Beyond Steel

Police had targeted other areas of vice as well, arresting forty-one as inmates of gambling houses. For the first time since prohibition started, Bethlehem police had arrested bootleggers in earnest. Police arrested 214 for violating liquor laws, one for moving a still, and seven for transporting liquor. Through a massive campaign of warnings, raids, arrests, and trials, Pfeifle's new police department managed to do what many thought was impossible. Pfeifle closed 241 speakeasies and thirty-nine bawdy houses. Police ordered sixty-eight prostitutes out of Bethlehem and arrested 190 prostitutes over the year. Police also ordered a total of 105 New York and New Jersey "night life visitors" out of the city and told them not to return, denying pimps and prostitutes their loyal clientele.[30]

The new administration persecuted vice with destructive force, literally. Police captured and destroyed 2,902 gallons of moonshine, 105 gallons of gin, 159 barrels of mash, and fifty-two slot machines, punch boards, or other gambling devices. Police also held 1,000 gallons of whiskey at police headquarters. In all, police made 355 raids in 1930, nearly one per day.[31] What Col. Wynne, leader of federal agents, had said about local enforcement was true after all. Local police could clear their towns of alcohol and vice with the political will to do so.

Ironically, Pfeifle's success dried up Bethlehem for a whole two years before a Democratic presidential candidate would add prohibition repeal to his platform. And Pfeifle's successful housecleaning of Bethlehem did not keep any North or South Side residents from driving or walking just outside the city limits where beer, whiskey, and wine still flowed freely. Pfeifle's election and subsequent success at enforcing prohibition does not prove that Bethlehem changed in relationship to the rest of the wet Lehigh Valley. It does signify that the wet residents of Bethlehem's South Side would not tolerate the uncontrolled violence that came to the city during Yeakle's incompetent and corrupt administration.

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