Hot Springs, Ark., During Its Sin-Soaked Heyday

Jonathan Miles at the New York Times:

Hot Springs, as David Hill writes in “The Vapors,” a history of the town during its sin-soaked heyday, let a lot of people be — with varying degrees of vengeance. Among them were workaday gamblers and good-timers like Kelley, but also bookmakers, con artists, prostitutes, shills, crooked auctioneers, outlandishly corrupt politicians and boldface-named mobsters. From about 1870 until 1967, when the reformist governor Winthrop Rockefeller shut off the vice spigot, the town’s chief municipal expression was a wink. The mayors winked. The cops winked. The preachers winked, or at least averted their gaze. Winking was how a Bible Belt town of 28,000 (circa 1960) attracted upward of five million visitors per year and why, as Hill writes, on any given Saturday night, there may have been “no more exhilarating place to be in the entire country.”

more here.