Mystery surrounds Miss Rita’s early life. Raised in a prosperous, but unnamed Oregon family in the early 1900s, she left home to dance for a time with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo before she joined the vaudeville circuit. During her first, brief marriage, it’s unclear why she became a prostitute.
When the Great Depression forced the decline of vaudeville theatres, Miss Rita arrived in Beaumont, the oil city enjoying its second petroleum boom. She probably knew about the vast wealth in the southeast Texas city from her tours on the vaudeville circuit and from Beaumont’s fame as the locale of Spindletop, the first big oil gusher in 1901 that led to the creation of industry giants like Gulf and Texaco.
Miss Rita rented facilities for her trade from Charles Ainsworth, but soon took a liking to his son Nathaniel. The couple…
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