From his book, Seasons in Hell, Mike Shropshire describes
Fort Worth...as a historic place that's chin-deep in trail-dust
heritage. After the Civil War the city based its economy around
the prostitution industry and met with prosperity. Even when some
Bible-thumping zealots managed to weasel their way into the state
legislature in 1896 and enact a reform measure that raised the legal
age of consent in Texas from ten to twelve, the people of Fort Worth
rallied together in a show of support for the innkeepers. A protective
guild was organized and bolstered by the wholehearted endorsement
of local law enforcement, the Fort Worth brothel trade became an
entity that was truly greater than the sum of its parts. If anybody
thinks I am exaggerating, an article written by a professor, Richard
F. Selcer, in a 1992 issue of the Southwestern Historical Quarterly
will back me up. When the Chamber of Commerce brags about Fort Worth
being home of the "world's oldest indoor rodeo," they're
technically correct but the events I'm thinking of don't include
bronco bustin' and calf ropin'.
In the city "where the west begins," the natural laws
of commerce came into play as well, and inevitably cottage industries
like cattle and oil materialized in and around Fort Worth, utilizing
the mercantile strength of the hooker trade as a life-support mechanism.
Those whorehouses-and they proliferated around the city at least
as long as I lived there through the mid-1970s-are the reason the
stockyards were founded on the North Side. The town's population
of what Professor Selcer termed "soiled doves, daughters of
joy, bawds, painted women, sluts, tarts, floozies, chippies and
street walkers," brought the huge Swift and Armor meatpacking
plants to town, not vice versa. The same goes for American Airlines,
the Santa Fe Railroad and, I am privately convinced, it's the same
reason Texas Christian University moved from Waco to Fort Worth.
Why do you suppose General Dynamics put a huge factory in Old Cowtown?
Because of the school system? Why would Cap Cities Communications
buy a newspaper like the Fort Worth Star-Telegram? Why else
would the National Association of Fire Chiefs stage its annual convention
in Fort Worth year after year?...