Kentucky’s Most Famous Madam Dead at 87
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) _ A magnanimous madam who helped feed hungry families and gave her brothel employees one week per month off to spend with their families has died of congestive heart failure at 87.
Pauline Tabor Webster died Monday night at a nursing home near San Antonio. Kentucky’s most famous madam moved to Texas more than 10 years ago to live near her son.
″Aside from her commercial pursuit, Pauline was ... a good friend you could count on,″ said local historian Ray Buckberry Jr.
He said court and welfare officials often turned to her for help in getting a family some coal or food.
In her 1971 book, ″Pauline’s,″ she had ″no regrets, no apologies, no complaints″ about life as a madam, Webster said.
She got into the brothel business with a party in November 1933, shocking her friends and family. She did this after spending three years as a Depression-era divorcee trying to support two small sons and an ailing mother by selling cosmetics and hosiery door to door.
The 5-foot-6-inch, 200-plus-pound madam made her employees dress, talk and act like society ladies, and she took them for regular health checkups.
Except when periodic police raids shut Pauline’s down, the employees worked three weeks, then were supposed to spend the fourth week with their families.
During this time, Tabor married Paul Webster, bought a 120-acre farm, and made a second reputation as an organic farmer years before that became popular.
She also briefly ran bordellos in Louisville and Columbus, Ind.
″I’m much too busy enjoying my life, my children and grandchildren, my friends, a lovely country home, a healthy bank account, and priceless memories of a happy marriage,″ she wrote in her book.
″But I would start my business in a distant city, where my private life could remain a secret and my family would be spared a lot of unnecessary grief and notoriety.″
Urban renewal tore down the red brick, antique-filled brothel in Bowling Green more than 20 years ago.
Relatives brought Webster’s body back to Bowling Green on Tuesday for burial in a family plot.
Survivors include a son, Raymond Tabor of University City, Texas, and a sister, Mary Ryon of Midland, Mich.