Someone asked that question on Facebook today. Finally, after all these years I had to go public, I had to answer the question once and for all–I had insider information on the case I had kept secret for more than 50 years that I couldn’t take to my grave! Here is the sullen truth at last exposed to the “Sunlight of Truth.”
I doubt it is still there due to legal and social problems back in the very early 60s. “Wendy’s Hideaway” was a “cat house” like they have legally set up in Nevada these modern, “progressive” times. Back then, “Wendy’s Hideaway” was well-known to the local Belfast men and ignored, it was offered, by the local women–if, in fact, they knew of it at all.
Rumor was the men were quite discreet sneaking in and out of it while the women were actually happy to have them “visit” Ms. Wendy and her “daughters” once or twice a month. That way the wives didn’t have to be bothered with their marriage duties in the bedroom at all. Many of the men planted extra rows of corn, cucumbers, some musk melons, and other staple-type vegetables in the summer to “exchange” for whatever occurred in that house itself. So the women were actually doubly happy, no, triply happy. They didn’t lose any money from their household budget by their husbands’ wastefully spending it there. They were relieved from any romantic happenings expected of them occasionally, and, with the extensively bigger gardens, the men were out hoeing and weeding most all summer until way after 10 pm. The “go-get” girls then set up about three or four roadside stands at several prime traffic areas just outside of the Belfast city limits and sold the produce they received in barter. Made damned good money, too, I was told. They did have some small tents set up around the stands, more near the woods, and, at my current age, I now know why. What entrepreneurs those girls were back then!
Back when women had very little opportunity to earn money, invest, and retire happy and even wealthy., these women had forward-looking goals and a business plan beyond reproach. That women were disadvantage in those days was true everywhere, but especially so in the hopelessly impoverished, rural State of Maine. I have been told that the girls working in that house all retired quite comfortably, had been investing in Maine’s beautiful, rustic, cheap waterfront properties of such pristine bodies of water locally as Sanborn Pond, Cross Pond, Saint Georges Lake, and even that larger lake over on the other side of the Penobscot River.
The “business” establishment itself was actually located just off Lord Street in Belfast. (What a coincidence?) It operated quite successfully in the 40s, 50s, and into the early 60s. I was never old enough to sneak into the “house,” but I heard real good things about the girls there! “Real little go-getters!” they were commonly called. One summer, Aunt Ruth got us kids a job raking blueberries. We made piddling money for the long hours and backbreaking work, but I managed to smuggle many quarts of fresh blueberries all the month of August. I took these to “Wendy’s Hideaway” and attempted to gain access to whatever it was they did there that all the men in town–and the surrounding towns–were so enthused over.. When I appeared at their back door with many quarts of blueberries in hand, the “go-getters” giggled and laughed among themselves, but I will honestly admit I was never allowed in. However, they loved those sweet, fresh blueberries to the last “getter” and weren’t about to pass them up, accepted whatever I brought, and said they would open an account for me for future business when I turned eighteen years of age and was legal. The girls were nice to me, said they would open a separate page in their ledger book, a page just for me just like in my little bank book. (I do admit I built up a nice little credit account from three summer of berries and from the milk, cottage cheese, and broiler chickens in the winter months.
“Wendy’s Hideaway” was always “winked” at by the Mayor, Police, etc., until Mrs Buella Thompson caught her husband, “Loppy,” coming out of the back door one cold February winter’s day with his fly unzipped. She was quite active in the First Baptist Church, a moral leader if you will, so let’s just say things got a lot colder for Ol Loppy the rest of the winter–in fact, it was quite chilly anywhere around him for the rest of his life!
Then it was Mrs. Thompson who was doing all the “go-getting”–she “go-get” the Chief of Police, and she “go-get” the Mayor, who then lost the election the following November, She “go-get”‘ed” everyone, good or bad, church goer or Wendy’s Hideaway “customer.” She even tried to “go-get” the “GO GET GIRLS”–the moniker their lawyer gave them as the scandal, although squelched pretty much in Belfast, began getting attention as far south as Portland. Some contend to this day that a book was written, a movie made, and other merchandise produced which made all connected wealthy–well, at least the lawyer, as is commonly the case.
Of course, before they would cooperate with any book or movie deals, they had it in writing that the names and places had to be changed so as to never reflect back on Belfast–their home town, too. There would never be a “Peyton Place” in Maine! They soon became famous for being known as the local “Happy Girls.” They became so famous, considering Belfast was a pretty staid small city in those days and much of the gossip was squelched by Mrs. Thompson and her band of women–ruthless women, too–that few dared speak of “Wendy’s Hideaway.” The “Go Get Girls” threatened to open their book of appointments and fees paid by whom to the city newspaper, “The Republican Journal.” Mrs. Thompson, supposedly, was confidentially informed that her husband was one of their best customers and often brought them bushels of sweet corn, cucumbers, and anything of value he could scrounge up all summer. Seems Ol’ Loppy was addicted to Wendy’s “menu.”
The respite–or maybe more aptly the despite–shuttered soon thereafter–right before my eighteenth birthday, too, damned it!