Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lethbridge's Red Lights

     "Isolated as Lethbridge and Drumheller were in remote corners of the Alberta boondocks, it was inevitable that their brothels would develop lifestyles of their own, in legend if not in fact.  What other community, for example, could claim that its gaggle of whorehouses doubled as cultural centres, as Lethbridge's did during the expiring years of Victoria's reign?  There, after savouring the primary pleasures of the joints, a young cow hand ... could relax with a good book and, if necessary, be taught to read by a former schoolteacher turned prostitute.  Or he could lean back and enjoy a piano solo by one of the talented bawds, or learn the latest dance steps from a new girl from Wichita via Great Falls, Montana.  He might even be instructed in how to spot a crooked card dealer in a poker game, by a girl who had been a faro dealer in Fort Benton.  And after a cowboy had blown what was left of his wad in a Round [5th] Street gambling joint he might seek shelter from the weather in a bagnio on "The Point" and not be turned away."  (from Red Lights on the Prairies by James H. Gray)

Today's Good News:  I looked 'em up fer ya: faro is a gambling card game in which players bet on the order in which cards will appear, and bagnio is a whorehouse (originally a bath house in Turkey or Italy).