they will willingly move to another section if lodging apartments are provided.”[xvi]

(Confinement within block 23 might not have been complete until the next few years. Even though there was movement toward establishing the new district as early as 1903, there were probably still some stranglers in other parts of the city. By 1905, Rossi declared to the city council that prostitution was “a necessary evil” that it must be limited “to its present quarters with a strong hand,”[xvii] recommending that ‘a sectional high fence permitting the passage of teams, be erected in the alley landing east from Sixth below Cedar Street.’ Within a month the matter of the fence, which would obscure prostitution from the rest of the city, was set into motion, and the overseer of streets had instructions to “construct said fence at once.[xviii]

In personal interviews, I’ve heard its existence independently asserted by Dick Magnuson, Archie Hulsizer, and Justin Rice. Mary White Gordon mentions it in her narrative, “A Child’s Eye View,” which is in the archives at the Mining Museum. It’s not something that was featured on the Sanborn maps, though, and it’s not the kind of thing that would be featured, according to Magnuson.[xix])


More houses appear in Alley A, and a big building with skylights and cribs (Surprise Theater and Palm Garden) shows up between the east end of the alley and the river. It was the largest of all the Wallace bawdy theaters at this time, and “in one raid, sixty people scattered when the police entered the premises. Twelve [women] worked in the Palm Garden portion of the business.”[xx]

The attitude of the community members against the dance halls was catalyzed by the Feburary 1906 suicide of a young man in connection with the Arcade. For the first time in the city’s history, “moral concerns rather than business interests were emphasized”: The reformers’ arguments relied on the position that “young men are, and have been, debauched, even into suicide,” and that “young women are being imported for immoral purposes,” simultaneously proposing that the women were victims as well as predatory seducers. [xxi] Wallace businessmen agreed with the reformers’ arguments, although they were probably mainly interested in protecting the commercial interests of the town, which had, by 1908, been declared “about the widest open, most flagrantly and shamelessly wicked city for its size in America.”[xxii]

(The city passed an ordinance preventing doors from opening into areas of prostitution: “In December of 1908, the Council voted to close all doors that connected saloons to ‘rooms occupied for immoral purposes.’”[xxiii] And by 1910, men were in charge of all disreputable dance halls, bawdy theaters, and saloons in Wallace. “Madams running small brothels were relegated to Avenue ‘A.’ Located behind a fence which obscured them from Sixth Street, a small number of madams operated from buildings behind saloons.[xxiv]…. Although women still sometimes managed the prostitution, they lost most of their economic and political power and would not get it back until after the repeal of prohibition.[xxv] By 1909 the only disreputable dance hall left in Wallace was Dan McInnis’s Arcade, on the northeast section of 6th Street near the river. It closed in 1911: “With the closing of the bars in the Arcade Theater today, one of the last of the west’s notorious dance halls passed into history…. Like the dance halls which have gone before it, the Arcade was a combination of women, wine and song. It consisted of its bars, its dance floor and stage and its curtained boxes.”[xxvi])

“Mary Bessette managed the greatest number of women on ‘the Alley.’ Six women who ranged in ages from twenty to thirty-one worked for her. Only four women worked for madam Connie Foss, also on ‘the Alley.’ Another woman, Hellen Temple, managed two prostitutes. Effie Rogan, a long-time Wallace madam and former proprietor of ‘The Reliance,’ lived with two other women on the alley.[xxvii] One, Daisy Brown, claimed her occupation as a dressmaker. The other, Jeneva Black, reported herself to the census taker as a hairdresser. They were probably both prostitutes, for within a year, Rogan was in district court on charges of keeping a house for the purpose of prostitution.[xxviii] Rogan ran into further trouble in 1912 when the District Court convicted her on a charge of white slavery.”[xxix] …A total of ten other women worked either independently or with a prostitute partner on ‘the Alley’ in 1910.[xxx]


Throughout Prohibition and the depression eras, according to Mary Gordon White (whose parents built the Richard Magnuson home at 301 Cedar St), the restricted district had a high fence around some of the buildings. In a personal narrative, she wrote that this section of town was quiet and unnoticed: “I don’t remember at all how I eventually found out that this was a thriving red-light district and had steady business, but when it was payday at the mines the place was really jumping.”[xxxi]

Wallace’s brothels mainly remained in the restricted district, although there were some outliers in canyons as well as in reputable hotels through town. One of these was called The Metropolitan. Located at 411 Cedar, just west of the Elks lodge, it had a reputation for being the kind of place where you could go for sexual favors.

(On October 2, 1922, a case was dismissed by District Judge Featherstone because the prosecutor declined to pursue it. The case notes have Anna Watson accused of “maintaining a common nuisance within a prohibition district. Her crime was: “That heretofore, to wit, on or about the 20th day of January, 1922, in and at the County of Shoshone, State of Idaho, the said Anna Watson did then and there knowingly, willfully and unlawfully occupy, maintain and control a place, to-wit, that certain building known as the ‘Metropolitan Hotel,’ located upon Lot Fifteen (15), Block Fifteen (15) [between 4th and 5th street], fronting on Cedar Street, in the City of Wallace, Shoshone County, Idaho, where intoxicating liquors were sold, delivered, furnished, given away or otherwise disposed of in violation of law, and where persons were permitted to resort for the purpose of drinking intoxicating liquors as a beverage and where intoxicating liquors were kept for sale, delivery or disposition in violation of law” …)

In general, though, Wallace working girls would remain on block 23 until the last house’s closure in 1991. A man named Henry Kottkey, interviewed in 1980 regarding the depression era for an oral history collection project, said “Wallace has…deserved a lot of credit for their management of the prostitution set up. They have…it has been very much controlled, they don’t have any problem on the streets…”[xxxii] When asked if prostitution is illegal or quasi-legal, Kottkey responded that “I don’t know. I really don’t know. I think the law enforcement people—your leadership in the community, has, has, might say, tolerated, under certain restrictions—with certain restrictions, the existence of them.”[xxxiii]

(Maidell Clemets adds that Kellogg didn’t have much prostitution, but Wallace did. […] And ah, they ah, they had a lot of prostitution there. That’s right. It was wide open. Even held on through the ‘30s there were prostitutes in the community.”[xxxiv])


(In August of 1931, The Health and Sanitation Committee, along with the fire chief and chief of police recommended to the city council that the brick building on Avenue A owned by Anna Brass, alias Mrs. Julius Brass, should be torn down.[xxxv] The committee explained that the property “is so dilapidated and/or is in such condition so as to menace the public health and/or safety of persons and/or property on account of increased fire hazard and/or otherwise.”[xxxvi] The council ordered Anna Brass to have the building removed within ten days, or else the city would demolish it for her and tax her for the cost of the destruction. At this same time, the city also drew the same conclusions regarding the “Frank Flood Estate,” also on Avenue A.[xxxvii])

By 1933, Prohibition had been repealed and the town’s taverns were once again able to operate more openly. Bar owners were required to buy bonds at $250 dollars apiece [, along with a fee of $6.25, ] for the privilege of selling beer again.[xxxviii] During this period of time, the brothels seem to be pretty much under the purview of the Health Officer and the Street & Alley Committee.

The second world war meant that the economy was thriving once again, and the invention of Penicillin meant that venereal diseases could be treated with a simple course of antibiotics. Even though Wallace was off-limits to the military men during the war, they found ways to get around this rule: the sailors would get a bus pass that said they were going to Missoula and then instead of going to Montana, they would get off in Wallace so they could visit the houses. Then they would catch the bus back to the base as it came through again on its way back from Missoula.[xxxix] The sailors were not allowed to wear anything but their issued uniforms and the madams wouldn’t let them upstairs unless they were in street clothes, but again, they found a clever way to subvert the rules while still maintaining appearances otherwise. The dry-cleaning business in the vacant lot next door to the brothels would rent civilian clothes, so the sailors would go in the back door with their uniforms on and then go out the front door in their rented clothes. Most the people in town knew exactly what was going on, but nobody really disapproved of this arrangement, because everything looked very proper on the surface.[xl]

Slot machines appeared in about the 1930s, which was when “people really went to gambling.”[xli] Licenses for the machines, called “coin-operated amusement devices” and off-limits to anyone under 20, were accepted as legal after March 24, 1947, with the State of Idaho and Shoshone County each receiving ¼ of the money, while the City of Wallace kept ½.[xlii]

[The License fees collected totaled $21,750.00, and the following people/establishments applied: Albertini’s (4), Louviers (5), Armani (2), Vets Club (8), Dom Feroglia (5), Wallace Corner (8), Elks Club (9), Streeter & Johnson (3), James Lynn (3), Eagles Lodge (6), M.J. Savich (1), Ruth Poska (2), and Bessie Ricard (2).[xliii]]


These events led to a renaissance of sorts in the business; the houses did very well after the war ended, and so this time period was more or less the post-pioneer era “heyday.”

During this time prostitution was widely embraced and regulated by the town. Penicillin’s availability and effectiveness led to changing attitudes about sexuality nationally, and lessened the consequences of promiscuous or commoditized sex. [xliv] Every woman who came into town had her picture taken by Nellie Stockbridge and she also checked in and out with the police, who ran her rap sheet through the FBI records to see if there were items of concern and to double-check that she was over the age of 21.

Photographic records indicate that Dolores Arnold first came to town in 1943, but she wouldn’t begin operating the Lux until 1947. Luoma Delmonte first came to town in 1945 and began running the Jade in 1953. Dolores and Luoma ensured that the women they employed would not solicit on the streets nor drink in the bars around town. The madams donated liberally to the city coffers and special community events, such as raffle tickets the kids would sell for various fundraisers, bicycles as prizes for fishing derbies held in the city pool (which had been drained, filled with creek water, and planted with fish), and band uniforms, which is the thing that everyone mentions the most. Dolores was most known for her generosity to the kids around town, while Luoma gave a lot of money to the Catholic church.


1973 New York Times Article

1973 New York Times Article

In the late 1960s-70s, the structure and physical locations of the brothels began to change, making way for Ginger of the Oasis and Lee Martin of the U&I to assume greater leadership roles. Ginger took over management of the Oasis in 1963, and by 1966 she was also at least half owner of the Arment, although management there turned over and she remained madam at the Oasis. Luoma sold the Jade to Dolores in 1967 (she got married and moved to Seattle, Tacoma, or Portland, depending who you talk to), and Dolores expanded there, calling her new house the Luxette, causing people to joke that she now had a franchise operation.

So during this time, there were five established houses: The Lux, on 6th street with access from Kelly’s Alley, The Arment at 601 ½ Cedar, The Oasis, The Jade and then Luxette at 611 ½ Cedar, and the U&I Rooms above 613 Cedar.

[According to police records there was a house called the Sahara that employed four girls during the year of 1973, but nobody really seems to remember this house, and it’s possible that the Oasis operated under this name for a brief time of back-stairs-entry-only during the temporary closure of 1973. That’s just an educated guess, because during this year, there was a change in Idaho law and federal policy, which led to a brief shutdown. So-called “moral crusaders” began in southern Idaho and worked their way north to enforce new anti-prostitution laws on the books. The houses shut down for a while, taking their signs down and putting padlocks on the doors for show. They reopened quietly after a short time, and operated in a more underground way for a while. Dolores apparently operated the Lux as a “massage parlor” for a short period of time during this year, until concerns subsided and operations resumed as before, in an open secret, regionally accepted manner.]

Police regulation appears to have ended in 1973, although the madams still enjoyed protection and continued donating money into a community fund managed by the chamber of commerce. Later claims that this amounted to bribery and corruption were not substantiated during two subsequent trials—it would be a misunderstanding of the community attitude and the legal evidence to interpret the arrangement the madams had with the town as anything other than mutually beneficial, reciprocal, and according to a 1977 study, embraced by 75-80 percent of Wallace citizens.

In 1977, the State of Idaho bought the building the Lux was in, because there were talks about the freeway coming through town there, and so that house moved to 601 ½ Cedar St., causing the permanent closure of the Arment Rooms, which Dolores remodeled using gold-colored paint for the trim. Lee Martin assumed management of the U&I in the 1960s or early 1970s and her approach to keeping the girls happy while working was to provide them with a social life[xlv]; during the 1970s-80s she ensured the boys around town would come up and hang out in the kitchen, and some of them became so close that they called themselves “the family.”[xlvi] Although you didn’t see the girls out at the bars around town, they did socialize more during the later years, and developed friendships with local women as well.[xlvii] Tanya took over most of the management work at the U&I by 1985, and this house outlasted the others. The Oasis shut down in January of 1988, the Lux and Luxette closed around the same time, due to Dolores’s Alzheimer’s disease increasing in severity, and finally in September of 1990 the U&I was mostly closed. It remained open in a quieter way until early June of 1991, when, according to at least one account, an FBI agent confessed to Tanya “in a moment of weakness,” warning her that a large raid would soon take place, and they should leave town for good.[xlviii] Word is everything had mostly died down anyway, that the local economy could no longer support the workforce it had previously (unemployment soared to between 20-40%) and AIDS had really put a damper on the demand for the girls’ work, so the time was over, and Wallace transitioned into a tourism community, moving from selling sex to selling the past. Later that year, as the freeway began moving in overhead, the town buried its last literal red light and hauled the depot across the river to the area formerly home to its last figurative red light.

[i] Powell, 41. She cites: Wallace Press, 7 February 1891.

[ii] Powell, 40. She cites: Shoshone County Court House, Mortgage Books J and K; Coeur d’Alene Miner, 25 October, 1890; “Delinquent Tax List,” Coeur d’Alene Miner, 27 December 1890; “Delinquent Tax List of Wallace,” Wallace Press, 28 February, 1891; and Wallace Press, 20 December 1890. Wallace Press, 20 December 1890; and Mortgage Book J. Shoshone County Court Houses, Mortgage Books I, J, and K. Wallace Press, 20 December 1890 (Powell 94).

[iii] Powell 51

[iv] Powell 43. She cites: City of Wallace, Idaho, Police Record Journal, April 1893 – June 1908.

[v] Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, Wallace, Idaho, 1901 and City of Wallace, Journal of Council Proceedings, March 1897 to 14 October 1901, Council Minutes for 27 May 1901.

[vi] Powell 99-100. The Arcade” was a combination of a bawdy theater and dance hall. See also Powell chapter five.

[vii] City of Wallace, City Council Proceedings Journal, March 1897 to 14 October 1901. Minutes of Council Chamber, 26 November 1900, qtd. in Powell 104

[viii] Powell 96

[ix] Powell 46 and 99

[x] Powell 43

[xi] Powell 43. She cites: Wallace Press, 30 March 1901.

[xii] “To Shut Off Red Lights.” The Spokesman-Review, 19 May, 1903.

[xiii] “To Shut Off Red Lights.” The Spokesman-Review, 19 May, 1903.

[xiv] “To Shut Off Red Lights.” The Spokesman-Review, 19 May, 1903.

[xv] “Obey Order of Wallace Mayor” The Spokesman-Review, 22 May, 1903.

[xvi] “Obey Order of Wallace Mayor” The Spokesman-Review, 22 May, 1903.

[xvii] Powell 104

[xviii] City of Wallace, City Council Record Book, 28 October 1901 to 10 September 1906, Minutes of Council Chamber, 24 April 1905, qtd. in Powell 104-105.

[xix] 30 July 2014, Wallace, Idaho, Personal Interview.

[xx] Daily Idaho Press, 3 May 1909, Powell 100.

[xxi] Powell 143

[xxii] Powell 144, see also Smith’s thesis

[xxiii] Daily Idaho Press, 6 November 1909, qtd. in Powell 107

[xxiv] Powell 48.

[xxv] Powell 47-48.

[xxvi] Spokesman Review, August 1909, quoted in Hart and Nelson, Mining Town: The Photographic, Record of T.N. Barnard and Nellie Stockbridge from the Coeur d’Alenes, 138.

[xxvii] Idaho Press, 6 December 1906, qtd. in Powell 48.

[xxviii] Shoshone County Court House, District Court Office, Index to Register ofCriminal Actions; Proceedings Book B, No 497, qtd. in Powell 48.

[xxix] Ibid., Proceedings Book B, No. 495 and 496, cited in Powell 48.

[xxx] U.S. Census, 1910: State of Idaho, cited in Powell 48.

[xxxi] “A Child’s-Eye View,” April 29, 2001, Wallace District Mining Museum Archives, “History of Wallace” folder, filing drawer labeled “Historic.” Justin Rice described the restricted district behind a gate during this time as well. He also mentioned a place called the Metropolitan Hotel as a brothel, and there is some evidence for that in the court records.

[xxxii] Barton, (Henry Kottkey) “Appendix B: Informant Transcriptions,” p. 151

[xxxiii] Barton, “Appendix B: Informant Transcriptions,” p. 152

[xxxiv] Barton, (Maidell Clemets) “Appendix B: Informant Transcriptions,” p. 323-324

[xxxv] Wallace City Council Minute Book 1931-1939, p. 423

[xxxvi] Ibid.

[xxxvii] Ibid., p. 424. The legal description for the Flood properties was, “partly on lot 7 and on an unnumbered lot in rear of lots 5, 6, and 7 on Block 23,” which would make these buildings right behind and moving toward the East of where the Oasis (lot 5) is today.

[xxxviii] Wallace City Council Minute Book 1931-1939, p. 501

[xxxix] Mike Feiler, Telephone Interview, 16 August, 2010.

[xl] Ibid.

[xli] Barton, “Appendix B: Informant Transcripts,” 39

[xlii] Ordinance #292, Wallace City Council Minute Book 13 February 1939-16 September 1947, 24 March 1947, pgs 1024-1028.

[xliii] Wallace City Council Minute Book 13 February 1939-16 September 1947, 24 March 1947, pg 1028

[xliv] Francis, “Wages of Sin.”

[xlv] Mooney Interview

[xlvi] Roberts Interview

[xlvii] Kristi Gnaedinger 2014

[xlviii] Sue Hansen Interview—both 2010 and 2014