As the city approaches the time of the year when the veil is thin and people are dusting off their best “sexy Mayor Foley” costume, the Tug is pleased to announce the first in a series of exclusive interviews with famous Portsmouth residents thanks to the seance services of a certain local occult store.
Our first ever excursion into “necro-journalism” landed us an interview with none other than Mary and Josie Prescott, the famous founders of Prescott Park. The following is a transcript of our seance with the ghosts of these seacoast legends.
OCCULT MEDIUM (OM): From across the veil and beyond the mists of time, we call to you, Josie and Mary Prescott, come to this place and be known!
MARY PRESCOTT (MP): Why have you SUMMONED us from our REST! You will feel the wrath of HEAVEN and HELL upon thee for thy transgress-
OM: (Screaming) We’re sorry! So sorry! You are rel-
MP: (Laughing) Just kidding. Gets ‘em every time.
JOSIE PRESCOTT (JP): My stars, Mary, there’s no need to terrorize these poor creatures.
MP: Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself.
THE TUG: Great, wonderful! I can’t believe we’re really talking to the spirits of the Prescott Sisters!
MP: Who’s this now?
JP: Don’t be rude.
TT: Sorry, Mary and Josie, please – maybe we got off on the wrong… you know what never mind. We’re from The Tug. A really real newspaper from the year 2019.
MP: Incredible. The year 2019? And, pray tell, how many times has the city burned down since 1939?
TT: Well, um, zero times.
TT: I… I guess so. Anyway, we wanted to get your perspective on a few things, namely, the park that you gifted to the town. There’s been a lot of argument around what your original intent was for the park, and what limits were on the entertainment you envisioned going on there. There is an arts festival there that has been running plays and concerts for the past forty years, by donation, but it has come under fire now and again from nearby residents due to noise, crowds, and arguments over building a permanent stage.
JP: Ah yes, the nearby residents. How are my girls doing, anyway?
TT: I’m sorry – your girls?
MP: You know, the working girls. The courtesans. The demimondaines.
TT: You mean – wait, are you talking about prostitutes?
JP: Yes, if you want to be uncouth about it.
TT: Um… there aren’t any? The brothels were all closed a long, long time ago. I mean, you two really revitalized the area with the park. When Portsmouth was no longer a sailor dive, all of that was gone. Now there’s mostly residents living in the historic buildings…
MP: Historic buildings! You’re telling me there’s no more night action at all?
TT: Well, no. Portsmouth, and Prescott Park in particular, is much more family friendly than it used to be.
JP: Unacceptable. Really, just awful. I guess that shows the perversion of facts over time.
TT: What do you mean? I don’t understand…
JP: We built the park for the town’s working girls!
MP: You see, during the golden age of the Red Light District, Mary Baker and Alta Roberts were constantly in competition with each other. That kept the facilities clean and the girls safe. After the Navy and the city cracked down, things went underground.
JP: Pitting the law against the abject horniness of the citizens of Portsmouth should have obviously been a losing battle. The black market made things really dangerous – just completely unsafe for our little strumpets! So we bought the whole area, tore everything down, and let the girls advertise themselves (keeping more of their own money, as it were) right in our beautiful park – out in the open, under streetlights, well supervised.
MP: You can’t stop the oldest profession in the world!
TT: I’m not sure I believe what I’m hearing. You’re saying you were both madams?
JP: No, we weren’t madams. We let the girls solicit in their own way. Freelance, if you will.
TT: That really runs counter to everything we’ve been told about the two of you. They say you built the park to clean up that part of town.
JP: And we did! What was once a run down dock ward was now a vibrant entertainment scene. It really heated things up, specially when swing hit it big. I mean when I started dancing to that [unintelligible] I would get so [unintelligible] I’d even [unintelligible] a [unintelligible]…
OM: We’re losing them. I can only keep the door open for so long.
TT: Wow, this has been very enlightening.
JP: [Unintelligible] I’m sure it has. Family concerts, indeed!
MP: Thank goodness we died before we could see it.