Friday, May 13, 2011

Trump entertains Lions with a bit of history

Belle Fourche attorney Michael Trump last night (5/12/11) gave Lions a lively history lesson about old Deadwood, drawing upon research he did for his 157-page book Raiding Deadwood’s Bad Lands:  Its Illegal History of Prostitution and Gambling

When Deadwood was chosen as the only city in the United States to be designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1964, prostitution was still legal -- and would remain so for another 16 years.

Trump opined that Deadwood was one of the last gold rush mining towns established in the Black Hills, and that by 1876 many other communities were already getting organized, families were moving in and law and order was being implemented. So the purveyors of prostitution and gambling found new opportunities in the emerging settlement along Deadwood Gulch.

"You had people coming in to Deadwood that literally had made a career out of running a vice of some sort, and by the time they got to Deadwood, they were very experienced," said Trump.

Trump passed around a copy of his, which chronicles the long history of the red light district before and after prohibition. It's an Adams Museum & House publication.

Author Trump's father was a president at Black Hills State University, where Trump earned a bachelor's degree in history. During his time here, he visited Deadwood and was startled to see a building placard denoting the existence of legalized prostitution until 1980.

As he pursued a master's degree at the University of Wyoming, he was not enamored by thesis topics suggested by his major professor. That's when he presented his idea of the 1980 brothel raids in Deadwood.

I’ll never forget how his eyes lit up; he loved contemporary history stories, and he was completely sold on that idea.”

If Trump's professor was intrigued by the topic, so were the assembled Lions, as he told the story about how well-known television and movie actor Woody Harrelson's father, Charles, had been charged in the 1979 killing of a federal judge in San Antonio, Texas. Although a link was apparently never fully documented, a Deadwood brothel was believed to be a site where investigators were seeking evidence related to that case. The elder Harrelson was later convicted of the crime and sent to prison. He died in a Colorado prison in 2007.

In a short business session following Trump’s presentation, Belle Fourche Lions reaffirmed their focus on “Sight and Sound” projects that relate to the long-standing mission of Lions clubs.  The club has expanded its scope of community service projects over the years, but declined to back away from any of the many worthwhile initiatives in which members have been involved – ranging from building park shelters to roadside trash pick-up.

Club Treasurer Rich Drabek was again honored for his continuing good work in promoting Lion membership.  He was presented with news pins and certificates documenting his “Membership Excellence” by bringing two new members into the club last year.  You'll find the full-sized photo of this presentation and a wide variety of other club photos in our Lions Gallery.

Chairman Harry Haivala announced that volunteers are needed for a Highway 34 trash clean-up on Thursday, May 26, just prior to our regular Lions meeting.  Volunteers will gather at the Country Club at 5 o’clock and then re-convene later for our final meeting.

Belle Fourche Lions Club will mark its 75th anniversary next October, and it was agreed that the club will host a major event that month – inviting spouses and Lions members from surrounding communities to join us as we celebrate 75 years of service to the community!