About Portland’s Pinball Racketeers & The FBI’s Most Wanted
Presented by Finn John, historian & author
If you were a fan of the classic ABC television sitcom “Happy Days,” you know The Fonz had a special relationship with two particular machines: His trusty ’49 Triumph motorcycle, and the pinball machine in Al’s diner. But it may surprise you to know that when Fonzie was playing that pinball machine, in 1950s Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he was breaking the law — and so was Al, by having the machine in his restaurant.
Though it is a bit hard for younger Oregonians to believe, just a few dozen years ago pinball was illegal in most large American cities — including Portland. And that meant supplying pinball machines to restaurants like Al’s Diner was a job for organized-crime outlaws … like the Pinball Racketeers.
In this presentation, we’ll explore Portland’s Pinball Wars, then touch on a few other especially interesting stories of post-WWII criminal activity — including the FBI’s successful quest to lay hands on a mild-mannered drywall contractor who turned out to be hiding a shocking secret, and a former small-town police chief turned murderer.
About the Speaker:
Finn J.D. John is the author of the weekly “Offbeat Oregon History” syndicated newspaper column, published in several dozen community newspapers since 2008. A Corvallis resident, he teaches New Media Communications at Oregon State University and is the Principal Creative at Pulp-Lit Productions, a publishing house specializing in book and audiobook collections of classic pre-war pulp-fiction stories.
5 pm doors, 6:30 pm event
Free. First come, first served. Arrive early!
All ages welcome
About Wilsonville Old Church History Pub
These monthly, free events are open to everyone interested in Oregon and Pacific Northwest history. Co-sponsored by like-minded historical and civic organizations, we bring you experts, scholars, first-person experiencers and historians who expound on topics from Lewis and Clark to shipwrecks, hop growing to women pioneers and far, far beyond. It’s like being back in the classroom – except this time you get to settle into comfortable seats and enjoy a drink or two with dinner while you listen and learn.
This event is eligible for a History Pub Stamp
Source: McMenamins Pub History.Aug 2019.