Image for the poem My Great-Grandmother, the Queen of Frogtown

My Great-Grandmother, the Queen of Frogtown

Sitting in the cozy corner of the downtown Dallas library I was drawn deeper into the mysterious life of my great-grandmother, Louise. At 28 weeks pregnant, with a growing life inside me, the urge to unravel the secrets of my family's past is strong.  
Louise, the enigmatic figure whose existence is little more than whispers and faded photographs, holds a special place in my curiosity. Born in the early 1930s, she navigated the shifting landscape of Dallas in the late 1950s, a time when the city was bustling with industrialization. But it wasn't the factories or the skyscrapers that defined her—it was Frogtown, the vice district where she carved out her legacy.
They called her the White Queen of Frogtown, a title that both intrigued and puzzled me. What was it about Louise that earned her such a moniker? As I flip through the yellowed pages of historical records, I begin to piece together fragments of her story.
It seems Louise was not just a mere participant though in the underworld of Frogtown, a Dallas district known for vice, though that must have been her beginnings; she was a formidable presence, a successful businesswoman who commanded respect in a world dominated by men. Her ventures flourished through the 1950s and into the early 1970s, a testament to her resilience and cunning.
But despite her success, Louise remains an enigma. What drove her to enter such a world? Was it out of necessity, or perhaps something deeper, something hidden beneath the surface of respectability?
As I delve deeper into the archives, I can't help but feel a connection to this woman who lived decades before me. Like me, she was on the cusp of motherhood, navigating a world filled with uncertainty and change. She must have known the same desires for intimacy I’ve known. Did she live a happy life? Who was the father of my grandmother? There are so many questions.  Though her choices were unconventional, there's a part of me that admires her courage, her defiance in the face of societal expectations.
I may never fully uncover the truth about Louise, the White Queen of Frogtown, but in tracing her footsteps through history, I feel a sense of kinship, a bond that transcends time and space. And as I rest my hand on my swelling belly, I can't help but wonder what stories my daughter will write with her life.
Written by Nizana (Lauryn)
Published | Edited 22nd Feb 2024
Author's Note
That Louise was called the "White" Queen of Frogtown makes me wonder about the other queens that must have been active during her time.
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