Mobile Bawdy House

In the years following World War II, Fairbanks had a lot of transients moving in and out of the city for work and military duty. It seemed everyone was in the party mood, leading to the rise of some very seedy areas and activities throughout the town. The following newspaper article recounts two enterprising couples who found a new “low rent” way to make money in Fairbanks, much to the chagrin of the district attorney.

Fairbanks Daily News Miner – April 30, 1954


Is a 1951 Chrysler Imperial a bawdy house? In the case of Lois Jones, and Mary Battista, charged with operating a bawdy house, opposing attorneys in a hearing yesterday in the U.S. commissioner’s court agreed that a covered wagon, boat, garden, or race track should be; but not an automobile, and specifically the one allegedly operated by the two girls.

The two girls were arrested by U.S. marshals, April 16th in Mooreland Acres and charged with vagrancy and operating a bawdy house. This house was on wheels however, resulting in the argument in court. Attorney Everett Hepp argued a motion to dismiss the charge, with assistant district attorney George Yeager contending that a house is where you find it and could take any shape or form.

Cases bearing up each attorney’s convictions were cited, with Hepp charging the government with trying to prosecute a person for prostitution, which he says is not a crime in Alaska.

Lois Jones, aged 19 and Mary Battista, age 22, were both arrested, as well as their husbands charged with the crimes. All four, who live at 312 Wendell, were arraigned before the U. S. commissioner, with Lois Jones having a total of $1,300 bond placed against her. Mary Battista was released on $800 bond, with Jones, an airman at Ladd being released on $1,250 bail. Battista’s bail totaled $400.

Joseph Jones was charged with three counts of aiding a woman to obtain transportation for the purpose of prostitution and one count of permitting a woman to whom he is married to practice prostitution. Victor Battista, was charged with the one count of permitting a woman to whom he is married to practice prostitution.

U.S. Commissioner LaDessa Nordale took the motion to dismiss the charges against the two women under advisement and… (that’s it, the rest of the article was cut off due to a publishing error! Don’t you hate it when that happens?)

Note: while we don’t know for sure the final outcome of this controversial case, we can guess that automobiles likely made the list of possible bawdy houses. Attorney Everett Hepp was a member of the Fairbanks Men’s Igloo, later becoming a Superior Court Judge in Fairbanks. His wife, Dorothy Hepp, was a member of the Fairbanks Women’s Igloo. This bawdy history nugget was brought to you today by Men’s Igloo No. 4 and Women’s Igloo No. 8 of the Pioneers of Alaska, who would like to remind everyone that if you see a big Chrysler that is a rockin’, don’t bother knockin’! Just call the city police, or wait your turn!

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