Once Notorious Area Madam Dies In Quiet Obscurity

Forty years ago, in 1972, Lillian (aka: Ginger) Tailford Belt, 53 years of age, was one of the most notorious women in Northwest Ohio.  As the area’s most famous madam and operator of an equally famous house of ill repute in Ottawa County, she and a small army of accomplices were facing a major federal indictment that included numerous charges, including tax evasion, white slavery and bribery.  It was a case that captured the public’s attention, offering a trial filled with steamy testimony, but also revealing the seamy and sordid underbelly of the prostituion trade and how the “Round the Clock Grille” on Woodville Road was able to evade criminal prosecution for so many years.  The revelations would eventually bring down the sitting Ottawa County sheriff James Ellenberger and sent former Ottawa county sheriff Myron Hetrick to prison for helping to distribute tens of thousands of dollars in bribes.

In the center of the stormy scandal was a striking blonde by the name of Lillian Tailford Belt. known by many as “Ginger”.  She was accused of running the operation for decades, since the 1950’s.  She was also linked to the notorious Rosie Pasco of Port Clinton who was reputed to have a run a similar operation for many years near Camp Perry during the war years when that area was home to thousands of lonely soldiers. Rose Pasco was also charged.  The evidence and testimony in the 1972 trial against Lillian and her co-defendants was  overwhelming. The federal agencies that orchestrated the case had done their homework.  Lillian Belt was convicted and sentenced to a four-year term at a women’s federal prison facility in Arizona, the state where she had been living in the years prior to the federal raid on the “Clock”.

Because of the “Clock’s” location at the corner of Woodville Road and Fostoria Road, about 5 miles northwest of Genoa,  I actually knew Lillian. Not well, but during the mid-60’s while I was a carryout boy at a popular Genoa grocery store where Lillian and her two children often shopped for groceries.Not just for their River Road home near Elmore, but also for the women who worked and stayed at the “Round the Clock”whorehouse.  It was my job, at times, to deliver groceries to both locations. My education in the ways of the world began early. It was always hard for me to believe that the local law enforcement agencies didn’t know what was going on there, when as a 16-year-old, I knew, and so did everybody else.

So for me, it was not just journalistic curiosity, but also personal inquiry, that led me to recently wonder whatever happened to Lillian Pasco Tailford Belt. What happened after she left prison? Did she ever come back to Ohio? Was she even alive?  That I assumed was not probable, given that 40 years had passed since the trial and she was at least 30 years my senior. I just assumed she had probably gone to her final reward many years ago. And after some Internet searches, I did confirm that she, in fact, had passed away, but just a few years ago, in 2009, in her beloved Phoenix at the age of 90.  The obit was really just a short death notice. I’ve been unable to find any other information, nor was there any mention of her one-time public celebrity in Ohio. Even the Toledo Blade missed the event.  Her final days merely yielded a short notice in the Phoenix paper and a schedule for the funeral service. It appears that she must have lived out the balance of her life after the Toledo court case(over 35 years) in relative obscurity in Paradise Valley, Arizona.   Now as a storyteller by nature, this has bothered me. I wish I could have had the chance to have listened to and documented her life story. All of the stories and colorful memories that had no doubt  grown in the garden of her most unusual life.  One can only surmise that Lillian had much more to tell, much more to reveal, more more to have riveted our attention, beyond what had surfaced in the Toledo trial. What a story – still untold.

Today, as I pass by the corner of Woodville and Fostoria roads, the old “Round the Clock” truck stop and house of ill-repute is long gone, burned down and replaced, ironically by a bank. Nothing left on the corner to remind us or future generations of what took place there. How on so many nights, the parking lot at this rural outpost, would be filled with a fleet of yellow taxi cabs from Toledo who brought out men day and night for sample of what was NOT on the menu , how the red hand on the big neon clock on the otuside of the white aluminum siding would blink round and round in circles as an invitation to stop in and see for yourself what earthly “delights” were to be found up the back stairs.   But 40 years have passed.  The “clock” has now stopped. For good. Along  with a moment in time that lives only for those who remember.



Filed under Toledo area crime news

25 responses to “Once Notorious Area Madam Dies In Quiet Obscurity

  1. Did the grille serve food?
    If so, did you ever get a sandwich there?

  2. Cheryl

    This is one of your best pieces! It starts well and ends thoughtfully. That gives readers the gift of pondering “What ifs?”

    Love to all of you from sunny, warm Bawl less more!

  3. Unlearned Hand

    Went there many times in the 50’s. In fact, I got my first POA there. Still remember it!

  4. Pingback: Fun restaurant named after a “working girl” | Along the Water's Edge

  5. Jerry

    Never visited there but lived 3 houses down all my growing up years. Interesting memories… my sleep disrupted by truckers air brakes all night long. LOL.

  6. Tim

    Yep, it was during my age of innocence that I met a girl by the name of Dominique, up the stairs I went,juke box playing and a line of girls waiting to show you the pleasures of the world! Into a private room where money was exchanged and a wonderful woman disrobed and took my private parts,washed them,laid me back on a bed and showed me the best ten seconds of my young life!

    • diane krueger

      When i was young we ate at the restaurant, just a grade school student, but i knew what was going on upstairs.

      • It was amazing how everybody seemed to know, but it was allowed to run without any legal interference for years. I guess we now know that money was keeping the law away from the doorsteps. I am also learning some other new information and may have an update soon. There were many other interesting facets to this story.

  7. HiPlaneDrifter

    If she retired to Paradise Valley, wealthiest city in AZ, she obviously didn’t have to forfeit her ill-gotten earnings. Last night, driving up I-17 North from Phoenix, ‘Round the Clock’ popped into mind for first time since early 60s when I frequent the joint with fraternity friends from Ann Arbor. Thank you, Ohio law enforcement, for being mercifully selective.

  8. na

    Rocket Rod,

    While participating in the national rifle matches at camp perry we annually visited the CLOCK. Vickie!!!! gave the worlds greatest mouth hug and our gang of 6 guys would take turns waiting for her…. The half and half was the worlds best.. LONG LIVE THE CLOCK and VICKIE!! PS.. How about that pro kit!? haha Sign, Rocket Rod..

  9. Don Pasco

    Lived next door to the Clock ,my mom and stepfather owned Texaco Gas station which was a wedding gift from my grandmother, Rose Pasco ,father Nick Pasco had divorced mom and Grandma Rose was not happy about it that’s the reason for wedding gift, I remember playing pinball at Clock restaurant with aunt Ginger and uncle Mike Pasco and aunt Janet Pasco . always a lot of semi’s running all night long.. Moved to Michigan stayed in touch with grandma Rose until she passed away. Some think her way of making a living was terrible, but I can tell you she was a great person without question..

    • Bailey

      Don Pasco, I keep hearing about ‘Round the Clock in Port Clinton” This isn’t really that close to Port Clinton. Also, Don do you have any pictures of the area. buildings in the area? Anyone have photos?

      • Bailey… The Round the Clock was on Woodville Road at Fostoria Road, about 5 miles from Genoa, very close to the town of Millbury. Port Clinton had its own brothel that was run by Rose Pasco…the one time mother-in-law to Ginger, or Lillian Belt, who had been once married to Rose’s son Michael.

      • Bailey

        Amazing information for sure, thank you for that information. I found a site of the man who was a snitch for the FBI and brought both places down, he wrote a book about it as well; Casimir (Ki) Jadwisiak, I think I’ll see if its at the library.

        After years of study in this ‘profession’ I have come to conclude that the ‘respectable’ women knew about the houses, didn’t like them but at the same time WANTED THEM. Few birth control methods in the 1800’s, women were in a position that if they didn’t put out for their husbands the husband could file for divorce, she would be kicked out into the streets and get nothing. So, she had to balance, put up and risk 15 kids or shut up and let the ol’ man go down the street. I could be wrong, but this is what I’ve concluded from my readings. ANY PICTURES of either establishments?

  10. Jackie DeShannon

    I worked at the clock back in the sixtys. Lady who was in charge then name was Nancy. I went by the name Jackie DeShannon. Worked there four or five years til they got busted. I enjoyed the people who were affiliated with the restaurant & all the johns were perfect gentlemen!! Food was actually very good. We all ate it. They served us whatever we asked for. Got out of the business after that but The Clock played a big part of my life. Girls were very clean & checked the guys for diseases. Had to see a doctor once a week to make sure nothing got by us. Made mucho money there!! There were 6 or 7 girls there day & night. We were like one big happy family!! Never met the owner because she lived in Arizonia but Nancy & her husband ised to visit her all the time.

    I also worked for Rosie in Port Clinton but her place couldn’t compare to The Clock!!

    Hope l enlightened everyone a little bit more…it was a great place with great people!!

    • Virginia Ruth Relation

      Hi, did you ever work with Virginia Ruth?… she used to have a CB handle of KYLady because she was from Kentucky. I’m a relative of hers.

  11. rv

    did they own the house right next to it also?

  12. 1982bfpl

    remember, I wonder if Mike Kelly saw this one

  13. Turbo

    I pumped gas down the road as a teenager. Cars came in,usually at night, with either a couple of men or women looking for directions to “the clock”. The license plates were from everywhere.

  14. Lou – right up there with the Chicken Ranch in LaGrange, TX, for sure. Legendary in Ann Arbor; every male on campus was going to go “next weekend”, but I doubt many of them really did.

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