The Aunt’s and the “World’s Oldest Profession”…#41

It was early 1800 and the harbor in Mobile, Alabama was bustling with upriver planters looking for a good price for cottonseed.  The waterfront also was home to a variety of establishments; café`, boarding houses, hotels, saloons and other places know as the gentlemen’s entertainment houses.  This special select group, the gentleman houses became known as “Shakespeare’s Row”.  During the South’s Antebellum Era prostitution ranked high in the South.  Later a ban was placed on these establishments calling it disorderly behavior public or privately.  The fines for “keeping a disorderly house” ranged from $10 to $25; there were no consistent laws on the subject.

It was during mid-1850, when my Aunt Molly and Modena Veste found themselves in Mobile near the waterfront, a distant cousin passed away, and the Veste twins inherited a hotel on the waterfront and Shakespeare’s Row.  Neither Molly nor Modena wavered from having a good time.  When they inherited the Hotel, the entire family encouraged them to turn their lives around and make a living running it as an upper-class establishment, a boarding house for the elite who visited Mobile frequently. 

They called their inherited property, “The Veste Gentleman’s Club and their dreams quickly became a reality.  They did not identify themselves with the Shakespeare Row prostitutes, but they did discover their need to pander with men.  Of course, the sisters paid well and this was a draw to get some of the most beautiful Southern Bells to work for them.

These two young women catered to the wealthy, card playing, cigars smoking and liquor-drinking gentleman and women.  Upon paying a substantial monthly fee to join the Veste Gentleman’s Club, a daily fee deposited at the door would give the gentleman their choice of available “Ladies of Pleasure” or “Ladies of Easy Virtue” for one hour. The city agreed to turn their heads to these nightly “Whore Parties” as the Clergy of Mobile called them, for a reasonable property tax!  A wink and a nod condoned and protected prostitution at the Veste Hotel for almost 50 years. 

Therefore, Miss Molly and Miss Modena brought the red-light district to all of the larger cities in Alabama.  The Veste Gentlemen Clubs were some of the few buildings left standing when the Yankee troops pilfered their way through the South.  The women that worked in the hotel were not cheap, and a visit to the bed of the Veste sisters’ could be costly.


The characters in this material is fiction, a creation of the writer’s imagination, it is not intended to be no more than a work of fiction. uote;\lsdsemih

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Artwork by Elizabeth Ann Johnson-Murphree Acrylics and Watercolor on canvas.

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