The “Chicken Ranch” – La Grange, Texas

Due to the title of this post, you might assume this article is about La Grange, Texas’ infamous “Chicken Ranch,” made famous by the Broadway play (1978) and movie (1982): The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas. If so, you would be partly correct.

This is actually a story in two parts:

  • Part 1: The Chicken Ranch and La Grange, as it is today.
  • Part 2: Marvin Zindler – A Texas Icon, the man who closed the Chicken Ranch, and the man who came to my rescue.

KTRK-TV & Marvin Zindler:


Marvin Zindler – 1921-2007

To begin this story, I must take you back to 1979, when my family relocated from Chicago, Illinois to Houston, Texas.  My parents and brother made an earlier trip to check out the region, and when I joined them in the move, the first thing my family insisted I do was watch the evening news to see the man who did the consumer reports segment on KTRK-TV.

They were absolutely in stitches about him, and the way he closed each segment with, “Marrrr-vin Ziinnndleeerrr, Eeeyeee Witnessss Neeeeewsss!” Over and over again they tried to mimic his voice, and I was convinced they were exaggerating for my benefit.

So there we were, sitting in our room in the La Quinta off Interstate 10, west of Houston, watching KTRK-TV Evening News’ Marvin Zindler report. It turns out my family were not exaggerating, and by the end of the broadcast we were all in stitches. Having just relocated from Chicago, Illinois, none of us had ever seen someone like Mr. Zindler before – we became his newest fans.

At the time I moved to Texas, I was unaware of Marvin Zindler’s role in the demise of the “Chicken Ranch,” or that the ranch even existed, and simply thought he was the most unique person I had seen on the news. Little did I know then, that 20+ years later, Mr. Zindler would be sitting in the dining room of our new home, and I would be the subject of one of his consumer reports. I will share that story with you in Part 2: Marvin Zindler – A Texas Icon, but for now, let’s take a quick tour of La Grange, and the remains of “Chicken Ranch.”

La Grange, Texas and “The Chicken Ranch”:

This past spring, my husband and I took a drive out to La Grange to stay in a local Bed & Breakfast, Brendan Manor, located near the town square.  My husband and I truly enjoy staying at B & B’s for their history and the food! Brendan Manor did not disappoint – on both counts. The city of La Grange has about 4,700 people, and makes a great B&B weekend retreat. It is located in Fayette County, near the Colorado River, about halfway between Houston and Austin on Highway 71.

Brendan Manor, La Grange, TX

Brendan Manor, La Grange, TX

Sam Houston (1793-1863)

Sam Houston (1793-1863)

Unaware to most, even Texans, is that La Grange almost became the capital of Texas.  In 1837 Congress passed a bill to make La Grange the Capital of the Republic of Texas (from 1836-1846 Texas was its own nation), but the first regularly elected president, General Sam Houston, moved the capital to, where else, Houston. However, President Sam Houston’s placement of the capital in the city that shares his name didn’t last for long, when, in 1839, Mirabeau B. Lamar, moved the capital to Austin, where it is to this day.

As for a tour of the “Chicken Ranch,” hopefully you are not disappointed, as these images show the closest you can get to the ranch without meeting up with the current sheriff of La Grange. As I’ve stated in past posts, as a Texan, I respect no trespassing signs.

But the truth be told, the “Chicken Ranch” no longer exists at this site, having been physically moved to Dallas long ago to become a restaurant (which did not succeed). All that is left are a few broken down sheds and a lot of brush.

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas put La Grange on the map, and created several Texas Icons, including Mr. Zindler. In Part 2, I will share my personal visit with him when he came to the rescue of my family, filming a segment for the evening news from my dining room.

Until then, might I suggest you listen to “La Grange” by ZZ Top, those good ol’ boys from Houston, Texas.


It has been 40 years since the ranch closed on August 1, 1973, as reported in a recent article by the Houston Chronicle. This article has several great pictures of the ranch in its heyday, along with one of Mr. Zindler.

Categories: La Grange, Stories & Anecdotes | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Six Word Saturday ~ Rustic elegance renews the writer’s soul.

The Log Cabin, Fredericksburg, Texas

“Rustic elegance renews the writer’s soul.”
The Log Cabin, Fredericksburg, Texas

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This post was inspired by the blogging prompt, “Show My Face: Six Word Saturday”  To learn more, click on the link, and join in on the fun.
Categories: Fredericksburg, Texas Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Object

I can still remember the day I watched one of Saturn V’s precious payloads land on the moon:

“Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” ~ Neil A. Armstrong

Saturn V - Nasa, Houston, Photo by Mrs. Padilly

For this week’s photo challenge: Object, I looked for a photo of the largest object I photographed in 2013. I think this will do: the Saturn V, at NASA in Houston, Texas.

According to Wiki: “It remains the tallest, heaviest, and most powerful rocket ever brought to operational status and still holds the record for heaviest payload launched and heaviest payload capacity to Low Earth orbit (LEO).”

Categories: Houston: Clear Lake Area, Texas Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Snowed at Mrs. Padilly’s House!

Snow at Mrs. Padilly'sA very rare occurrence indeed…
It snowed last night!
School’s cancelled!!
Children are happy!!!

(Look real hard and you will see it between the rocks…duh…)
Categories: Montgomery, Whereabouts | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cemetery Playground ~ Six Word Saturday

Cemetery Playground. Children Play. Graves Respected.

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Cemetery Playground

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“Cemetery Playground” is located in a community in Montgomery, Texas, USA, and is the final resting place of a mid-1800′s Texas family.
This post was inspired by the blogging prompt, “Show My Face: Six Word Saturdays”  To learn more, click on the link, and join in on the fun.
Categories: Montgomery, Texas Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Season’s Greetings from Mrs. Padilly


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States, which kicks off the holiday season in the Padilly household. With Padilly family members living all across America, this time of year is marked with lots of travel and visitors, making it a very busy time.  As such, I wanted to note that I will not be posting to my blog for the rest of 2013, and wanted to wish all of you “Season’s Greetings! May the month of December be filled with joy and happiness for you and your family.”

Snow-Storm-WebBut before I go, I thought it would be fun to share a couple of photos of “wintertime” in Texas. While it does snow with more frequency in the northern part of The Lone Star State, it is very rare where I live, and when it does it’s a big thing.

As a child growing up in Chicago, I loved to build snowmen, and if there is snow on the ground, I will build one. During a “snowstorm” a few years ago in Texas, I was able to bring together enough snow to build the little snowman you see above.  I think he stood a full five inches tall!

The photo to the right was taken in my backyard during our last “snowstorm” on February 3, 2011 (note Mrs. Padilly’s tree, somewhat blocked by the grill). I kid you not my friends from northern lands, this “snowstorm” closed down our schools for the day!  I know your laughing, but trust me, this is a good thing as you don’t want to be on the roads in southern Texas if there is even a sprinkling of snow or ice on the road. Yikes! ;)

Best to You All! See you next year!

Categories: Montgomery, Whereabouts | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Eerie

Aye Matey! How about the eerie ruins of the remains of a home, built on the remains of the home of the pirate Jean Lafitte? 


Today these concrete steps lead to nowhere, but in 1870 this structure was built on the foundation and old cellars of Lafitte’s home, Maison Rouge (Red House), which he burned to the ground when forced off the island in 1821 by the United States.

Jean Lafitte, acting as a spy for the Spanish during the Mexican War of Independence, set up his pirate colony on Galveston Island (part of Mexico at the time), and called it Campeche; turning the island into a smuggling base.

Located in a slightly neglected part of Galveston, just outside “The Strand,” most visitors drive right by Lafitte’s homestead, giving it little notice. But this Texas Historical Landmark, located on Harborside Drive, is worth a stop to take in the view of some real pirate history.  Especially at night, Matey…

For more Info:

Categories: Galveston, Texas Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Weekly Photo Challenge – Horizon

Horizon-WebThis morning, my husband took the kayak for an overnight man cave trip to Sam Houston National Forest, on the north side of Lake Conroe.

During this time, I received my e-mail for this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge – Horizon. As I was going through my photos to see what I could submit, my husband texted me this image from his kayak trip. Perfect timing, and I love his perspective of the horizon!

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Photo by “Mr. Padilly” – Lake Conroe, Texas – 10.25.2013
Categories: Conroe & Lake Conroe, Whereabouts | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Weekly Photo Challenge – The Hue of Me

Orange-Tree-WebThis time of year I crave the colors of orange and red, which are in short supply during the fall in Southeast Texas; to see the change of seasons, I typically go to Indiana to visit my daughter.

Since fall color is still about a month away in my neck of the woods, I have to share with you a picture I took last December.

I took this photo at the Montgomery County Library Annex in Montgomery, Texas. You might note that most of the plants around this tree are still green, making this bald cypress a real showstopper.

Categories: Montgomery, Texas Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Good Morning

Good_Morning_WebThis weekend my husband and I were in Clear Lake, Texas, to sell our sailboat, ‘Ohana.

We started the morning watching the sunrise from our table, and enjoying an all you can eat breakfast.

By 9:30 am I was ready for a nap.


Sunrise-Clear-Lake-WebThis image was taken about 30 minutes before breakfast, while we were still in our room.

Clear Lake is a major boating, fishing, dining, and entertainment destination in the Houston area, and home to NASA. From the lake, you can sail out to Galveston Bay, and then on to the Gulf of Mexico; a trip we have made a few times.

In my next post, I will share pictures from the Kemah Boardwalk; a special place for Padillys.

Categories: Houston: Clear Lake Area, Whereabouts | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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