Homepage of "Mr. Lincoln, Route 66, & Other
Highlights of Lincoln, IL"
A Long-Range Plan to Brand the First Lincoln
Namesake City as the Second City of Abraham Lincoln Statues
Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration in Lincoln, Illinois
Abraham Lincoln and the Historic Postville
including a William Maxwell connection to the Postville Courthouse
About Henry Ford and the Postville Courthouse,
the Story of the Postville Courthouse Replica,
Tantivy, & the Postville Park
Neighborhood in the
Route 66 Era
The Rise of Abraham Lincoln and His History and
Heritage in His First Namesake Town,
also the founding of Lincoln College, the plot to steal Lincoln's
body, and memories of Lincoln College and the Rustic Tavern-Inn
Introduction to the Social & Economic History of
including poetry by William Childress & commentary by Federal Judge
Bob Goebel & Illinois Appellate Court Judge Jim Knecht
"Social Consciousness in William Maxwell's
Writings Based on Lincoln, Illinois" (an article published in the
Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, winter 2005-06)
Peeking Behind the Wizard's Screen: William
Maxwell's Literary Art as Revealed by a Study of the Black Characters in
Billie Dyer and Other Stories
Introduction to the Railroad & Route 66 Heritage
of Lincoln, Illinois
The Living Railroad Heritage of Lincoln, Illinois:
on Track as a Symbol of the "Usable Past"
Route 66 Overview Map of Lincoln with 42 Sites,
Descriptions, & Photos
The Hensons of Business Route 66
The Wilsons of Business
Route 66, including the Wilson Grocery & Shell
Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Lincoln Memorial
(former Chautauqua site),
the Historic Cemeteries, & Nearby Sites
Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Salt Creek &
the highway bridges, GM&O bridge, Madigan State Park, the old dam (with
photos & Leigh's memoir of "shooting the rapids" over the old dam), &
the Ernie Edwards' Pig-Hip Restaurant Museum in Broadwell
The Historic Logan County Courthouse, Past &
Route 66 Map with 51 Sites in the Business &
Courthouse Square Historic District,
including locations of historical markers
(on the National Register of Historic Places)
Vintage Scenes of the Business & Courthouse Square
The Foley House: A
Monument to Civic Leadership
(on the National Register of
the Route 66 Era
Arts & Entertainment Heritage,
the Lincoln Theatre Roy Rogers' Riders Club of the
Cars, Trucks & Gas Stations of the Route 66 Era
Churches, including the hometown
churches of Author William Maxwell & Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr
Factories, Past and Present
Food Stores of
the Route 66 Era
Hospitals, Past and Present
Hotels & Restaurants of the Railroad & Route 66
Lincoln Developmental Center
(Lincoln State School & Colony in
the Route 66 era), plus
debunking the myth of
Lincoln, Illinois, choosing the Asylum over the University of Illinois
Mining Coal, Limestone, & Sand & Gravel; Lincoln Lakes; & Utilities
Museums & Parks, including the Lincoln College
Museum and its Abraham Lincoln Collection, plus the Heritage-in-Flight
News Media in the Route 66 Era
The Odd Fellows' Children's Home
Memories of the 1900 Lincoln Community High School,
including Fred Blanford's dramatic account of the lost marble
fountain of youth
A Tribute to the Historians and Advocates of
Watering Holes of the Route 66 Era
The Historic 1953 Centennial Celebration of
The Festive 2003 Sesqui-centennial Celebration of
Lincoln, Illinois, including photos of LCHS Class of 1960
dignitaries & the Blanfords
Why Did the State Police Raid Lincoln, Illinois,
on October 11, 1950?
The Gambling Raids in Lincoln and Logan County,
During the Late Route 66 Era (1950-1960)
in this section tell about Leigh Henson's Lincoln years, moving away,
revisits, and career:
About Lincoln, Illinois;
This Web Site; & Me
A Tribute to Lincolnite Edward Darold
Henson: World War II U.S. Army Veteran of the Battles for Normandy and
the Hedgerows; Brittany and Brest; and the Ardennes (Battle of the
For Remembrance, Understanding, & Fun: Lincoln
Community High School Mid-20th-Century Alums' Internet Community
(a Web site and
email exchange devoted to collaborative memoir and the sharing of photos
related to Lincoln, Illinois)
Leigh Henson's Pilgrimage to Lincoln, Illinois, on
July 12, 2001
Review of Dr. Burkhardt's William Maxwell Biography
Leigh Henson's Review of Ernie Edwards' biography,
Pig-Hips on Route 66, by William Kaszynski
Leigh Henson's Review of Jan Schumacher's
Glimpses of Lincoln, Illinois
Teach Local Authors: Considering the Literature of
Web Site About
Leigh Henson's Professional Life
in this section are about the writing, memorabilia, and Web sites of
A Tribute to Bill and Phyllis Stigall:
Exemplary Faculty of Lincoln College at Mid-Twentieth Century
A Tribute to the Krotzes of Lincoln, Illinois
A Tribute to Robert Wilson (LCHS '46): Author of
Young in Illinois, Movies Editor of December Magazine,
Friend and Colleague of December Press Publisher Curt Johnson, and
Correspondent with William Maxwell
Brad Dye (LCHS '60): His Lincoln, Illinois, Web
including photos of many churches
Dave Armbrust's Memorabilia of Lincoln, Illinois
Fikuarts of Lincoln, Illinois, including their
connections to the William Maxwell family and three generations of
family fun at Lincoln Lakes
Jerry Gibson (LCHS '60): Lincoln, Illinois,
Memoirs & Other Stories
Dave Johnson (LCHS '56): His Web Site for the
Lincoln Community High School Class of 1956
Sportswriter David Kindred: Memoir of His
Grandmother Lena & Her West Side Tavern on Sangamon Street in the Route
Judge Jim Knecht
(LCHS '62): Memoir and Short Story, "Other People's Money," Set in
Hickey's Billiards on Chicago Street in the Route 66 Era
William A. "Bill" Krueger (LCHS '52): Information
for His Books About Murders in Lincoln
Norm Schroeder (LCHS '60): Short Stories
Stan Stringer Writes About His Family, Mark
Holland, and Lincoln, Illinois
Thomas Walsh: Anecdotes Relating to This Legendary
Attorney from Lincoln by Attorney Fred Blanford & Judge Jim Knecht
Leon Zeter (LCHS '53): His Web Site for the
Lincoln Community High School Class of 1953,
including announcements of LCHS class reunions
(Post yours there.)
Highway Sign of
The Route 66
Association of Illinois
State Historical Society
Marquee Lights of the Lincoln Theatre, est. 1923, Lincoln, Illinois
Illinois Governor Adlai E. Stevenson's 1950 Crackdown on Gambling
"Stevenson . . . has touched no political, economic, or moral subject on
which he has not taken a clear and open stand even to the point of bearding
selfish groups to their faces" [opposing them face to face].
1962 Nobel Laureate John Steinbeck, Preface to Speeches of Stevenson
"I just stumbled across your site by accident looking for
another copy of my book about Stevenson [Adlai: The Springfield Years]
and was delighted to get up to date on so much. I must say, you did a remarkable
and I was fascinated. Congratulations on such an accurate and revealing
piece of work!" --unsolicited testimonial from Journalist-Author Pat
Harris (email to Leigh Henson, 2-11-06).
39.1: Source: Illinois Blue Book
1959-1960, p. 1.
Like many of my contemporaries who grew up in Lincoln, Illinois, during the
1940s and 1950s, I vaguely remember hearing about the gambling raids there,
and a desire to learn more about these raids and my hometown prompted me to
research and develop this Web page-chapter to tell the story of Governor
Adlai E. Stevenson's
crackdown on illegal gambling. This page can stand alone, but also is
intended to provide background and context for a separate Web page on
Gambling Raids in Lincoln and Logan County, Illinois,
During the Late Route 66 Era (1950-1960).
During a sabbatical leave in the fall of 2003, I researched several subjects,
including the gambling raids, and conducted some of this research in Meyer Library of
Missouri State University. All of this research was done to
explore ways of using English studies for public service in support of the
University's public affairs mission: specifically, to advance our knowledge
of American social history and culture.
presenting information in 2003-04 about how Stevenson dealt with the gambling problem,
I faced two choices: either develop a Web page or write an article for
submission to an academic, refereed journal. I chose the Web page for these
this final stage of my career I do not
need to build my resume (curriculum vitae, or cv) with another academic
article and because an academic article would have required deeper research
and taken a lot more time (e.g., time to find such primary source material as
letters and government documents buried in archives and vertical files of distant libraries);
I wanted to tell the main
story and reach a greater audience than the small readership of a scholarly
journal and because I wanted to add pages to expand my community history Web
site of Lincoln, Illinois, as a "distance" public service;
A Web page allows more
extensive use of photos and such informal material as memoir and minor
digressions. The enrichment of this
informal material adds the appeal of "human interest" that the constraints
of formal scholarship do not often allow;
A Web page is a lot more
fun and rewarding than writing an article for academic publication--a Web
page sometimes prompts reader response. A journal article almost never does.
Plus, trying to get published in an academic journal is always a crapshoot
In doing this page and
the entire community history Web site of Lincoln, Illinois, I confess I am
trying to deflate the myth that we academic types only offer knowledge that
is uninteresting and useless to the general public (that we only "pile
higher and deeper"). Here, I have tried
to "pile higher and dearer."
Adlai Ewing Stevenson (1900-1965)
earned a substantial place in American and world history for his roles as
the two-time Democratic candidate for President (1952 and 1956) and as the
United States Ambassador to the United Nations (1961-1965). His
effectiveness as a one-term reform Governor of Illinois (1948-1952)
attracted the attention of the Democratic Party, which convinced him to be
its candidate against Dwight Eisenhower in 1952. One of Stevenson's most
dramatic and controversial initiatives in promoting "good government" in
Illinois was his crackdown on illegal gambling. Beginning in May of 1950,
Stevenson ordered the Illinois State Police to conduct gambling raids
throughout Illinois, and these raids continued beyond 1950. Following raids
in southern Illinois and northern Illinois, raids were conducted in central
Illinois, including Logan County and its county seat of Lincoln, on October
Other pages in
this Web site present additional information about gambling and good
government in Lincoln during the 1950s. Links to those pages appear in the
Sources Cited at the bottom of this page.
Topics presented in this chapter/page are
principled public service in the Lincoln tradition,
to Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson's crackdown on gambling,
• Stevenson's reform of the
Illinois State Police and anti-gambling legislation,
Sidebar: Remembering Harry Dial, Illinois
Republican Ex-State Police Officer from Lincoln,
decision to use the State Police to attack gambling,
• The Illinois State Police
gambling raids of May--October, 1950,
final word on gambling (1952).
Stevenson's Principled Public Service in the Lincoln Tradition
As a native son of Illinois, Stevenson showed much interest
in its history and Abraham Lincoln in particular. Adlai Stevenson's maternal
great-grandfather, Jesse W. Fell, was the founder of Illinois State [Normal]
University in 1857, and Fell had been a key player in arranging for
the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates. Fell also was a friend and supporter of Abraham Lincoln
in the 1860 Presidential campaign. Thus, by family history, Adlai Stevenson
had been introduced to Abraham Lincoln.
Historian Kenneth S. Davis describes Stevenson's fascination with Lincoln
and Illinois history:
"Public views of Stevenson as one who moved and had his being in the Lincoln
tradition were enhanced by the Governor's obvious love affair with Illinois
history. One of his earliest acts was to establish direct and well-used
lines of communication between his office and the Illinois State Historical
Library, whose head, State Historian Jay Monaghan, was the author of widely
read books on Lincoln and Illinois history. From the library he obtained a
carefully selected group of books for his office shelves and oil paintings
by Illinois artists to hang on the mansion walls.
Out-of-town visitors to the
mansion were almost invariably taken, either by the Governor himself or by
an appointed guide, to reconstructed New Salem, to Lincoln's tomb, to the
house on the corner of Market and Eighth--and these visitors spread abroad
tales of the Governor's total immersion in Lincolniana and of his fondness
for the company of such famed Lincoln scholars Monaghan, Benjamin Thomas,
then at work on his classic one-volute biography of Lincoln, and Carl
Sandburg" (Davis, The Politics of Honor, p. 200).
Note: Apparently when Stevenson spoke on certain occasions relating
to Illinois history, he had Lincoln Biographer Benjamin Thomas ghost write
speeches. The Papers of Adlai Stevenson, vol. 3, includes the text of
at least three "thank you" letters that Stevenson sent to Thomas for
ghost-written speeches, including a speech to the prestigious Chicago
Historical Society on November 19, 1950, which Stevenson said brought
"reverberating applause" (pp. 313, 316, 320, 482).
Stevenson with Abraham Lincoln Autobiography Written at the Request of Jesse
(Photo from Noel F. Busch, Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois: A Portrait, p. 28.
The caption reads, "Governor
Stevenson inspects framed copy of three-page autobiography written by
Abraham Lincoln at the request of Jesse W. Fell. Original manuscript, given
to Fell, is now in the Library of Congress.")
As a student of Lincoln,
Stevenson understood that morality was at the core of Lincoln's view of
public service. In Lincoln's time, slavery, of course, was the burning
issue, and it brought Lincoln out of political retirement in 1854. Among
Lincoln's most famous speeches framing his views on the slavery problem was
the speech that led to his Republican party nomination--the speech at
Cooper's Union, New York (February 27, 1860). In this speech Lincoln
exhorted his audience to act on slavery as a moral
issue: "Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith
let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it" (bold mine;
quoted from Benjamin Thomas, Abraham Lincoln: A Biography, p. 204).
Stevenson's desire for
reform and good government clearly reflects his view of public service as a
moral endeavor. As a result of this view, Stevenson was committed to act
against gambling because of the corruption it caused (but as indicated
below, he needed a little prodding).
39.3: Adlai E. Stevenson as Governor
in the Illinois Blue Book 1949-50, p. 45.)
Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson's Crackdown on Gambling
From the beginning of the twentieth century, gambling was illegal in
Illinois, but it flourished there through the activities of organized crime.
Nationally the Chicago Syndicate ran the use of the telegraph to transmit
racing news. The Chicago gangsters also dominated the numbers racket. "They
corrupted politicians and law enforcement officers. They contributed to the
campaigns of politicians of both parties" (Martin, p. 443).
As John Bartlow Martin explains, gambling was at the center of the growing
"About 1944 the Chicago Syndicate made an alliance with a gang
in the East St. Louis area for the purpose of extending its empire
throughout the state, particularly its gambling network. Downstate gambling
had been dominated by the Shelton gang. In many counties it had
run wide open; the gamblers paid off the local law enforcement officials.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch had criticized Governor Green harshly for
permitting it [previously Green had been the States Attorney who had
successfully prosecuted Al Capone]. The collision of forces between the Chicago-East St. Louis
gangs and the Shelton gang had produced the murder at Peoria of Bernie
Shelton at the height of the 1948 political campaign. That murder had led
to the disclosure of wide-open gambling, links between downstate politicians
and gamblers, links between gamblers and Governor Green's state police, and
the indictment, later dismissed, of a Post-Dispatch reporter by a
supporter of Green" (p. 443). In Springfield during Green's
administration, gambling--including roulette-- "had been wide open at the
Lake Club, a night club. . . frequented by legislators" (Martin, p. 444).
Central Illinois Journalist Bill Monson
"In 1944, Dwight Green narrowly won re-election as Governor. Some say it was
contributions from gangsters which helped him over the top. By this time,
one-third of Illinois counties (including Knox County) had gambling of some
Peoria also had prostitution, which shamed some citizens so badly that they
managed to elect a reform mayor, Carl O. Triebel, in 1945. The Sheltons
tried to buy him off but couldn’t. Carl Shelton decided to retire to his
farm in Wayne County and left Bernie in charge (Earl had never been much
involved in the Peoria operation, preferring to operate from his home
territory in Fairfield.) With the end of the war, Peoria became tamer; but
there was still gambling, and Bernie got most of the take. Then the Sheltons’
enemies began to make their moves. In October 1947, Carl was shot to death
in an ambush near his farm. In July 1948, Bernie was cut down by a sniper’s
rifle outside his headquarters in Peoria
[Leigh's note: I have seen the site of the slaying; it was in front
of a tavern on Farmington Road near Bradley Park].
Their deaths had two results. There was a shakeup in gang operation
throughout Illinois and a media frenzy about corruption which extended all
the way to the governor’s office.
Green ran for a third term in 1948 and was expected to benefit from
popular Republican Thomas Dewey’s campaign for the Presidency. But the
media fallout from Peoria led to statewide investigations which connected
Green and Attorney General George Barrett with corruption"
some prolonged soul searching, Stevenson became the Democratic candidate
for Governor. He set out to campaign
"in the name of non partisan efficiency--for good men
who might not be Democrats in state office, for a new constitution that
might not protect the organization, and for the civil service cloture
[closure] of patronage jobs that formerly bound the 'shock troops' to the
Democratic party . . . ."
"Stevenson's campaign for the governorship began in the dark and cold and
snow of an Illinois winter, with his chances as dismal as the weather. By
spring when the planting began and the long horizons held a mist of color,
and he had received a good turnout in the uncontested primary, his chances
for elections had improved. The Republican incumbent, Dwight Green, felt
it necessary to shorten his Florida vacation to respond to Stevenson. By
summer when a withering hot dry spell set in and the bookies in Mason
County, in central Illinois, were giving seven-to-five odds on Green, the
two candidates were providing Illinois voters, as is the way of American
politics, mirror images of themselves and their concerns. With tireless
public ebullience, the bald-pated, rumpled, self-proclaimed amateur in
Brooks Brothers button-down shirts talked and talked, worried about
contributions, and sometimes helped install the red, white, and blue
Stevenson banners at the county fairs and courthouse squares where he
spoke. 'Four counties a day is a fine education,' he informed Alicia
Patterson in September, 'but I don't recommend it for human beings.'
Unknown to most Illinoisians, who had forgotten his
family, Stevenson squirmed when after his calls for better government the
first question was how to pronounce his first name. In Lincoln, a small
town in central Illinois, he spoke of ending corruption and especially
gambling, before an audience
[at the Logan County Fair] that could not hear him
for the shouts from the racetrack in the background"
(emphasis mine; Baker, Chapter 1).
Through his vigorous campaigning, Stevenson
had successfully reached a public interested in reforming government
because of the corruption that stemmed from gambling:
"Voter anger in Illinois was reflected in the fall
election. Green lost to underdog Adlai Stevenson by over half a million
39.4: Defeated Governor Dwight Green Meets
(Photo from Patricia Harris, Adlai: The Illinois Years. Stevenson
appears to grimace in contempt.)
Stevenson's Reform of the Illinois
State Police and Anti-Gambling Legislation
1948 gubernatorial campaign, Stevenson denounced gambling and corruption,
and that position attracted the support of groups who wanted reform that
would achieve "good government." The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote
that Stevenson won a landslide victory because of his commitment to reform
government (5-13-50, p. 3).
first year as governor (1949), Stevenson took action to reform the corrupt State
Police force. It had been established in 1923 with 100 officers and was gradually expanded to 500
in 1945 (Illinois Blue Book 1949-50, p. 526).
"Sponsored by Governor
Adlai E. Stevenson, legislation was passed by the 66th Illinois Legislature
removing the Illinois State Police from politics, establishing tenure of
office for members of the force and permitting reorganization of the
division to an efficient, stream-lined policing unit. Under the new
legislation, a non-partisan merit board was created, charged with the
responsibility of selecting qualified candidates for appointment to the
state police. The new law requires that by January 1, 1951, the police
division shall be equally composed of members affiliated with the two major
political parties. After that date, politics will play no part in the
selection of candidates for police work. The new legislation assures members
of the State Police division of tenure in office by providing that no
members may be discharged, or demoted, except upon proper charges brought
and substantiated in a hearing before the non-partisan merit board" (Illinois
Blue Book 1949-50, p.527).
step involved replacing about half of the Republican State Police with
officers belonging to the Democratic Party, but complete reforming would take time. In
August of 1950, at the height of the gambling raids, five State Police were
charged with theft of $150 from slot machines confiscated during a raid in
Cairo, Illinois. The accused officers were suspended immediately, and Acting Chief
Thomas J. O'Donnell asked the State Police Merit Board to fire them (St. Louis
Post-Dispatch, 8-3-1950, 3A).
not only reorganized the State Police, but also advanced the use of
technology for better law enforcement. "The decision to utilize the aircraft
for state police assignments was reached by Governor Stevenson on
recommendations of the Directors of both the Aeronautics and Public Safety
Departments" (Illinois Blue Book, 1951-52, p. 461). There is,
however, no indication that air-to-ground communication was used during the
1950 gambling raids. Typically the State Police on those raids did not use
radio communication as a security measure. The State Police thus prevented
gamblers from monitoring their radio transmissions and gaining advanced warning that
a raid convoy was on the move.
39.5: Illinois Officials
Confer on the Coordination of Air-Ground Law Enforcement
(Photo from the Illinois Blue
Book 1951-52, p. 461)
Stevenson's early efforts to attack gambling through legislation met with
defeat. "When Congress passed a law forbidding the shipment of slot machines
in interstate commerce, Stevenson proposed a law prohibiting their
manufacture in Illinois where, as a matter of fact, practically all slot
machines were made. The legislature said no. He also proposed to strengthen
the powers of the Liquor Control Commission, to halt gambling wherever
liquor was sold. Again the legislature said no" (Kenneth Davis, pp.
234-235). Stevenson, however, made significant progress "by increasing
administrative efficiency and eliminating waste" (Davis, p. 235).
Dial, Illinois Republican Ex-State Policeman from Lincoln
below is Harry Dial (left), an Illinois ex-State Police officer, who was a
Republican from Lincoln, Illinois. I speculate that he was a casualty of
Stevenson's strategy of replacing Republican state policemen with Democrat new hires. In the early 1950s, Mr. Dial and "Putz" Jones,
another Republican ex-State Policeman, owned and operated Dial and Jones's
Texaco gas station on Business Route 66 in Lincoln at the corner of Fifth
and Union Streets. Later in the 1950s and 1960s, Dial was the sole owner and
39.6: Illinois Ex-State
Police Officer Harry Dial (left) Accepts Trophy from George Harford for
Winning the Civilian Pistol Match Sponsored by the Logan County Shooters
Rifle and Pistol Club
Photo from the Lincoln Evening Courier,
11-16-54, p. 4. Image is poor due to scan of microfilm printout.
Mr. Dial's picture above shows him
in his Texaco uniform, which he wore proudly. I always suspected that he
liked it because it reminded him of his State Police uniform. I never
suspected, however, that any uniform ever went to his head. He never
expressed any "big me, little you" attitude, but I do recall he happily told
the story of once humbling "Squire [Thomas] Scully"--the largest landowner
in Logan County and thus its wealthiest--by pulling him over for some minor
traffic violation on Route 66.
kindly allowed countless young men in Lincoln to make this Texaco station
their second home--including Gerry Dehner, who grew up to become a Logan
County Republican Circuit Court judge; Robert Madigan, who grew up to
become an Illinois Republican State senator; and James "Jim" Knecht, who
grew up to become an Illinois Appellate Court justice. At his station Dial
allowed his young charges to wash their cars, borrow tools, watch TV, and play catch
on the drive. Mr. Dial's gruff exterior concealed his heart of gold. He let his place of business be used as a hangout for teen
guys even though this benevolence must have cut into his bottom line: no one
knows how many old ladies decided to "trade" elsewhere because of the
un-business-like, menacing appearance created by this semi-harmless collective
socializing. Dial's Texaco station had a $.25-cigarette machine, a Coke
machine, but no gambling machines.
station also became the informal Logan County Republican Headquarters. Local
GOP leaders crossed paths there almost daily, including Logan County
Committee Chairman Joe Sapp, who became the unofficial "right hand man" of
Republican Governor William G. Stratton in the 1960s. Mr. Sapp gassed up at
Dial's before driving to Springfield almost daily. When my father was young,
Mr. Sapp had been his baseball mentor. In my own youth, Mr. Sapp used his
political connections to obtain two minor patronage jobs for me: one with
the Department of Conservation in the summer of 1960 in which I worked on
the game farm on the NW
corner of the Illinois State Fairgrounds--site of the new DNR Headquarters.
My other political patronage job was with the Department of Public Welfare in the summer of 1963 (Lincoln
page on the 1950 gambling raids in Lincoln, Illinois will show that gambling
devices remained in Lincoln as late as 1960. As one of the guys who hung out
at Dial's in the1950s, I can testify that this gas station was free of
punchboards, and there were no slot machines in the back room. The most
harmful device in the station was a cigarette machine. Mr. Dial had no
children of his own, so perhaps he considered all of us his sons.
In the later years of this socializing, Dial's gang
bought him a new telephone and some other office equipment to express its appreciation
for his friendship. Around 1960 we secretly bought him a new desk and office
chair (Jim Thudium got us a good deal through his parents'
Lincoln Office Supply). While Dial was at dinner, the new
furniture was installed, and the old pieces were placed on the big curb
out front, chair stacked on top of the desk. We had the hired man,
Wayne Charron, call Dial to tell him he had better come down to the
station right away as there was trouble. Harry, arriving, seeing the
furniture, and knowing his
office had been "vandalized," pulled onto the middle of the
drive in his old blue pickup truck, stopped, got out, and entered his station
with a very red, angry face. Then, amazed, he saw his new office,
and Pete Ross asked him, "Now that you like 'em, do you want to
buy 'em?" Mr. Dial then unlocked the Coke machine so we could help
August, 2013: Jim Knecht wrote: "Leigh, I would add
to your account with my memory—an imperfect tool. I remember Harry arriving
in a white over yellow Buick 2 door--nice car. And I think Ron Castor was
either sitting on or just gotten off the desk and chair that were stacked at
the corner of 5th and Union.
When Harry left work, he would go home, bathe, shave, put on what today
would be a 1950/60 version of business casual and take His mother to
dinner—so he arrived not only red-faced but in pristine attire having either
dinner or the pick- up of his mother interrupted.
He was livid—then relieved—then warm and grateful. Though less of a friend
to youth, I trust you remember his early partner—another retired State
Trooper—Albert “Putts” Jones.
Cranky—profane—but with a sense of humor—though less tolerant of the
reprobates who hung out there—he was interesting and affable at times. I
remember being told he was sitting on the step outside the front door when a
local miscreant—Hooner Eckert—kept riding his bike back and forth over the
tube that rang the station bell—Putts told him to stop, he did not and Putts
reached for a full oil can, heaved it and knocked Hooner off the bike—no
serious injury but it stopped the bell-ringing.
I can remember going to then Dial & Jones in the early 50”s while walking to
Central School—meeting Fred Worth (fat Freddie who lived on 5th )
and Wally Smith and we would walk to school together. Once we were 9 or 10,
Joe Sapp would pay the three of us to pass out campaign flyers door to door
up and down 5th. Then when the State Fair arrived the following
summer, he would drive us to Springfield, drop us off at the front gate and
pick us up again. At 4 or 4:30—I think kids got free fair entry in those
days. That was an introduction to Politics—coupled with Joe’s second
headquarters, Alvey’s Drug Store. Best regards, Jim Knecht." (Leigh's note:
Justice Jim Knecht's page in this site:
Stevenson's Decision to Use the State
Police to Attack Gambling
Stevenson understood that gambling was a complicated problem. He
believed that efficient government could best be achieved through local
government wherever possible. (Note: Stevenson was a Democrat, but he
embraced de-centralized government wherever possible--a principle
traditionally associated with the Republican Party.) Stevenson also knew
that countless citizens enjoyed illegal gambling, and "he disliked the
double-standard morality of respectable citizens who denounced corruption
but played slot machines in their private clubs" (Martin, p. 444).
Stevenson well understood that any direct interference of his state
government to curtail gambling would have a backlash against him. Thus,
Stevenson's first attempt to stem the twin problems of illegal gambling and
corruption was to encourage local officials to take action: "during 1949 he
and his Attorney General, Ivan Elliott, had quietly brought pressure to bear
on local law enforcement officials. They had been only partly successful. In
some counties gambling had stopped[;] in others it had stopped for a time
then resumed, and in others it had continued unabated. Now in the spring of
1950 he began to move against the gamblers" (Martin, p. 444).
The circumstances of 1950 that led Stevenson to order Illinois State Police
raids on gambling establishments provide an interesting and important plot
twist in this story. It seems that Stevenson needed some prodding to act
against gambling, and it came in the form of two
provocative stories by Gordon Schendel that ran in Collier's magazine
in April of that year. At that time, Collier's was struggling, so its
new editor, Louis Ruppel (ex-Marine and ex-Federal narcotics investigator), was probably eager to publish controversial
material as a way to boost readership and attract more advertisers.
Curiously, Ruppel had worked for Stevenson's gubernatorial campaign, and
both men had spent time together "riding around Illinois in the summer of
1948" (Harris, p. 59). Historian Harris raises the question of Ruppel's
motive in publishing articles critical of Stevenson's handling of the gambling
problem. Specifically, she wonders whether Ruppel may have felt inadequately
paid for working on Stevenson's campaign and thus might have held a grudge
that led to the stinging criticism in the two articles (pp. 59-63).
Patricia (Milligan) Harris, a member of the press corps during Stevenson's
governorship and vice-president of the Illinois Correspondents Association,
describes the Collier's articles:
"On April 15, 1950 the new 'Ruppelized' Collier's came out with the
first of two blistering exposes on gambling in Illinois titled 'ILLINOIS
SHAKEDOWN: The Little Guys Lose.'
'. . . Governor Adlai Stevenson won the support of Republicans and Democrats
on reforms, but he has not yet delivered on gambling.'
Although most of the article zeroed in on gambling in the city of Quincy,
there were several juicy little paragraphs by the author, Gordon Schendel,
to the effect that Stevenson was reneging on his campaign promises. Schendel
quoted from some of Adlai's speeches, particularly one delivered on
Democratic day at the 1948 Illinois State Fair, in which Stevenson asserted:
'My colleagues and I are going to fumigate the statehouse or break our
hearts in the attempt!' [emphasis mine].
Stevenson also was quoted as admitting that gambling was his Number One
headache but that it was a 'local problem' to be solved by local law
(Illinois Blue Book 1950-51, p. 275)
Even more telling were quotes from Stevenson's sidekick, Attorney General
Elliott, to the effect that his powers were limited by statute and that he
could move into a county only when asked to by local authorities.
Schendel went on to say that newspapermen in Springfield were making wry
jokes about how much worse the slot machine situation would have to become
before the Governor would use his legal power to act."
Milligan-Harris continues: "I didn't know about that but from personal observation, I knew that the
slots and punchboards were in operation full blast all over middle Illinois,
as they had been since the day I moved there. I was not much of a gambler
myself, but some of the newsmen with whom I lunched played the punchboards
regularly, and one of them rolled the dice for 'double or nothing' almost
every noon (and lost). We usually ate in a narrow little place called 'The
Saddle Club,' where the beer was cold and the plate lunches adequate"
(Harris, pp. 63-64).
Patricia Milligan-Harris's above account is the fullest explanation I
could find of the role the Collier's articles must have played in
Stevenson's first gambling raid. As a trusted member of the press corps in
Stevenson's administration, she was invited to ride along during one of the gambling
raids, and I provide her account of that experience later on this page.
Stevenson's own papers show evidence that the Collier's
stories prompted him to order the State Police gambling raids. Schendel's
second Collier's article, quickly following the first, appeared on
April 22, 1950. In an undated response, Stevenson wrote,
article [note the singular of article] correctly quotes me as having
said during the campaign that I would keep the state administration free of
gambling taints. I say the same thing now, and I have done what I said.
The enforcement by local officials of the gambling laws is better now than
it has been for a long time. Had Collier's wanted the facts--and to know
what the Attorney General and I have done--its reporter could have come to
Springfield and talked with us. He didn't" (Walter Johnson and Carol Evans,
The Papers of Adlai E. Stevenson, vol. 3, p. 270).
One of many letters Stevenson received about the gambling problem was
written by Paul Simon, the young editor and publisher of the Troy
Tribune, Madison County, Illinois. Mr. Simon said: '"It seems to me your
extremely able administration should not be hindered by attacks of failing
to act in the gambling situation.' James W. Mulroy [one of Stevenson's
administrative assistants] replied to Simon's letter on May 4, saying, ". .
. I am told that Madison County is still open in some respects but I am of
the considered opinion that in a comparatively short time the better known
gambling places in your county will be closed either to action taken by your
own authorities or by some other type of action. . . . " (Johnson and Evans, p. 270).
The first State Police gambling raid targeted Madison County.
Key Players in Stevenson's Battle Against
Native Ivan A. Elliott,
IL Blue Book 1949-50, p. 56.
39.9: Paris, IL,
Native Carl McGowan, Administrative Assistant
IL Blue Book 1949-50, p. 441.
39.10: Chicago Native
Thomas J. O'Donnell, Acting
Head of the State Police
IL Blue Book 1949-50, p. 524.
The Illinois State Police Gambling Raids
of May--October, 1950
Stevenson was at first reluctant to use the State Police to fight gambling,
but the circumstances of political pressure summarized above show that later
he was quick to order the State Police on gambling raids. As indicated
above, Madison County (just east of St. Louis) was a notorious gambling
Mecca, but did Illinois
authorities have some basis other than hearsay to know which establishments
would be good targets there and in other locales?
answer is yes because government records existed for the names of
establishments where slot machines were located. These records existed
because the Federal government required sites with slot machines to pay taxes on
them. Owners of slot machines in such states as Illinois and
Missouri faced the irony that although these devices were illegal in those
states, owners had to pay Federal taxes on them. Certainly in Illinois state
officials most likely would have had access to those records: the office of
the Collector of Internal Revenue was in the state capital of Springfield.
August of 1950, just two months before the State Police raided Macon and
Logan Counties, the Internal Revenue records "show that taxes were paid on
1,402 slot machines in 355 establishments in Illinois during July. This
[was] considerably below the figures for the same month in any other recent
year. July is the beginning of the government's fiscal year." (St. Louis
Post-Dispatch, 8-3,-50, p. 3A). Each machine was taxed $100.00 (St.
Louis Post-Dispatch, 7-28-50, p.
County (and its neighboring Macon County) ranked among the counties with the highest number of machines: "The
largest concentrations of slot machines in the new list are in Madison
county, 39 machines in seven places; Macon county, 37 machines in 32 places;
Logan, 27 machines in 17 places, and Tazewell, 10 machines in eight places"
(Post-Dispatch, 8-3-50, p. 3A). As indicated later on this page, all
of these counties were targeted by Stevenson's State Police raids.
Lincolnite Dave Salyers says that the slot machines in Lincoln and Logan
County were Indian head slot machines like the one pictured below. The Web
site where I found this photo explains: "They [Indian head slots] have the
highest odds against a player. They make enough money to pay for all the
overhead cost required to run a large, modern casino. The big payoffs are
far and few, but people play the slot machines more than any other casino
Photo of Indian Head Slot
irony of having to pay taxes on illegal gambling machines puzzled their
patrons as well as their owners. In his final published statement on
gambling in 1952, Governor Stevenson writes:
don't understand how slot machines can be illegal in Illinois while the
Federal government collects a tax of $150 per year [taxes must have gone up
$50 per machine in two years] on each machine. The lawyer can explain the
difference between the gambling laws of Illinois and the revenue laws of the
United States. The average citizen, however, naturally assumes that when a
machine has been properly registered with the Collector of Internal Revenue
and the tax has been paid, the owner is entitled to use it. The owner is
indignant when gambling devices on which he has paid the Federal tax are
confiscated and destroyed under state law.
Effective law enforcement in Illinois with respect to slot machines and
similar gambling devices that are Federally taxed has been complicated by
popular misconceptions arising from this paradoxical legal treatment by two
separate governments. Moral confusions--always a problem with respect to
gambling--are intensified. And the paradox is further aggravated when
Congress taxes these machines yet prohibits their interstate shipment--which
prohibition, by the way, does no good in Illinois, where they are all made"
(Stevenson, "Who Runs the Gambling Machines, The Atlantic, 2-52, p.
source I used to identify the following series of gambling raids was the St.
Raid 1: May 12, 1950: Madison County, IL (St. Louis suburban area
in Illinois)--the 200 Club in Madison,
Illinois, and the Hyde Park Club in Venice. This raid made the front page of the
St. Louis Post-Dispatch with the blaring headline:
Police Raid East Side Casinos; Will Be Used Further, Governor Warns.
Hyde Park Club, 200 Club Closed; 3
Operators, 48 Helpers Booked."
I quote much of the
Post-Dispatch story below because it is the fullest published account of
all the raids, because it helps to explain the role of the Illinois State
Police, and because this raid was apparently typical of the procedures used
in the other raids.
Adlai E. Stevenson served notice today that state police will be used to
suppress gambling in Illinois communities where local authorities fail to
act. . . . Three operators of the two casinos and 48 employees were carted
off to jail at Alton in a state police convoy after the raiders surprised
about 800 customers in the two handbooks in the mid-afternoon rush of
betting business. The prisoners later were transferred to Madison county
jail at Edwardsville, where warrants charging them with handbook operation
were issued, and bail was arranged.
Fifty Illinois state troopers, mostly new men in the department, from
various sections of the state, swooped in on the two large gambling
establishments in simultaneous raids shortly after 3 p.m. Madison county
authorities were given no word of the well-planned raids, and there were no
state police on hand from the immediate East Side area.
Spearhead of the invasion of the two gambling establishments, which had
continued wide-open handbook operation in the face of repeated efforts by
the Governor to get local authorities to take action, were state troopers in
plain clothes, who mingled with the customers. Their presence apparently was
to insure that the raiding forces would get inside the establishments with
Using unmarked state cars, the uniformed raiders moved into the parking lots
at the Hyde Park Club, 836 Main Street, Venice, and the 200 Club, 200 State
Street, Madison, at the appointed moment.
separate groups were led by Assistant State's Attorney General Baird Helfrich; Thomas P. Brennan, administrative assistant to Director of Public
Safety Thomas O'Donnell; Normal J. Lee, Chief investigator for the State
Bureau of Investigation, and State Police Capt. R.C. Winder of Duquoin. . .
The 500 customers in the Hyde Park Club were busy with their racing forms,
receiving results from major horse tracks over a public address system.
Clerks were marking the 'boards' and cashiers were in their booths.
scene was much the same at the 200 Club, where some of the 300 customers
believed the troopers were robbers in police uniforms. Blackjack games were
going in both establishments, being conducted largely for the amusement of
customers between races. The dice, roulette and 'heavy' card games were
closed by the operators late last year because of 'poor business.' The Hyde
Park gambling casino is in a building separate from the handbook.
Customers were ordered to remain in their places while officers took their
names and addresses. The customers then were ordered outside, where many
loitered on the sidewalk watching developments. [Note: the
Post-Dispatch published the names and addresses of those arrested.]
After the customers had been disposed of, the officers began the removal of
betting paraphernalia and equipment. A moving van was summoned to the Hyde
Park Club to haul away the evidence, which included the familiar arm chairs
provided for horse bettors, bar stools, the loud speaker equipment, black
boards and the various printed charts and tabs. Equipment not taken was
smashed with axes, crowbars and heavy hat racks, the latter part of the
handbook equipment . . . .
Cash seized as evidence in the two handbooks totaled $22,663, of which
$16,663 was found in the cashiers' cages and the office at the Hyde Park
Club. Safes in the handbooks were too bulky to cart away, but authorities
plan to open the strong boxes later and expect to examine records of the
establishments. State police details were posted in the raided places
overnight. [Prior to the raids,] members
of the raiding force were summoned to Springfield by telephone, arriving
there by 11 a.m. yesterday. They were given a general briefing on the
situation, but were not told where the raids were to be made. It was not
until their cars approached Madison county that the rank and file of State
Police learned that their objectives were the Hyde Park and the 200 Clubs.
Madison County Sheriff Dallas T. Harrell was not notified, and there were no
local officers in on the raids" (pp. 1 and 3).
39.12: Captain R.C Winder of the
Illinois State Police (at left, with heavy metal hat rack used for smashing
equipment) and Norman J. Lee, Chief Investigator for the State Bureau of
(Photo on page 1 of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 5-13-50. Image is
poor due to scan of microfilm printout. None of the
other Post-Dispatch stories about gambling raids made the front page,
nor do they have photos.)
Sun-Times Photo of Gambling Equipment
Taken in the Raids by Stevenson's
(From Patricia Milligan-Harris, Adlai: The Springfield
Years, p. 58).
After the raid on Madison County, Stevenson issued a press release in which
he affirmed his commitment to using the State Police to enforce gambling
"The State Police will be used again if need be to
stop persistent, defiant violation, although the force is still in
process of reorganization and has all it can do to patrol the highways,
enforce the truck weight laws and discharge its regular duties. . . . The
local citizenry and their elected officials can stop commercialized gambling
with its attendant corruption and lawlessness. I hope they will, and that
Illinois will not contribute further to the abdication of local government
and local responsibility" (Johnson and Evans, p. 272).
Raid 2: May 26, 1950: Grundy, Iroquois, and Jo
Davies Counties (northwestern Illinois). A wide-ranging, early
afternoon raid led by Assistant Attorney General Baird Helfrich that confiscated 180 slot machines, a dice table, a
roulette wheel, and wall boards with horse-race information from taverns,
restaurants, roadhouses, and gasoline stations (St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
For years I was unable to find a photo of Mr. Helfrich, who was a key player in many State Police
gambling raids and subsequent legal proceedings, including litigation
stemming from the raid in Lincoln on October 11, 1950. The Illinois
Blue Books do not have photos of Assistant Attorneys General in this
period, perhaps to help prevent easy recognition and violent retaliation
by gangsters. A photo of Helfrich emailed to me late in 2010 appears later
in this document along with an explanation.)
Patricia Milligan-Harris writes the following revealing and amusing account of the
"On the morning of the gambling raid, we three bureau managers received
calls to gather at the home of Stevenson's public relations man after
telling our Chicago offices we would be out of pocket for a while. The most
elaborate precautions were taken to assure the utmost secrecy involving our
addition, we were given an eight-point list of orders which were to be
followed by the police:
the device politely and courteously until pickup.
no one to remove device, or telephone, until pickup (on threat of arrest).
Ask all persons leaving premises to give name and address.
each machine with name and address of place where located along with name
and owner of place.
Obtain name and address of owner, serviceman and collector on each device,
Proceed to another spot and repeat same on any devices found in open view,
until no other devices in public view.
all devices to local State's Attorney indicating that each officer
confiscating a machine wants to issue a complaint for immediate destruction
under Chapter 38, Paragraph 342, Illinois Revised Statutes, and that
Attorney General will advise him on procedure if desired. Complaint
should issue from County Court or Circuit Court preferably.
warrants are to be issued against persons, only against machines, unless
local State's Attorney requests same before he will authorize warrants
against the machines. Warrant will be 'People of State of Illinois vs. Slot
Machines' and one warrant for each place where machines were seized should
be issued on complaint by officer who seized same.
8. No comment to press. Courteous raid against property, not people. No
arrests unless absolutely necessary.
into an unmarked state car with the two other managers, a state
photographer, the public relations man and with a plainclothes officer at
the wheel, we headed up into northern Illinois, a trip of several hours.
Pulling up to a halt just outside the small community of Morris in Grundy
County (which just happened coincidentally to be in the political territory
of Republican U.S. Sen. Everett McKinley Dirksen), we waited while our
driver solemnly checked his watch. Everything was synchronized, he told us.
No calls on the police radio were to be made for fear the gamblers were
monitoring the air waves. Silently, we waited and watched until the secret
zero hour arrived and our driver announced grimly 'We're off!' and stepped
on the accelerator.
still admiring the split-second precision with which everything was
coordinated as we sped into the drowsy little town of Morris, roared through
the downtown area leaving surprised passersby in our wake, tore on out the
other side of town and came to a panting halt in the middle of a cornfield.
the hell's the raid?" the photographer asked.
driver shook his head, turned the car around and sped back into town as fast
as he could go and on out the other side where we came to stop again.
know,' he said. 'I thought it was on the main drag.'
that he didn't even know the name of the place being raided. The
photographer had an idea.
us on into town again, only go slow,' he said, 'and stop at the first tavern
scheme worked. When he emerged from the tavern, he gave us directions.
easy,' he said. 'I just asked them where I could place a bet.' By the
time we pulled up in front of a roadhouse called 'The Seven Gables' a mile
north of the town, fourteen state policemen had already broken in and were
busy disposing of thirty-two slot machines, a gambling table, a roulette
wheel and several horse race wall boards. The manager of the roadhouse,
leaning resignedly against the bar, asked us politely if we would care for a
drink. When the phone rang, he lifted the receiver, listened a moment and
then replied with great aplomb:
I can't accept any bets today. We're being raided by Adlai Stevenson's
we didn't know until later, other state police had swooped down on gambling
spots throughout a three-county area, confiscating in all some two hundred
pieces of gambling equipment which they presented to the state's attorneys
in the counties. Back in
Springfield, Governor Stevenson issued a statement: 'The
Attorney General and I regret the necessity of these raids on commercialized
gambling. The local government should protect its own integrity. Besides,
the taxpayers should not have to pay for law enforcement twice" (Harris, pp.
Subsequently Grundy County Judge William G. Peacock ordered the destruction
of $5,000 worth of slot machines taken in the second raid, while questioning
the legality of that raid: "He said he did not believe the act of establishing
the state police empowered members of the force to enter a county, make
raids and carry on other normal police duties without calling upon a
constable or other enforcement officer of the county concerned. Judge
Peacock found, however, that since the goods had been seized and they are
illegal, they should be destroyed. Headed for the torch and ax are 89 slot
machines, two diced tables, one roulette wheel and table, a quantity of
punchboards and a complete setup for a horse race bookmakers" (St.
Louis Post-Dispatch, 6-16-50, p. 11A).
39.14: The A. L. (Tod) Sloan Memorial
Press Room in the Illinois Statehouse
Book 1951-52, p. 270)
Raid 3: June 10, 1950: Lake County
(northern Illinois near Chicago). $100,000 worth of gambling devices was
confiscated from resorts and taverns in Ivanhoe, Liberty (location of
Stevenson's family residence), Volo, Mundelein, Half Day, Long Grove, Lake
Zurich, Wauconda, Antioch, Loon Lake, Lake Villa, and Fox Lake.
6, 1950: Gangster Roy Shelton shot to death on his tractor on his farm near
Fairfield in Wayne Co. Related raid: July 4, 1950: Cook County State's
Attorney's police raid the Tam O'Shanter Country Club. On July 17th, the St.
Louis Post-Dispatch carried a brief story about a low turnout at a
meeting called to discuss the legalization of gambling in Illinois. The
meeting was called by the owner of "the notorious FAR Club in East Peoria,
Illinois," who had sent out about 400 invitations. Only about 12 tavern
owners attended. The instigator of the meeting said "those who did not
attend probably were 'scared of being called criminals'" (p. 2A).
Raid 4: July 19, 1950: Pulaski County
(extreme southern tip of the state). $20,000 worth of gambling equipment
confiscated from simultaneous raids on six night clubs and taverns in or
near various towns, including Cairo.
On July 25, 1950, at Rock Island, Illinois
(western Illinois on the Mississippi River), the Chicago Syndicate was accused
of supplying nude dancers to local taverns. On August 3, machines valued at
$20,000 that were taken in the Pulaski County raid were destroyed. The
county State's Attorney said, "It was a good thing for the tax payers. I
hope the state police will call again because they can do things we can't"
(Post-Dispatch, 8-4-50). As indicated elsewhere on this page,
Governor Stevenson strongly disagreed. On August 10, 1950, five Illinois State Police
were fired because they stole $150 from slot machines seized in the Pulaski
County raid (Post-Dispatch, 8-11-50, p. 13A).
Raid 5: October 11, 1950: Macon and Logan Counties,
including Lincoln, Illinois
(central Illinois). Information about the Lincoln-Logan County raid
will appear on a forthcoming companion page in this Web site.
39.15: Headline in Newspaper of
39.16: Pin Ball Machines
Lined up in Lincoln, Illinois
(Lincoln Evening Courier, 8-12-50, p. 1)
State Police simultaneously raided Logan and Macon Counties:
"In the stepped up offensive against
gambling, 49 policemen raided 51 establishments in Logan County,
confiscating 76 'one ball' devices. A harvest of 100 'one ball' and 25 slot
machines was made by 73 officers who raided 71 places in Macon County.
The raiders struck at rural
taverns in both counties. They also made taverns in Lincoln, Mt. Pulaski,
Elkhart, and Broadwell in Logan county and Decatur, Maroa, Macon, and Blue
Mound in Macon county.
The 'one ball' machine seized
last night is a type of pinball game in which only one ball is shot. If the
ball drops in the proper slot, a payoff is made by the house. Such machines
are common in taverns in St. Louis where arrests are made only where
evidence of gambling is obtained" (Post-Dispatch, 10-12-50, p.
For detailed information, including the lengthy,
plot-twisted legal proceedings after the Logan County raids, see
Gambling Raids in Lincoln and Logan County, Illinois,
During the Late Route 66 Era (1950-1960).
Raid 6: November 30, 1951: McLean County, including
Bloomington: According to an article in the Lincoln Evening
Courier, "in a
series of raids in McLean County, 105 State Policemen carted off pinball
machines. The Friday afternoon raid was led by an official of the State
Department of Public Safety. More than 100 machines were picked up. The
raids in Bloomington netted about 50 devices and those outside the city 50
to 60 more.
Thirty-four places were raided
in Bloomington and 43 elsewhere in McLean County. Included were the towns of
Heyworth, Leroy, McLean, Cooksville, Colfax, Saybrook, Ellsworth, Gridley,
Chenoa, Lexington, Towanda, and Danvers.
The raids were under the
leadership of Thomas Brennan, administrative assistant to the director of
the Department of Public Safety.
Among the establishments raided by Brennan and the
police were candy stores, taverns, drug stores, pool rooms, roadside
restaurants, and gasoline stations.
Police said those playing the
machines received less than 5 percent of their money back, on the average.
Brennan said the State Police
and his office had been investigating the machines for about a week and had
'definite evidence' that payments were made to persons who made winning
The payments, he said, most
frequently were made by the proprietor or bartender of the establishment
housing the machines which had been allowed to operate in the county for
years, ostensibly for 'amusement only.' Five state trucks hauled the machines to a central
collecting spot in Bloomington, Brennan said he would seek a McLean County
court order next week to destroy them" (Courier, 12-1-51, p.
* * *
I do not know if the McLean County raid was the final one in the series of
State Police raids during 1950. In his 1952 article in The Atlantic,
Stevenson mentions that the Illinois State Police raids on gambling had
continued beyond 1950 ("Who Runs the Gambling Machines?," p. 35).
I wonder if there might have been a State Police raid in Springfield or
Sangamon County. Would Stevenson order raids so close to home that might
catch important rivals in their extracurricular activities, embarrass them,
and spur them to seek revenge?
Certainly Springfield was as ripe for raiding as any other place in
Illinois. Journalist Patricia Milligan-Harris describes the gambling scene of
Springfield: Wide open gambling flourished. Punchboards were
displayed prominently beside cash registers. Cashiers offered to roll the
dice 'double or nothing' with customers. Blackjack tables, roulette wheels
and slot machines abounded. Everything was so out in the open that when I
first arrived there, I thought that gambling was legal" (Adlai:
The Springfield Years, p. 27).
Stevenson's Final Word on Gambling
Adlai Stevenson had apparently used State Police
raids as a last resort to diminish gambling, and he did not use this
dramatic action for selfish publicity. In fact, the Illinois Blue
Books for 1949-50 and for 1951-52 feature "High Points of Service" in
the sections devoted to the Attorney General's activity, but no reference
whatsoever is given to the State Police gambling raids. The February, 1952, issue of The Atlantic
ran Stevenson's article titled "Who Runs the Gambling Machines?," and this
article seems to be his final and most complete position statement on how
this problem should be handled. In this article, Stevenson offers statistics
to indicate the effectiveness of the State Police gambling raids, but his
main point is that he feels the better solution is local law enforcement.
39.17: Stevenson on the Cover
of The Atlantic in 1952--the Last Year of His Governorship
Before Being Drafted as the Democratic Party's Presidential Candidate
Stevenson explains his views on law
enforcement against gambling:
"From the period July 1, 1948,
through June 30, 1949, about 8,400 lot machines were registered for Federal
taxation in this area. How many more were in use is anybody's guess. The
raids began in May, 1950. For the period of July 1, 1950, through June 30,
1951, the registrations totaled about 3,400--a decline of 60 percent. And
for the first three months of the new license year beginning July 1, 1951,
the total registrations were down to 1,783.
This seemingly remarkable
improvement is due, as I say, not only to the State Police action but also
to the effect of state intervention in alerting the people and the press
locally and stimulating action by their officials. This latter is, of
course, precisely the result for which we had hoped.
I measure my words carefully when I say that not a
single one of these raids was necessitated by any inherent inability on the
part of the local officials to cope with the conditions themselves. in my
judgment the problem was neither too big nor to complex for the local
officials to handle in a single case.
The State Police force of
Illinois is undermanned for its normal duties of patrolling thousands of
miles of highways night and day, directing traffic at many congested
points, enforcing the truck-weight laws, chasing stolen cars, and so forth.
They should not have to divert further time and effort to this task of local
law enforcement. Those who talk so much about economy in government
should reflect that this added duty can only result in higher costs of
government, because the taxpayers are required to pay double for law
enforcement--to the local officials who fail to do the job and also to the
state to do the job for them.
The spectacle of the state
having to use its money and resources to do work which local officials are
elected and paid to do is distasteful, to say the least. And the county
officials who hold the purse strings and withhold funds honestly needed by
conscientious local law enforcement officers are themselves contributing to
the very loss of power and responsibility which they deplore.
Now this situation presents, it
seems to me, a classic case of why governmental functions climb the ladder
to higher levels. In the enforcement of gambling laws, certainly, there
is no one higher up reaching down for the added power. Rather, it is being
thrust upon us by local default. And it is time we recognized that the
'conspiracy' against our liberties from above is too often a device to
excuse our own inaction [bold mine].
I should like to see the
Illinois State Police withdraw from this field and give their full time to
their other pressing and important duties. But they are not going to get
out while I'm in if by doing so law enforcement will go by default and the
hoodlums get the green light to exact their grim toll of our purses, our
morals, and our public life" [bold mine] (p. 36).
Stevenson explains the circumstances that, in his
view, have retarded local officials from enforcing the gambling laws:
"The slot machine registration
figures show something else which cannot be overlooked. It has been
estimated that in 1948 and 1949, 75 per cent of the registered gambling
devices in Illinois were in taverns and similar public places. For the year
beginning July 1, 1950, the Federal registration figures released for these
seventy-six counties of Illinois were broken down by location into three
categories: taverns, fraternal organizations, and private clubs. For this
period the figures showed 37 per cent of the machines in taverns, 49 per
cent in fraternal organizations, and 14 per cent in the clubs. For the first
three months of the new license year beginning July 1, 1951, the
distribution was 7 per cent in taverns and 93 percent in lodges, veterans'
posts, clubs, and so forth. Army and Navy posts no longer bear any of the
blame for these results, because Congress a year ago expressly prohibited
gambling devices at military installations.
These figures speak for
themselves. They speak loudly and insistently of an attempt to establish a
double standard of law observance which would negate the concept of equal
treatment for all, the most basic concept we have. I have heard all the
arguments about how the slot machine in the country club is one thing and
the slot machine in the corner saloon another. Of course there is a
difference. But I know also that the machine in either place is against the
law as it stands on the books; and I know further that the citizen who
'harmlessly' violates the law in his country club or fraternal lodge is in
no position to, and does not in fact, insist that his elected officers
enforce the law in the corner saloon.
By this very act of
self-indulgence many of our most reputable and influential citizens
sterilize their power and influence to demand and get faithful performance
by their local officials. They have tied their own hands and stopped their
own mouths--and on this issue they evaporate as a community force. They
place honest and conscientious law enforcement officials under intolerable
and unwarranted social pressures. They delude themselves that they have
discovered a way of maintaining their clubs and activities for nothing--and
they pay ten times over in terms of lax laws enforcement, corrupted
officials, and venal politics, opaque morals, and finally the surrender of
self-government to higher levels of authority.
When Congress decided more than a year
ago to prohibit the shipment of gambling devices in interstate commerce, I
pointed out that this law might only aggravate our problem in Illinois
because virtually all such devices are manufactured in Cook County,
Illinois. Clearly the one place where traffic in slot machines could be
carried on without falling afoul of Uncle Sam was in this state. Hence, I
recommended to the Illinois legislature last spring that the state should
supplement the Act of Congress by prohibiting the manufacture of such
devices, so that our local law enforcement officers could knock out the
traffic at its source.
Two bills were introduced to this end.
They never got out of committee. And it was clear to observers of these
proceedings that the fraternal and veterans' organizations and the private
clubs were opposed to them. The criminal syndicates didn't even have to get
into the act. They sat back and let the respectable elements do their own
for them. Yet many good citizens insist that slot machines in clubrooms have no
effect on crime in general, while uniformly they bemoan the way in which
Washington and the state capital at Springfield are encroaching on the
powers reserved to local government (pp. 36-37).
. . . . While I am on the
subject of public responsibility, I should like to point out that public
officials don't corrupt each other; that behind every bribe taker in
government is a bribe giver, behind every fixer is a fix, behind every
influence peddler is someone who wants the influence, behind every lobbyist
is a pressure group. Who are they? Why, they are 'the people.' And sometimes
they are not cheaters and scum but the same 'respectable' people who demand
that all the officials in a government by the governed should be cleaner
than the governed, cleaner than themselves.
There is a price tag on good
local government as there is on everything else. It must be paid for in
active and continuing interest in local affairs [emphasis mine], in
self-denial in all those situations where self-indulgence--the double
standard--has a harmful effect on the community at large, in willingness to
press issues insistently in the face of strong personal and social
I do not want to see
Springfield take over the control and direction of law enforcement
throughout Illinois. All the signposts on that road point to Washington. The
values of local government are too great and too inclusive to be frittered
away in any single respect without first doing everything we can to
preserve them. In law enforcement our problem is not so much to devise new
machinery as to make what we have work" (p. 38).
Capital City Crusaders: Governor Stevenson with Best Friend, King Arthur
(United Press Photo in Noel F. Busch, Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois,
p. 222. Note the shadowy, otherworldly figure of Abraham Lincoln looking over the Governor's
shoulder. I suspect that when Abraham Lincoln now walks at midnight, as
Vachel Lindsay describes, he has
Note: the links below are several years old, so they are unreliable.
Baker, Jean H. Stevensons: A Biography of an American Family. NY:
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1996.
Barrett, Edward J., ed. Illinois Blue Book 1949-1950. Springfield,
IL: State of Illinois, 1950.
_____. Illinois Blue Book 1951-52. Springfield, IL: State of
Busch, Noel F. Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois. New York: Farrar,
Straus & Young, 1952.
Carpentier, Charles F. ed. Illinois Blue Book 1959-60. Springfield,
IL: State of Illinois, 1960.
Harris, Patricia Milligan. Adlai: The Springfield Years. Nashville,
TN: Aurora Publishers, Inc., 1975.
Lincoln Evening Courier (various issues in 1950 and 1954).
Martin, John Bartlow. Adlai Stevenson of Illinois: The Life of Adlai E.
Stevenson. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1976.
Steinbeck, John, quoted in Speeches of Stevenson, Debs Myers and
Martin Randolph, eds. NY: Random House, 1952.
Stevenson, Adlai E., quoted in The Papers of Adlai E. Stevenson, vol.
III, Walter Johnson and Carol Evans, eds. Boston: Little, Brown and
_____ . "Who Runs the Gambling Machines?" The Atlantic February,
1952, pp. 35-38.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, various issues May, 1950, through November,
Downstate Publications, books by Taylor Pensoneau, including Brothers
Notorious: The Sheltons (nonfiction) and The Summer of '50, a
novel about gang violence related to gambling in Illinois of the summer of
1950--at the peak of Stevenson's gambling raids:
"Dwight Herbert Green." A sympathetic biographical sketch of Governor Green:
"Frank 'Buster' Wortman Composite Obituary and Related Story from the
Journal, Post-Dispatch, and News-Democrat." Below is a
link to a Web page with information about one of the most powerful Illinois
"wheelers and dealers" of slot machines and pinball machines in the post-WW
II era. This page is just one in a book-length Web site about the colorful
history of the East St. Louis region.
Furry, William. "Gentlemen Bandits," a critical review of Taylor Pensoneau's
nonfiction book, Brothers Notorious: The Sheltons, Southern Illinois'
"Governorship: "I never fancied myself a combatant politico." Presents more
photos of Stevenson as governor of Illinois, including him at the 1950
Illinois State Fair:
Ruppel, Louis. Biographical sketch and gravesite in Arlington National
Email comments, corrections, questions, or suggestions.
Also please email me if this Web site helps you decide to visit Lincoln, Illinois: DLHenson@missouristate.edu.
"The Past Is But the