Frankie and “Johnnie,” and Ways That Are Dark

August 19, 2016 § Leave a comment

Today in Guy Town History:

A nice young “john,” he was, with plenty of money, accompanied with an earnest longing to take in Austin town and see the sights if it took a whole week. With his mind comfortably made up and this purpose firmly established and buried beneath the weight of diverse drinks, he procured a carriage and set out to learn something of ways that are dark and things that are crooked.

That afternoon he rode around the city taking in at regular intervals schooners of beer, until he was boozy and serenely indifferent as to who or where he was. In this condition he was driven to Fannie Kelley’s maison de l’amour at the corner of Cedar and Lavaca, and taking into the carriage Frankie Howard, started out on a moonlight ride.

They were out until three o’clock in the morning, when they returned to Fannie Kelley’s and, getting out, dismissed the carriage. They at once entered the house and ordered wine for two. It was furnished, and the fascinating Frankie requested the nice young john to foot the bill. Instantly his hand was down into his pants pocket and instantly it was out again and into another, and from there it was into all the pockets he had about him, while a ghastly look of goneness spread itself over his countenance.

He missed a purse containing 480 dollars and at once accused Frankie of having picked his pocket while in the carriage. She vehemently proclaimed her innocence, and she, the nice young john, and Fannie Kelly carefully searched the room, but no purse could be found.

The nice young john then declared his unalterable intention of searching Frankie, but Frankie positively refused to undergo the ordeal, whereupon the nice young john sent for an officer, but before he arrived, Frankie concluded to let Fannie Kelley search her, which she did, but no money purse found.

Strange to say, however, someone in the room peering around did discover the purse under the bed, where, just a few minutes before, the combined eyes of Fannie Kelley, Frankie, the nice young john and the carriage driver had failed to see it. It was examined, and the 480 dollars was safe, the wine was paid for, and Frankie, who it was believed had the purse about her person and during the search had contrived to get rid of it and kicked it under the bed, was arrested by the policeman who had arrived.

She was conducted to the lock up, but the following morning, August 19, 1880, the nice young john refused to post in an appearance and make a complaint, and Frankie was released from custody.

(P.S.: “Johnnie” is 1880s slang for a prostitute’s customer, or what we now call a “john.”)

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