Sometime in the mid-1960s, Edna Milton, the madam in charge of the Chicken Ranch in La Grange, Texas, received a phone call from a regular customer who had become an aide to President Lyndon Johnson.The man wondered if Milton had access to a “closed car” (not a convertible), because “someone’s wanting to come out there, but they don’t want to go in their own car.” Milton only had a convertible available, so the visit never happened.
Even as president, Johnson was a larger-than-life figure who had no qualms bragging about his sexual prowess to all who’d listen, referring to his penis as “Jumbo” and displaying it at any opportunity. ” The exact origins of the Chicken Ranch — initially called the Chicken Farm — have been lost to time, but lore puts its opening in the 1840s.
“His secretarial pool,” Blaschke writes, “consisted entirely of young, attractive women, which Secret Service agents referred to as his ‘harem.’ ” “Penny,” a woman who worked at the brothel from 1966-1969, recalled the day the local sheriff dropped by to inform her that the president was at a ranch nearby, and said, “Would you like to meet him? Milton, the inspiration for the character played by Dolly Parton in the film, would tell how two women and a man were crossing the country in a covered wagon when it broke down in La Grange.
He likes brunettes.” According to Penny, she met the president “as many as eight times” over the next few years, “always on private ranches between Austin and La Grange. Stranded and broke, with little work to be had, the women took to selling themselves for sex to make money.
Because she had a clean-cut, girl-next-door look about her, Penny was always introduced as a ‘friend of the family’ before the president would slip away with her.” Penny says these visits became a release for the president in more ways than one. It’s said that everything is bigger in Texas, tall tales included.
Milton was the person who really modernized the brothel.
Born in January 1928, Milton had already divorced, lost a love to deployment in World War II, and buried a 2-month-old son who died of jaundice by the time she was 17.
Despondent and broke, she began accepting money for sex to make ends meet, starting work at the Chicken Farm in her late teens.
“[It was] an extremely stressful time [for his presidency]. As the covered-wagon origin tale is apocryphal, so are oft-told versions of how the Chicken Farm got its name.
One says that around the time of the Great Depression, since no one had money, the brothel began accepting chickens as payment.