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industrial defense production and the personnel of an Army air base are exposed
to these conditions.

City C. Population 17,000, located across the river from the post sometimes
called the "slum section" of a neighboring city there are a few new buildings
such as a Federal housing project, court house, and two well-kept attractive
churches but dwelling places are for the most part rickety, unpainted shacks,
cabins, cottages and rooming houses. Juke joints, ramshackle business buildings
and litters of debris cluster along the riverside; in the business area on the hill
the buildings are similar. There is no industrial plant of any sort in the town
and three-fourths of the wage earners work in nearby textile mills. Most of
the working people are low-paid women workers. The city, which is bankrupt,
is too decadent to have much civic pride, and county officials are reported to
be indifferent about vice conditions.

The Mayor and Health Officer are reported to be interested in cleaning up
the town but unable to make much progress. Articles in recent magazines about
vice conditions here have put the people on the defensive. Curiosity seekers
are driving through in great numbers.

Prostitution, gambling, and other cheap commercial amusements seem to
operate with tolerance on the part of local officials, citizens, and some of the



officials of the United States Army. A notorious underworld character is
reported to be operating a "better sort of business." She no longer runs
a group of flop-houses, and is said to be "cooperating with police and health
authorities." The Health Department, however, stated that the vice conditions
have a derogatory effect on the program for controlling venereal diseases and
repressing prostitution.

The Welfare Department indicated that an underground "racket" is operating
in the town and is providing the local houses of prostitution with new girls, and
taking responsibility for getting out of town the inmates of these houses who
get into trouble with local authorities. The Welfare Department also reports
that police focus their attention on transient girls and women who appear sus-
picious and take such persons into custody on charge of being a menace to
public health. The jail, which is right outside of the windows of the Welfare
Department, usually contains a population of a dozen or more girls or women
some of them very young. The public seems satisfied with this sort of a program
for they believe the constant influx of transients who do not have work or
funds is detrimental to the town's best interests. The Police Department is
reported to feel that their activities in connection with the non-resident group is a
means of keeping vice conditions under restraint and demonstrating to the
public the department's interest in meeting police responsibilities. The girls
are detained in the jail until their quarantine period is over and then the
criminal court hears their cases. Disposition of the cases consists for the most
part of charging the girls with vagrancy or disorderly conduct, suspending
their sentences. They are conducted to the edge of town by officers and warned
not to return. The State Department of Welfare knows of no funds that are
available to provide them with travel expense they usually hitch-hike to places
unknown. A few of them who are serious offenders, or who are recorded as
requiring further venereal disease treatment, are sent to the State Penal Farm for
an average period of six weeks each.

Matron service at the jail consists of some informal non-paid attention by the
wife of the jailer. There are no women members on the police force, and the
personnel of the force is too limited in number to give any sort of adequate
supervision to the very large number of food and lodging establishments and
commercialized amusement places that spread out over the whole county.

City D. There are 250 known prostitutes who reside in this city more or less
permanently. In addition there are a varying number of transients to be found
in the hotels and on the city streets. This number has been increased materially
in the past sixty days, due to migration from other cities where prostitution
laws are being enforced. Many of these are unknown to city officials and, hence,
very difficult to keep under supervision. There is no "red light district," as
such; however, on the north side of town there is an area covering several
blocks in which there are half a dozen or more "honky-tonks," that sell beer
and have floor space available for dancing, and small houses in the immediate
vicinity which are used by the prostitutes in the conduct of their trade. Contacts
are often made in the beer parlors and on the dance floor. In addition, several
of the hotels are frequented by both local and transient prostitutes. Many of
them can be found on the streets and some in the immediate vicinity of the
Army reservation. Every effort is being made by the city health officer, to keep
constant contact with the permanent inhabitants. Those who do not come to
the clinic voluntarily are more or less coerced. Examinations and treatments
are free. There are other areas in the city, rather widely scattered, in which
prostitutes may be found.

Cities E to Z.

These are included to show, (1) that prostitution is a modifiable
phenomenon, as Abraham Flexner concluded from his exhaustive
study of the problem; * and (2) that organized commercial prostitu-
tion rackets can be eliminated wherever the authorities supported
by the people undertake to stamp them out.

* Prostitution in Europe. Century Co. 1920.


City E. The entrance to this post is surrounded by an area known as the T.
This area is occupied by cheap dance-halls, catch-penny devices of all kinds,
taverns, and numberless unattached women. This condition was taken up with
the State Board of Health, and a special patrol was put in this area. In several
days it seemed to be cleaned up, but on pay day, it was wide open, and full blast.
It is obvious that it will constantly be a source of venereal disease if permitted
to continue. Camp and squatter huts surrounding it are very unsanitary, and
again many of these roadside stands sell food stuff, and are being patronized
by members of the military force stationed here. This matter is being taken
up by the Commanding General with the civilian authorities with the purpose
of having all of these places which are potential sources of disease removed.

City F. This small town tolerates thirteen openly conducted brothels. Each
brothel is permitted to harbor three inmates. All prostitutes are required by
the police to be photographed, fingerprinted and examined every ten days for
gonorrhea and every sixty days for syphilis. Soldiers on guard duty nearby
frequent the resorts.

City G. A brief study of flagrant prostitution activity disclosed five openly
conducted brothels which harbor a total of twenty inmates. Soldiers are
frequent patrons. Inmates allege that they are examined twice a week and
each pays a "monthly fine of $25," which they regard as a license fee.

City H. This city's chief prostitution problem is centered in seven brothels
white and colored. Some of them, especially the colored resorts, admit soldier
trade from the Fort.

City I. Although the vice district is supposed to be closed, the city still tolerates
a large number of semi-flagrantly conducted brothels disguised as rooming
houses. "Mugging" and fingerprinting and periodic venereal disease examina-
tions have been abandoned. Armed forces in uniform are barred from most
resorts. Many in civilian clothes, however, are entertained by the inmates.
Industrial defense workers are admitted, apparently without question.

City J. This city's "bull pen" is closed. Rumors are afloat that it will reopen.
Two brothels, locally termed parlor-houses, have resumed business. Each one at
present harbors two inmates. More are expected soon. No prostitution activity
was found in hotels, bars, night clubs nor along the streets.

City K. The city is free of prostitution activity. Local beer-joints are fre-
quented by soldiers and clandestine solicitation is alleged. Honky-tonks are
not as plentiful in the surrounding territory as they were a year ago. A few
"bad spots" still continue to operate. Waitresses in these places do not solict.
Some are said to be available for immoral purposes. Soldiers and girls make
use of cabins adjoining some of the honky-tonks.

City L. Commercialized prostitution among the white race apparently has been
eliminated in this town. Negro soldiers, however, find Negro prostitutes in

City M. This city made a clean sweep of commercialized prostitution in August
(1941). Ever since then, law enforcement has followed relentlessly. Not one
prostitute was found during this survey. Some soldiers claim they can pick
up a girl in some beer- joints; others say that they visit the brothels in a town
ten miles away. Taxi drivers act as go-betweens for these distant resorts.

City N. Vigorous law enforcement against commercialized prostitution was
instituted recently in this city. One brothel only is operating, and is clandestinely
conducted. Some soldiers are admitted. No prostitutes are to be found in
hotels, beer-joints, or along the streets.

City 0. As a result of the insistence of Army officials at the Air Base, local
authorities transformed the city from a town in which wide-open commercialized
prostitution prevailed to one where only three clandestinely conducted brothels
currently operate. Each brothel has but one inmate. Only known customers or
those vouched for by cab drivers are admitted. Soldiers are excluded at least
those in uniform.


City P. This city's notorious commercialized prostitution interests closed their
doors on Christmas Eve. Most of the prostitutes left the city. Many former
exploiters are renting their rooming houses for legitimate purposes. Bellboys
and taxi drivers still have the desire to serve as go-betweens but are unable to
do so because prostitutes are not available. Operators of disorderly massage
parlors continue to advertise in the press, however.

City Q. A recent clean-up by a woman sheriff and her deputies rendered com-
mercialized prostitution quite inaccessible in this vicinity.

City B. City and county authorities in January began a drive against prostitu-
tion interests. Honky-tonks along the highways near here have been closed,
or have suspended illicit activities. Hotels in the city which formerly harbored
prostitutes have discontinued doing so. Cab drivers provide two "hustlers"
with trade. "The girls" make their headquarters in a local lunch room.

City S. This city's experience with commercialized prostitution was reported
by the Mayor as follows: "We received a communication from the Army at the
end of July, calling our attention to the passage of the May Act, and suggesting
we avert Federal action. After less than four discussions we came to complete
agreement. We felt the Federal Government meant business and the program was
worth trying. On August 1, the order went out to close the 22 or 24 houses of
prostitution. With few exceptions they are still closed. It was the simplest
procedure ever taken in the city. Since then the number of prophylaxis treat-
ments during comparative periods have been reduced from three thousand
to three hundred. Cases of venereal disease contracted in the city have been
cut down. We took the story to the people. They had believed in regulation
but were willing to believe in the facts. We are about 80 per cent successful.
Some houses are still open ' ' under cover ' ' but this number has been cut down, the
prices have had to be raised, and the number of contacts have been greatly
reduced. Business men argued that service men were going to other cities, but
our checks on bus service and in other ways showed that this was not so. However,
we have contributed something to the other cities, because 50 per cent of the
prostitutes went elsewhere. What has been done in certain communities is now a
state program and a Federal program. We have today half the cases of venereal
diseases we had under regulation and control. Civic morality is better.

City T. The Chief of Police said that he had closed all the houses on Monday,
October 27th. He said that he had not closed them previously because the local
military post had not asked that they be closed, and that no one in the city
had suggested closing them. A neighboring commanding officer, when visited
by the Chief last summer had told him to let things alone. When, however,
an emissary from the adjacent Army post told him they wanted prostitution
closed "the job was done in a matter of fifteen minutes."

City U. The City Manager stated that his city has had commercialized prosti-
tution for the past one hundred years. He said that in recent years, the con-'
tinuance of this situation was due to the powerful influence of the editor of the
local paper. The City Manager reported that he had brought the newspaper
and business men together, and that they had agreed to do anything the Army
asks the city to do.*

City V. The Chief of Police reported that he has closed the houses in this city
in accord with the law. He said that during the past ten months there has been
a reduction in crime; and "no apparent change in sex offenses." The Chief
started a lot of enthusiasm when he said referring to remarks made earlier in
the meeting that as a "practical policeman," he believed that morality cannot
be wisely neglected. He said he had three boys in the Army, and he wanted them
to come back without any depreciation of their moral standards.

City W. The Vice-President of the County Citizens Committee of 500 said that
this committee was formed just before election. He, personally, covered the
business men, inviting them to become members. He contacted professional men

* Editor's note: This request was made and the vice district was closed later.


also. He said his committee started its law enforcement campaign against
prostitution with sixty-seven men and now has over a thousand who have signed
cards of support. He said his committee had succeeded, and was proud of it.
They "intend to keep D Street closed up." "Their only objective is the
betterment of the city no personal publicity. ' '

City X. After general discussion of the civilian law and order aspects of the
problem, the State Health Officer displayed charts based on studies of statistical
information secured concerning the occurrence of acute gonorrhea in twelve
counties. These statistics were based on reports received during nine months
from six counties in which commercialized prostitution had been repressed, and
from six counties in which there had been no repression. He stated that the
other conditions in these two groups of counties were approximately the same.
His charts showed that there had been an increase of more than 40 per cent in
new cases of acute gonorrhea in the six counties without repression; and a
decrease of 18 per cent in the counties campaigning against prostitution.

City and a County T. The attorney in charge of criminal prosecutions for the
State said that he was confident that if the Navy officials would ask for closure
of houses of prostitution, they would be closed and there would be no trouble.
He said the Chief of Police is competent and sound. He said the May Act will
not be effective in a community that is under the influence of an Army or a
Navy commanding officer urging the continuation- of commercialized prostitution.*

The State Attorney General made a very impressive statement. He announced
that any community wanting to close its vice districts can do so. He said the
opposition comes from those in the community who want vice "A lot of people
profit from prostitution, some of them are close to the administration of justice."
He reported one Army unit, without naming it, that transported soldiers in
trucks, depositing them in the red-light district in front of the houses of
prostitution, having carried the soldiers from the county in which the Army unit
is located into a neighboring county. He reported one community in which the
Army had located a prophylactic station inside a house of prostitution.

City Z. In July, 1941, it became apparent that closure of commercialized houses
of prostitution in this city was necessary in the interests of venereal disease con-
trol. The health department announced its policy with this slogan, ' ' This
Department takes the stand that venereal disease cannot be controlled so long
as prostitution is tolerated." The usual deluge of arguments championing
alleged advantages of tolerated bawdy houses and alleged disadvantages of clos-
ing same was precipitated, and no effective action was taken. So, the Health
Department decided to take its case to the people. Since that time the Health
Department has continued to make the facts available to the greatest possible
number of citizens. Twelve thousand pamphlets have been distributed dealing
with the problems of venereal disease control and commercialized prostitution.
These pamphlets have been distributed either by mail to responsible officers
of various organizations or governmental subdivisions, or they have been dis-
tributed personally following discussions of the problem before clubs and other
organizations. Twenty-three talks on venereal disease control have been pre-
sented. Many people have been reached through news items reporting talks
made before important organizations. Throughout the department's educational
program, the problem of prostitution has been approached as only one phase of
the effective venereal disease control program. It has been clearly defined at
all times that it is the business the third party profit of commercialized prosti-
tution that the Health Department particularly wants eliminated. There has
been no moral or religious crusading and demand for official attempts to deal
with all the problems of prostitution. However, complete elimination of the
commercialized type of prostitution is held to be absolutely necessary for the
control of venereal diseases and to be entirely possible when law enforcement
agencies are in sympathy with such a program.

*Editor's Note: Following efforts of voluntary State and Federal agencies,
including a request from the Navy, the houses of prostitution were closed.


In this policy we have at all times been vigorously supported by the State
Department of Health. Support by Army and Navy officials has at times
been energetic and at times lukewarm.

On September 5, 1941, suppression of commercialized houses of prostitution
was announced as the official policy of the city government and closure of houses
was begun. Since that time, the State Department of Health has cooperated by
conducting surveys of previously known bawdy houses at irregular intervals.
Before the closing order, the city supported between 50 and 75 wide open tolerated
bawdy houses. Early in October, 1941, the State Department of Health survey
found thirteen places willing to do business. Subsequent surveys up until the
early days of December always showed five to eight houses in operation. Certain
houses continued in operation fairly regularly but on the whole the various
places seemed to be operating under cover and on a broken schedule. During
the latter part of December a survey failed to find any places willing to do
business as a house of prostitution; but the present indications are that several
houses are finding ways to continue the practices of prostitution on a commer-
cialized basis. It is obvious that suppression in this city is not yet complete.
The Health Department plans to continue its program of information to the
citizens and its policy of demanding that all houses of prostitution be closed
in the interest of public health. Our police department is committed to a policy
of closing all these places and we expect that such closure will become an
actuality in the near future.

Immediately following the closing order the incidence of reported gonorrhea
began to drop. This occurred in spite of the fact that a good many houses
continued to operate, but with a markedly limited volume of business. The
difficulties incidental to back-door operation and intermittent hours of operation
seemed to interfere rather seriously with the mass methods of supply and demand
necessary for profitable conduct of a bawdy house.

There is some indication that a decrease in the number of reported cases
of primary and secondary syphilis also has begun, but no definite statement to
this effect can be made. In evaluating any change in reported cases of venereal
disease here, it is well to remember that this city is enjoying an unprecedented
industrial prosperity, that we are in the vicinity of several concentrations of
military and naval personnel, and that the population has increased by approxi-
mately 50,000 persons during the past twelve months, and we are now at war.
All these factors might be expected to raise the incidence of venereal diseases.

The Health Department realizes fully that its task of venereal disease control
is only begun. It recognizes that suppression of commercialized prostitution is
as yet only partial. This department believes, however, that firm adherence to
our policy as previously stated continued insistence upon adequate law enforce-
ment, and a vigorous educational program for giving the facts to the citizens
will lead to a satisfactory conclusion.


(1) "In addition to the above conditions, it is further reported that the two
adjacent counties have refused to join in with the State Health Department and
have failed to allow the U. S. Public Health Service to establish venereal disease
clinics. . . . The Commanding General is particularly concerned in regard to
matters affecting the health of the troops and feels that he must do everything
possible to safeguard that health. Since the Recreation Centers in the neighboring
communities have only recently opened and since they are designed primarily to
furnish recreation for the soldiers, he is vitally interested in the rapid elimination
of the reported conditions."

(2) "Every possible effort has been made to check the increase in the venereal
rate of this station. Action taken includes the following:

a. The provisions of W. D. Circular No. 170 dated August 16, 1941, are being
carefully followed.


6. Training film TF 8-154, subject Sex Hygiene has been shown to all members
of the command.

c. A copy of the pamphlet Sex Hygiene and Venereal Disease has been distributed
to all organization and unit commanders on the basis of one copy for each mem-
ber of their unit.

d. Appropriate lectures on this subject have been and will continue to be given
periodically by Medical Officers from the Base Hospital, by the Base Chaplains,
and by Unit Commanders.

e. Organization and Unit Commanders have been instructed to have available
at all times in their organizations the 'kits' prescribed by regulations.

/. Prophylactic stations have been established at the Base Hospital and in the
city. This information and location of stations have been published for the
information of the command.

g. Kestriction to post for the following week-end of any unit which reports a new
case, for purpose of additional instructions to all members of the unit."

(3) "Although there has been a rapid expansion of the post and attendant
overcrowding, sanitary conditions have been highly satisfactory throughout the
year and the sick rate during the past six months has been particularly lovr.
The venereal rate has been somewhat above the average of the Army as a whole,
in spite of concerted efforts on the part of military and civilian authorities to
eradicate prostitution and the establishment of four venereal prophylactic stations
in the city. Several factors are responsible for this rate. Prior to our entry into
war, there was no restriction on military personnel visiting the city across the
river, and many cases resulted from exposure there. Also selectees developed
venereal disease following exposure just prior to entraining for this station.
Other cases resulted from exposure in this city and failure to take prophylaxis.
The present ban on military personnel crossing the river and the continued drive

Online LibraryAmerican Social Hygiene AssociationJournal of social hygiene (Volume 28) → online text (page 8 of 71)