By Ken Molestina

by Ken Molestina | CBS 11

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM)Aside from prostitution, heavy boozing and gambling rounded out the trio of vices that helped define the wild west behavior within Fort Worth’s long gone, but infamous “Hells Half Acre.”

Richard Selcer is a TCU historian and author of the book “Hells Half Acre.”

“Nobody took baths,” explained Selcer. “There was no air conditioning. Nobody used deodorant. Very few people brushed their teeth and those where the kind of people who were there.”

According to Selcer, they all were there for a raucous good time that usually turned dangerous.

Selcer says rotgut ( a form of crude moonshine) whiskey and warm beer were the only options for drinks at the time.

“If you came in with money you went up to the bar they served you a knock out drink, and when you woke up, if you woke up still alive you were out in the back alley of the bar without any money,” said Selcer.

Gambling was usually taking place in the back rooms of saloons.

The popular games were games of chance called Faro, Monty and Keno.

Selcer said they were almost always rigged.

“If you didn’t know how to play Faro, didn’t know how to do Keno. Didn’t know what monty was maybe you did sit down at the table and maybe do a 5-card stud,” he said.

And just like drinking, Selcer said, “Whatever money you had you take out and pretty soon you don’t have any money, and pretty soon you find yourself in a back alley.”

The acre’s activities were traps for the patrons.

However, a lot of the money would later recirculate back into city coffers.

Selcer says the revenue from the acre would usually flow into other places through fines and fees, or through regulations and business agreements of some legitimate businesses.

Historians say the reality is there was so much money being made that it benefited city officials to often ignore most of the illegal activity that brought in those dollars.

According to Selcer, “All the money they spent in the acre some of it is going to wind up in the business, but in city coffers one way or another.”

By 1920, a push to dismantle “The Acre” and its activities ended or moved the vices elsewhere in the city.

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