Rosie’s Place: Remembering Rosie, Part 1

Apr 9, 2024 | Featured, Around Ottawa County | 1 comment

Joanne Zam said that Father Brand, right, believed that Rosie’s Brothel added an unusual level of protection for the town’s females. (Submitted photo)

BY SHERI TRUSTY

The story, “Rosie’s Place: the end of an unwanted era,” that ran in the Feb. 22 Beacon, stirred memories across Ottawa County and beyond. Editor Sheri Trusty spoke with several locals about their memories of growing up in the shadow of Rose Pasco’s brothel. In part one of “Rosie’s Place: Remembering Rosie,” Trusty shares the first of those stories.

Joanne Zam

As a young girl in the 1940s, living on State Rd. right around the corner from Rosie’s, Joanne Zam didn’t understand the nature of Rosie’s business.

“Growing up, I didn’t know what it was. Now, knowing what it was, it’s altogether different,” she said.

When Zam was about eight, a man mistook Zam’s home for Rosie’s brothel.

“He was drunk and beating at the door, trying to get it,” Zam said. “My mom was there alone with two little kids, and she was scared.”

That was the last straw for Zam’s father, who went to a local priest, Father Brand, for help shutting Rosie’s down.

Joanne Zam grew up around the corner from Rosie’s brothel. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

“Father was aware of it. Everyone was aware of it,” Zam said. “Father said it was the lesser of two evils. With that place open, they’ll leave your wife and daughter alone.”

Although the priest had altruistic reasons for ignoring Rosie’s business, others in town turned a blind eye when Rosie filled their wallets. Others simply benefited from her generosity.

“I’m sure she made a lot of money. She was a very generous person. She helped a lot of people,” Zam said.

In the 1950s, Zam’s mother worked at Gulas Market at the corner of Lincoln and State streets, where Rosie would call in orders for delivery.

“My mom told me Rosie would come in to pay her bill, and she would come with a whole wad of ones,” Zam said.

Her mother told Zam that Rosie “was the nicest person.”

“Like Father told my dad, it was not a reputable profession, but it kept the ladies safe,” Zam said.

Joanne was a young girl living in this home on State St. when an inebriated man mistook the house for Rosie’s brothel. (Submitted photo)

Warren Leonard once had the opportunity to deliver mattresses to Rosie’s brothel. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

Warren Leonard

In the early 1960s, Warren Leonard worked for Gerner and Wolfe furniture store.

“Rosie used to come in and look around occasionally, like women do,” Leonard said. “One time, she came in and ordered five single mattresses. My coworker, Max, and I had to deliver them.”

The girls teased the boys with “snide remarks.”

“Max and I were young men. We were a little apprehensive,” Leonard said. “It was quite an experience.”

Leonard remembers that Rosie had a second business in Woodville called the Crystal Inn.

“Rosie’s in Port Clinton was more popular. You could mention her name anywhere, and people knew her,” he said.

Ernie Hopkins

When Ernie Hopkins was serving as a radio operator during the Vietnam War, it was standard to ask the other person on the line about their hometown. When Hopkins mentioned he was from Ohio, the man asked him if he’d ever heard of Rosie’s.

“I told him, ‘Believe it or not, it’s a half mile from my home,’” Hopkins said. “What’s the chances he had heard of Rosie’s?”

Rosie kept high standards in her low-standard business. Many people said she had a strict rule prohibiting underage boys in the house, but that didn’t keep them from trying to sneak peeks at the ladies.

When Hopkins was about 14, he and a group of friends decided to ride their bikes across the bell hose Rosie installed in her yard to announce when customers arrived.

“One guy got the idea to ride across the ding-dong bell. There were five of us, which meant the bell rang ten times. Then we swung back around and did it again,” Hopkins said. “Rosie opened the door and told us to go home. She said, ‘I know where you live, and I’ll call your mothers.’”

It was the scariest threat Rosie could make.

“We couldn’t let our mothers know what we were doing,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins was too young to be tempted by Rosie’s when he left for Vietnam, and it had closed by the time he returned. He never did see the inside of the business, but he did take a piece of it home.

“I knew a man who owned the house after it closed, and he said there was a little sink in every bathroom. He gave me one, and I had it for many years,” Hopkins said. “Do you know how much money went down that drain?”

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1 Comment

  1. Scott Gresser

    Rosie’s should always be a proud part of PC history and never a tarnish.

    Reply

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