Woman has some strong opinions on lots of stuff | NevadaAppeal.com
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Woman has some strong opinions on lots of stuff

Barry Ginter
Nevada Appeal Editor

Patricia Barrett’s letter was brief and strongly worded.

“I am 87 years old, a female, I was born in Nevada and raised in mining camps throughout the state. Prostitution was a fact of life, but it was very low key and discreet.

“The free advertising the papers gave Gilman and Hoff, the wealthy pimps, is disgusting, unnecessary and lets the rest of the country know how dissolute Nevada is.

“They obviously don’t have to advertise. The papers give it to them for free. What’s next? Billboards? Do we have no shame?

“I say NO to prostitution advertising.”

The Appeal’s editorial assistant, who calls letter writers to confirm authorship and knows I like to talk to people with strong opinions, suggested I give her a call.

And when I did, Patricia Barrett did not disappoint. Strongly opinionated, for sure, but someone who manages to be friendly at the same time and makes sure she’s got the reasoning to back up her beliefs.

Her views on prostitution need little embellishment, but suffice it to say she has little use for people like Joe Conforte, who opened the Mustang Ranch in 1971 as the first licensed brothel in the state.

“I knew Conforte,” she said. When she worked for the state’s tax division, he would come in with his women and make quite a show of it.

“He’d pass out passes to the men,” she said, and talk to everyone else.

“He has a photographic memory, which is why he is such a good bridge player,” she said.

One day Conforte saw her in Safeway grocery shopping and called out to her.

“I was so humiliated I wanted to drop through the floor,” she said. She turned and walked the other way.

Barrett believes prostitution is here to stay, but sees the ruling that allows them to advertise as another blemish on society.

“Where have our morals gone?” she asks. “Our young girls in high school look like the whores of my youth. Prostitutes would be embarrassed by how they dress.”

Same goes for the guys who wear the baggy pants.

“It’s stupid,” she said. She said when she gets behind one of them, she fights the urge to give those pants a yank.

“Aren’t I bad?”

So her beliefs are strong. Barrett brought up the calendar girls, the local, mature women who posed suggestively recently for a calendar to raise funds for a sick friend.

If you’re a calendar girl, you’re probably bracing for a harsh judgment about now. But take a breath.

“I think those calendar girls did a wonderful thing,” she said. “Bless their souls. But I wouldn’t have had the guts to do it.”

The difference between them and women in brothels?

“The calendar girls aren’t selling themselves. What they’re doing is helping a sick woman.”

In fact, Barrett may hate the way kids dress, but she says she sees the good in them, too.

“They’re good kids,” she said. “Everybody wants to do the right thing … how can you do moral things when you’re surrounded by immoral things?”

And she has an optimistic view of the future. Things, in general, will get better, she said.

She fully expects to be here to see what happens next.

“I’m going to live 25 years, at least.”

•••

In a letter in last Friday’s Appeal, Tom Huffman, a new resident to the city, wrote that he’d noticed sprinklers at the capitol on at 3 in the afternoon, seemingly a violation of city water restrictions that dictate days and times that people may water. He asked if there is an exemption for the capitol.

Joseph Scott, who takes care of the irrigation systems at 25 state buildings, explains that he does abide by the city’s water restrictions, watering after 7 p.m. and before 10 a.m., but that Huffman may have noticed the sprinklers on during a test. They are tested every time a lawn is mowed, edged or aerated to ensure the irrigation equipment wasn’t broken.

They have to do that because an undetected broken pipe could cause a great deal of damage once the system automatically turns on at night.

The rest of the time, Scott says, they follow the rules religiously.

“The water guy will come right to our office and tell us,” he said. “We’ve got to abide by the rules.”

•••

There’s a special event coming up in September to honor members of the Armed Forces from Nevada, as well as those who have been injured or killed in Afghanistan or Iraq.

The statewide event will be sponsored by Silver Oak Golf Course and the Nevada Patriot Fund.

It will include a classic car and bike show, a street dance and a display of military equipment. They also promise entertainment, guest celebrities and fireworks.

The event will be Saturday, Sept. 29 from 3-11 p.m. All of the money raised will be disbursed to soldier’s families.

Some of the employees at the golf course came up with the idea after reading about another Nevada resident dying in the war.

To make the event a success, they’re looking for donations and assistance, as well as car, bike and craft vendors and exhibitors. If you can help, contact Judie at 775-841-7000, ext. 1019.

• Barry Ginter is editor of The Appeal. You can reach him at 881-1221 or via e-mail at bginter@nevadaappeal.com