The family found out about Aunt and Uncle’s livelihood by word-of-mouth shortly before the minions of the law clapped them both in the calaboose---and the mouth was mine. They had dropped by one Sunday morning, as they might at any time, and since I had enjoyed many a little jaunt with them in my five or six years, (they went where the divine HAMBURGERS were) I gladly and with wholehearted approval of Mother, Mammaw, et al., hopped in the old black Ford for an outing.
Only when I returned late in the day, I described the beautiful curtains (my mind remembers sorta burgundy velvet, through whose chinks the noonday sun ignited into sparkles all the dust motes dancing within the darkened room, though I may be channeling Mrs. Dr. Meade here).
And the smoking stands, little goldy columns about my waist height, with amber ashtrays and a sandypaint feel to the supporting pole as I stroked the shiny, gritty surface. And I described the “pretty ladies” in their pastel dishabille and fluffy mules, coming yawning into the room to wait for cook to put the breakfast on the table about two o’clock.
Before I even started school, I sat right down and ate breakfast with a buncha hookers.
I didn’t know NOT to tell---I thought they were pretty ladies. They had beautiful clothes and shoes, and they let me try on some of their jewelry. What little girl could resist that? Or the excitement of describing it all when I got home. I just couldn’t figure out why Mammaw and Mother got such grim looks on their faces, and they certainly put a damper on my enthusiasm.
Aunt Lo and Unca Fancy had gone to pick up Saturday night’s take in the town two-over from the hometown, and so society a town, with only a doctor or two to lure our country crowd to visit (except for maybe Kroger’s with that most magically-perfumed corner where the big red coffee-grinder lived) and real blacktopped streets and all---word had never leaked back to Mammaw and her clan for a long time, and I was the leak.