Beyond Steel

One could argue that the city was solidly behind Pfeifle. After all, it had elected him. And now as he set out to fulfill his campaign promises, favorable articles appeared in the Globe-Times. Yet, perhaps the paper did not allow all voices a chance to speak. In addition to the cynics who voiced their concerns in the 9 January article, one can assume that many working class ethnics, middle class fun-seekers, and Lehigh University students, themselves the patrons of speakeasies, gambling dens, and brothels, had little good to say about Pfeifle's initiative. But like Pfeifle's supporters, opponents quickly learned that times had indeed changed. The new superintendent compiled a list of 215 speakeasies, thirty-five bawdy houses, and forty "harborers of slot machines" and quickly moved against them.[27]

In early February, the Globe-Times released a rosy police report of their January activities. Pfeifle and Trafford had a cause for celebration. They fought the vice on the South Side and according to their figures, they were winning.

...no less than 175 speakeasies and 26 bawdy houses were put out of business; 68 prostitutes were driven out of the city together with 8 of the type of male vampires that live on the dishonor of women. There were 95 "night life" visitors from New York and New Jersey reprimanded and advised not to return to the city save on legitimate business. Two hundred and twenty-five gallons of moonshine liquor was confiscated and destroyed; 25 stills were also seized and rendered useless.

In the opinion of many people, Pfeifle had done the impossible by cleaning out entrenched vice. In doing so, he encountered death threats, rejected bribery attempts, and refused to succumb to the intimidation of the gangsters he was chasing out.[28]

The raids continued throughout the spring of 1930, but Pfeifle and Trafford had done the lion's share of the work in the short weeks after they took office. The new administration had made its point and almost overnight had changed the nature of the South Side. There is no evidence that Pfeifle targeted ethnic clubs or social clubs, so some alcohol was probably still available in the city. But he did shut down the more flagrant speakeasies. More importantly, he chased the proprietors of the red light district out of town and police collected and smashed all the slot machines they could find.

By January 1931, the Mayor was ready to release the figures of his success in ridding Bethlehem of its criminals: the prostitutes, the gamblers, and the bootleggers. First of all, Pfeifle took credit for ending Yeakle's fining mill. In 1929, police arrested 2,100 people and collected $25,051.50. Under Pfeifle in 1930, police arrested 5,000 people and collected only $11,500. But the new department went much farther than simply cleaning up its own activities. Police arrested thirty-nine for conducting bawdy houses, 190 as inmates of bawdy houses, twenty-eight for conducting disorderly houses, and fifty as inmates of disorderly houses.[29]

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