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Good old days, not good

Sun Advocate publisher

A series of arrests shocked the area in July of 1951 concerning gambling and illicit activities.

How actually shocking it was, however, was also not unusual.

For years the police departments had looked the other way concerning various kinds of activities, including gambling and prostitution. In fact it was a joke across the state that if you wanted to gamble in Utah, one could come to Carbon County. The house of ill repute in the country also drew people from far and wide as well. Many were located in Helper, with a few in Price.

On the night of July 21, 1951, the Carbon County Sheriff's office along with some special deputies raided various kinds of establishments in both towns. As a result 12 women and four men were arrested and charged with various degrees of vagrancy.

In those days vagrancy was a catch all term to arrest someone until other offenses could be investigated.

According to the Sun Advocate of July 26, 1951 "three such establishments were raided in Helper including the Carbon, Newhouse and Rio Hotels and in Price the White Star, the New Grande and Central Hotels."

As the charges moved forward more came to light. For instance Wilma Needham from Texas was charged the next Monday with being a common prostitute. Her bail was set at $250, a bit of money at the time.

Each of the women arrested were noted in such a manner, and almost all of those listed were not from Carbon County, but from out of state.

One woman who was listed as being from Helper was charged with "living in and about a house of ill fame."

The next week nine additional complaints were filed against the defendants. One woman was charged with not only being a common prostitute, but for selling whiskey. The woman who had been arrested the week before for living around a house of ill fame, also was charged with selling whiskey as well, and her bail had gone up to $300. Unfortunately for the court, that second week she had already posted the previous bail and could not be found to be arrested again.

In fact in the next few weeks all but three of the people arrested forfeited their bail, and left town.

And in the end most of those charges were reduced, with one man jumping bail. It was one more story in the tale of the sleazy side of Carbon County.

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