Modern Living: House on the Range

It wasn't much to look at: linoleum on the floors, a small waiting room with metal folding chairs, a jukebox, the bedrooms out back. But to the townspeople of La Grange (pop. 3,000), as well as to farmhands and college students in the surrounding East Texas counties, Edna's Fashionable Ranch and Boarding House, known as "the Chicken Ranch," was as cherished as any monument, and far more functional.

Started in 1844, the Chicken Ranch had seen a string of madams. The latest was a comely brunette in her 40s, Edna Milton. Nobody knew where...

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