A woman gambles in Hot Springs, AR. My hometown. Image via the Google Life Photo Archive, under a Creative Commons license.

I just happened to remember this little anecdote, and it made me smile, so I thought I’d share.

I’m from Hot Springs, Arkansas.  Once the Prohibition-era hangout for mobsters and gamblers and jazz musicians and even the Milwaukee Brewers, who held their spring training there (I’ve heard about all of this from my Grandfather, who grew up there), it still remains something of a sin city.  Heralding itself as America’s first resort town, it draws tourists to its beautiful lakes, and, more commonly, to the horse racing track, which was, until recently, one of only two places where gambling was legal in the state of Arkansas.  There are other “sinful” aspects too– I remember making a video about my home town with classmates in Jr. High, as we were going on a trip to Washington D.C. with students from other states and would be expected to share about our home with the others.  The kids from a Native American Reservation in Wisconsin taught us a traditional dance. We talked about Bill Clinton and showed a video.  We were less cool than the Menominee kids.  Anyway, part of our video was shot from the top of the Hot Springs Mountain Tower, and when asked what that “Playmates” place was, we got red faced and stammered, “Uh, a daycare! Yeah, a daycare!”

All of this is just preface to say, one time, we were driving home in the car with my Memaw, who, though she isn’t from Hot Springs, spent time there in her college years as she coached women’s basketball in a nearby town.  As we drove past a strip club, Memaw said, “I used to dance there!”


“Memaw, that’s a strip joint!”

And in her Southern drawl, the one that comes out of my mouth, too, when I’ve spent too much time around her, or when I’m particularly tired or angry, she said, “Way-uhl, it wasn’t back then! It was a club where I useta jitterbug!”

Whew. Sigh of relief. My grandmother does NOT have a stripper past.

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