Synopses & Reviews
It may come as a shock to anyone who regards Portland as a haven for enlightened progressive thought, with light rail and lattes. But not too long ago in fact, as recently as the 1950s Portland was known throughout the country as a Mecca of vice and sin.
From the wildly popular Portland Tribune columnist comes Portland Confidential: Sex Crime, and Corruption in the Rose City. For decades, Portland had been known as a wide-open town where prostitution, gambling, and drug running were common occurrences. By the 1950s, an opportunistic conman named Big Jim Elkins had taken over the vice industry in Portland and had most of the police brass and local politicos on his payroll.
This entertaining and fascinating story includes characters such as Al Winter, former Portland mob boss who moved on to Las Vegas to open the Sahara Casino; Bill Langley, the Multnomah County district attorney who was caught on tape planning to divvy up payoffs with Seattle mobsters; "Diamond Jim" Purcell, chief of detectives in Portland who helped cover up many of Big Jim's crimes; and Dorothy McCullough "No Sin" Lee who was elected Portland's first woman mayor in 1949 and who vowed to clean up the city. Even a young Bobby Kennedy figures in the story when, in 1957, he gathered up Portland's most notorious characters and brought them back to Washington, D.C., to appear live on television in front of the Senate Rackets committee.
"Phil Stanford's little bit of Portland noir, Portland Confidential, lays it out in all its gritty glory, rattling skeletons in the city's many musty closets....[Stanford] simply preserves some fantastic tales of a very different Portland." The Seattle Times
"Stanford obviously loves this stuff, and he recounts the rise and fall of 'Big' Jim Elkins, the era's premier crime boss, with a street-smart sneer. The zing and zip of the narrative make this a fast read." Willamette Week
From a Portland Tribune columnist comes Portland Confidential, the story of Big Jim Elkins, a conman and criminal who arrived in Portland in 1937 and helped unleash prostitution, bootlegging, gambling, and drug running.
About the Author
Phil Stanford has been published in a number of national publications, including the New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, Reader's Digest, and Parade. He writes a regular column for the Portland Tribune and is currently at work on a screenplay about his adventures as a private eye in Miami.
Table of Contents
Portland's Biggest Dirty Little Secret 9
1. No Money Changed Hands 13
2. Openly and Notoriously 24
3. The Big Payoff 43
4. Business As Usual With a Difference 62
5. Politics and the Pinball Wars 91
6. Burning Issues of the Day 115
7. The Brewing Storm 133
8. The Story Breaks 141
9. The Aftermath 175
Photo Credits 190