At first glance, the January 18, 1968 issue of the College Heights Herald had a scoop that any student journalist would envy. A front-page story told of the arrest of three well-known local physicians in a midnight raid on “Pauline’s,” Bowling Green’s legendary brothel.
Pauline Tabor had been running her house of prostitution for about 35 years, but her discreet business acumen, kind personality, and generous financial support of local causes insulated her – at least until now – from most unwanted publicity. (Not until 1971, a few years after retiring, would she write a sensational memoir, a red-velvet-covered limited edition of which is held in WKU’s Special Collections Library.)
But wait – something else wasn’t quite right about this issue of the College Heights Herald. For one thing, the masthead read University Herald, and the exposé was dropped into its front-page slot in place of the real Herald’s lead article about a competition for the title of “Miss Western.”
Another giveaway was the story itself. Patrons caught in a house of ill repute were no doubt liable to make some creative excuses, but the stories of these doctors strained all credulity. One, a pediatrician, claimed that he was only making a house call, but his wardrobe – a turtleneck and red-and-white-striped shorts – belied his professional mission. The other two, nabbed while attempting to escape through a side door, insisted they were “making a public health survey and performing routine well-baby inoculations,” a claim that had prompted an investigation into which “babies” they were really working with that night. The story further disclosed that all three merry medics had been under surveillance for weeks “because of certain irregularities in their night time activities,” which had included “being observed after dark on the roof of a house owned by another local doctor.”
Also caught in the dragnet – found the next morning, in fact, in Pauline’s attic – was the superintendent of the local Electric Plant Board. His explanation? He had been called to check on some defective wiring, something he routinely did at night – as the girl found holding the flashlight for him could certainly attest.
We can’t precisely identify the prankster who so carefully “doctored” this issue of the Herald, but we suspect Dr. Thomas Baird, a colleague of the punked practitioners (upon whose roof, perhaps, they had initiated the mischief), and possibly other confederates in the medical community. Whoever was responsible, however, took admirable pains to create a tabloid that made town and gown alike do a double-take.
This fake-news issue of the College Heights Herald is held in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives of WKU’s Special Collections Library. For a finding aid, and to view that scandalous front page, click here. For more collections (including more on Pauline’s), search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.