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In which a reader seeks my Seattle expertise and is sorely disappointed

In which a reader seeks my Seattle expertise and is sorely disappointed July 18, 2018

He writes

I hope you and your family are doing well. I’m a long-time reader of your books and blog. In fact, your book BY WHAT AUTHORITY? was one of the final pushes to my own crossing the Tiber. J

Thanks be to God!

Anyway, I was hoping you might have a few moments to share your thoughts on something that has little do with theology or current events. To explain … I lived in the Seattle / Tacoma area from the late ‘90s till about ten years ago when we moved to Maine. So I’m familiar with the area I’m working on a story, the opening scenes of which take place in Tacoma — but in 1981. I’m sure the Seattle / Tacoma area was a very different place in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s than the one I knew.

The main thing I remember from that time was the famous Aroma of Tacoma (from the smelter).

As a lifelong western Washingtonian, I was hoping you might be willing to share your thoughts on what the area was like around 1981. Specifically what I’m hoping to learn:

When did street crime start becoming a serious problem in the area?

I don’t know.

From what I can gather, there has been the usual organized crime element in both Seattle and Tacoma for decades, but the street gangs and illegal drug trade didn’t really get serious until the mid to late ‘80s. Is that true?

There was an infamous massacre at the Mah Mee gambling club in Chinatown. There was a gang shooting in Ballard in the mid-90s I think.  And Seattle is a great place to get heroin and has been since the 90s.  Ken Burns talks about our thriving bootleg industry during Prohibition (run by a cop who bought the city off).

Anyway, if you have the time and are so inclined, I would really appreciate it if you could share any thoughts you have on this. I thought it might be a nice change of pace from the usual theological and political questions you get. J But if you’re too busy or just aren’t interested, I completely understand. Please don’t feel obligated.

I wish I knew more, but I’m a suburban white guy with little contact with the Seattle underworld.

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