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Ep. 138 The Bourbon and Ham Club

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

There have been many conversations of late discussing systemic issues in our world. While we've given many examples of current issues within the justice system, it is important to look back at the foundation of such a system to understand why it operates the way it does today.


For Portland, the corrupt history of the police bureau and local government is a story that isn't special to our city, though it does contain some uniquely Portland elements.


This is the story of Big Jim Elkins and how pinball machines, teamsters, gangsters, bootleggers, drug dealers, and gambling dens in every corner of the city helped form both its police and local government, one bribe at a time. You'll also learn about Portland's old-timey coven of corruption, The Bourbon and Ham Club.


For photos and sources for today’s episode, check out the Murder in the Rain Episode Blog.




Various 1950s pinball machines photos from Twitter, TopFoto, Offbeatoregon



"Big Jim" Elkins photos from Offbeatoregon, Oregon Historical Society

Photo from Offbeatoregon

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Trouble in River City: An Analysis of an Urban Vice Probe | “BIG JIM” ELKINS | GANGSTERS, UNIONS AND PINBALL | District Attorney Close to Gambler Group | Control of Pinball Trade by Teamsters Seen | Subp[o]ena Brings Elkins Into Jury Investigation | Teamster Chiefs Build Political Machinery | Mayor Refuses Offer of Teamster Paid Manager… | Elkins-Langley-Crosby Amity, Rift Traced | Business and Politics Bring Trio Together | Attempt Bared to 'Use' Grand Jury, Governor | Top Teamster Seeks Police Chief Ouster | Jim Elkins(criminal) - Wikipedia | Bizarre Portland vice scandal in 1950s riveted nation -- but did it lead to city becoming 'progressive'? | Portland on the Take | Organizing Portland Organized Crime, Municipal Corruption, and the Teamsters Union | 3 Judgeship Contests Held in Balloting | James Butler Elkins|Find a Grave | The Death of "Big Jim" Elkins | Seattle Crime Family - Wikipedia | Racketeers, corrupt union men battled over pinball|Offbeat Oregon | The Multnomah County Courthouse | Testimony about Frank Colacurcio Sr. during 1950s U.S. Senate hearings | State of the Game | Portland underworld scandal in 1950s pitted gangsters against Hollywood | Lake Oswego poet James Fleming: Our quiet man of words | Seattle's Crime Boss: Mafia Malarkey -- Or Was It? | Mayors Lee, Schrunk set mid-century P-town tone | Legendary Organized Crime Figure Frank Colacurcio Sr. Dies | Testimony about Frank Colacurcio Sr. during 1950s U.S. Senate hearings | Portland Exposé - Tubi | Portland Exposé 1957 - IMDB | Wallace Turner, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Reporter, Is Dead at 89 | William Lambert, 78, Writer Who Exposed Justice Fortas | Portland crime conspiracy exposed by The Oregonian | Recording of Talk on Vice Deal Printed | Wallace Turner and William Lambert of Portland Oregonian - The Pulitzer Prizes | Dorothy McCullough Lee - Wikipedia | Portland collection, 1849-1998 - Archives West | Shanghaiing in Portland and the Shanghai Tunnels Myth | Secret tunnels, not-so-secret gambling, great food: Old Town Chinatown pics | The original floating bordello of 1880s Portland | Bordello madam a real-life Brigid O’Shaughnessy | FBI Portland History | Portland's Laboring Class | Learning about Civil War Card Game Faro | Gold! | Notorious - Friends of Lone Fir Cemetery | Portland gloried in its sexy, secret gambling dens in the 1930s | Fat Bottom Girl | Faro - Card Game of the Southwest | The game of Faro was a crooked gambler’s dream | Why Slabtown? | The Secrets of Cheating | Arlington Club | HISTORY OF PATENT MEDICINE | Origin of Patent Medicines | Quack Cures and Self-Remedies: Patent Medicine | The Pure Food and Drug Act | America Treated Addiction as Medical Problem – Until People of Color Were Addicted | That Time America Outlawed Pinball | What are Bingo machines? | The Jungle | Oregon History: Chronological Events - 1543-1850 | The life and death of a P-town gangster and moll | Harrison Narcotics Tax Act, 1914 | Preventing and Treating Narcotic Addiction — A Century of Federal Drug Control | The Drug Terror | ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO, PROHIBITION BEGAN IN EARNEST—AND WE’RE STILL PAYING FOR IT | James H. Lappeus | The Hounds 1849 | DEA - The Early Years | The Wild History of the Beloved Addams Family Pinball Machine | INVESTIGATIONS: The Teamsters Take Over | 11 Things You Didn't Know About Pinball History | Pinball! - Old Portland Hardware & Architectural | Fred Peterson (1896-1985) | https://publichistorypdx.org/2017/03/12/big-jim-elkins-gangsters-unions-pinball/



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