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Let's talk about the Purple Gang

  • Needs a date

  • Cafe D'Mongos Speakeasy

    Griswold, Detroit, MI (map)

    42.333012 -83.049217

  • I don't know if this has been done before, but...

    I'd really like to get someone who knows the history of the Gang and more about how they were viewed by the average man on the street.

    Our family tells apocryphal stories about how my dad and uncle were treated with great respect by local shopkeepers because they were mistaken for gang members back in the day (the 30's).

    I'm not going to suggest a date or location yet, because I'm hoping an historian might be able to chime in with something relevant. where did they hand out? Are any of their hangouts appropriate now? I'm hoping we can find a place closer than Clare.


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  • Barbara

    My mother used to tell stories about Purple gang members coming into a restaurant she worked in as teenager. She says they were very polite and generous tippers.

    May 7

    • Scott J

      It's great that they could spare some extra change since they didn't spare many lives.

      May 7

  • Steve W.

    Ok..... so let's set it up?

    May 7

  • Steve W.

    Sounds great... just need a time and place.

    1 · March 12

    • Chris F.

      So looking forward to this. I missed the last one. Let's do it!! :-)

      March 12

  • Laura Weglarz H.

    I had a neighbor who investigated the Purple Gang. He was a detective for the city of Detroit. He passed away several years ago. But he did give my daughter photographs, reports etc on the Purple Gang. She actually did a dissertation on the Gang! Hope to find it before we meet!!!

    3 · March 2

    • James H.

      Would love to see that material. Sounds pretty organic.

      2 · March 2

    • Laura Weglarz H.

      I will see if my daughter remembers where she put the documents. She is a first year at MSU! Finding it in her room maybe an adventure!

      1 · March 2

  • Ryan M. P.

    Hi, Ryan Place with the Book Club of Detroit here. Yes, i agree, D'Mongo's cannot possibly hold[masked] people. However, we can see if owner Larry Mongo is willing to come to the Stonehouse Bar and join others in speaking about the Purple Gang. I would be happy to talk to him on behalf of DDHS. It would be cool to have a variety of different people talk about the Purple Gang, share photos, etc. For example, Chinky ran the Schvitz Oakland Ave Bathhouse where the Purple Gang used to meet. It opened 1930 and he owned it until 1977. Chinky passed away in 93 but his son runs Uncle Harry's Deli in St. Clair Shores and might have some cool photos or trivia, etc, on the Purples. Maybe we can ask him?

    Let me know what y'all want to do, thanks!

    1 · February 29

  • Karla R.

    That sounds awesome James

    1 · February 29

  • James H.

    I'm one of the managing partners of The Stonehouse Bar, historic Detroit speakeasy and brothel of the Purples during prohibition. We would be happy to host a Purple Gang discussion, and yes we have Booz!

    7 · February 29

    • Mark D.

      Let's do this thing!

      1 · February 29

  • Laura Weglarz H.

    Purple Gang had a hide out near my home on Lake Erie

    1 · February 28

  • Liza

    Hey! There's no way two hundred or more people will fit at D'Mongos Speakeasy. There is impressive interest on this topic..and perhaps any reason to get together and mingle!

    2 · December 29

  • Don A.

    Tommy's Saloon behind the Fort St. Presbyterian Church at Fort and Third was a speakeasy and possible hang out for the Purple Gang. The saloon was built in the 1860s, has the remains of a speakeasy in the basement with a "secret" stairway to the building next door (the building next door is now gone but old maps show it.) Tommy's Saloon was the original home of Little Harry's, home to a lot of gangster activity.

    2 · December 2

  • Dan S.

    My Great Uncle Jimmy bought a car from one of the Purple Gang members. The car was built with bullet proof thick steel. One of his doors accidentally opened
    up while driving down Grand River. That alone damaged three park car's.

    1 · November 4

  • David D.

    Hiram Walker in Canada is also another good place to meet....... a source of some of the Purple Gang's profit.

    September 13

  • Wendy A.

    Hey....all these Meetups sound GREAT....but when is the next PARTY????

    2 · August 9

  • Laura

    Really looking forward to this! Date date date set a date!!!!! Not mid-September please!!!!

    3 · August 5

  • jacqueline h.

    I'll be there, unless I have a direct conflict.

    August 5

  • Jim

    I would love to attend.. I was told by my dad (he has since passed) who grew up in Detroit that when he was young he hung out in a pool hall that was frequented by members of the Purple Gang.. go figure.

    1 · August 5

  • Wendy Anderson changed the location to Cafe D'Mongos Speakeasy

    August 4

  • Wendy Anderson removed the location. It was cafe du mongo

    August 4

  • Wendy Anderson changed the location to cafe du mongo

    August 4

  • Chris F.

    Since I missed it the last time, I'm really looking forward to this one!
    Thank you, Organizers, for always finding great events for us!

    August 4

  • Bill H.

    My Great Grandparents had a rooming house right across the street from Frank's Bar in Wyandotte. Members of the Purple gang stayed there on occasion. I believe RP McMurphy's on Biddle in Wyandotte also was connected to the Purple Gang. It was a speakeasy during Prohibition.

    1 · April 13, 2014

    • James P.

      I was raised in Wyandotte and I have also heard of speakeasies including Corrigan's Cafe. This would have been where 4th street ran into Biddle, a little south of Eureka.

      1 · August 4

  • Stephanie K.

    Sindbad's on the River might be a good place.

    2 · April 24, 2015

  • Bill

    I know their up north getaway was in Rose City. It was such a cool place. I went there as a kind on vacation with my mom and dad, 35 years ago. Too bad it burned down. I am up for attending this event if you get it going.

    October 26, 2014

  • Aletta H.

    I look forward to more info on this event. I plan to attend with one guest.

    1 · October 21, 2014

  • Joanna Z.

    Wouldn't the Albion Chamber of Commerce or a professor at Albion College be able to help find a historical expert. The Purple Gang used Albion as their halfway point. And the school offers Purple Gang walking tours.

    April 14, 2014

    • Linda

      Joanna, I have found an expert. He is Paul kvieff, am waiting for someone to suggest a date, place and contact name.

      2 · April 14, 2014

    • G

      I've been to a few of his talks - and survived ...

      May 9, 2014

  • G

    If anybody is interested -
    There is a talk on the " Detroit Mafia"
    (... Purple Gang + ) -
    Tonight - Wednesday - 05/07/2014 -
    At the Caroline Kennedy Library -
    in Dearborn Heights -
    5 blocks W of Telegraph -
    3 Blocks N of Ford Rd -
    7 pm - No booze though ...

    1 · May 7, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Who gave the talk?

      1 · May 8, 2014

    • G

      - Paul Kavieff - " The Purple Gang " - book - authur .

      May 9, 2014

  • Jean S.

    Hello Purple Gang Fans! If anyone is interested I recently published a novel about Detroit that has many elements of the Purple Gang- It is titled "The Sugar House" and it has been receiving terrific reviews! Check it out on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Sugar-House-Jean-Scheffler/dp/0991192508

    Thank you for your support. I am a local author & passionate Detroiter. Hoping to meet all of you soon at this Meetup!

    1 · May 8, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Hi Jean,
      In your research have you ever come across Everett Watson? He was a "numbers banker" that owned the Yellow Dog Co., a numbers racket he ran. He was also a prominent business person and lived on Adams Street. My understanding is that he was the one that caused the Federal Convictions of the Mayor and a number of Detroit police officers in 1941.

      1 · May 8, 2014

    • Jean S.

      I honestly have to say I do not recall that particular name. I tried to stay with the more major players when researching and writing. (Bernstein Brothers etc.)

      May 9, 2014

  • Sandy B.

    Does any know if Victor Bernstein ever was an attorney for the Purple Gang?

    May 7, 2014

  • Shari C.

    I can't remember my exact comments but there certainly weren't any orgies or at least I didn't see anything like that at the Schvitz. There were several middle-aged couples in a pool, having massages, eating dinner. This was about 10 years ago.

    April 17, 2014

  • Linda

    Ok, I attended the lecture on The Purple Gang at Lorenzo Cultural Center. The speaker and author of two books on the subject is Paul Kavieff. I also have his phone number and will give it privately to whomever is putting this together. I would also be happy to call him. He said he would come out and speak. I just need a place and time to give him.

    1 · April 12, 2014

  • Lynn

    The Purple Gang had a retreat/hideout type spot out here in Brighton, believe it or not. Read about it a few years ago.

    January 4, 2014

    • Jaclyn

      They have a similar place in Romeo and it has been converted into a bed and breakfast! It's absolutely beautiful!

      March 2, 2014

    • Jennifer

      Jaclyn do you know which place this is? My aunt lives out this way and I'd be interested to know more about it.

      March 4, 2014

  • Linda

    I can do it. I am planning to attend that lecture. Should I ask him about specific dates? Do we have a potential location where he might speak?

    February 19, 2014

  • Scott J

    The Macomb Cultural Center is doing an entire lecture series on The Roaring Twenties in Detroit. On April 4 they have a lecture with Paul Kavieff about The Purple Gang. Unfortunately it is on a Friday at 11am. Since he is "the guy" who knows the most about this subject, maybe someone can attend this lecture and ask him to present to this group.

    3 · February 19, 2014

  • Barbara R.

    Contact Larry D'Mongo @ Cafe D'Mongo's Speakeasy. They are only open on Friday and Saturday nights. I'm sure he could be swayed to open on a Thursday night for a special event.... The ambience there would be perfect for this event...

    4 · January 31, 2014

  • Laurie K.

    I thought I still had the Hour Magazine issue with a great article about the author of a book about The Purple Gang, but I can't seem to locate it. I looked the article up. http://www.hourdetroit.com/Hour-Detroit/September-2008/Purple-Reign/

    January 28, 2014

  • Erika

    I will definitely participate in a Purple Gang meet up! When this happens it would be cool to have anyone with articles or stories share them at that time.

    1 · January 28, 2014

  • Crystal

    I have a relative who was kidnapped in the sometime between 1930 's and 1940's. she was rescued by the Purple Gang. Three was a write up about it in a local magazine. I have a copy of the entire story. I'll have to dig it up. Fascinating read.

    3 · November 13, 2013

    • Alex

      But the Purple Gang were all gangsters. Why would they rescue your relative?

      November 13, 2013

    • Jennifer

      Crystal is there any way you can find the article and post it here?

      January 28, 2014

  • throw2back

    Checkout this link for the Purple Gang clubhouse.
    http://thestonehousebar.tripod.com/

    January 27, 2014

    • Jennifer

      Interesting...this calls for a meetup!

      January 28, 2014

  • Damian

    Cafe D'Mongo's - http://vimeo.com/26804989

    2 · November 15, 2013

  • Damian

    Checkout Café D'Mongo's. It's only open on Fridays and Saturdays. Better make it early because it gets packed. And if you've ever spoken with Larry, you know that he can tell you stories about the old Detroit gangs and the mob. They have a flow chart up on the wall of the old Purple gang members. D'Mongo's is a real Detroit gem.

    As for where they used to hang out, the Leyland Hotel is still around, although City Club probably wouldn't be the place for this meetup, lol.

    3 · November 15, 2013

  • Laura

    Ms. Brianna, I could NOT agree more!!!

    1 · November 1, 2013

  • LaVette

    Can I suggest the Two James Distillery on Michigan Ave. in Corktown as a venue?

    October 30, 2013

  • G

    Dearborn Height Library - had a few history types do an Purple Gang evening - a few months back ...
    Good stuff - but no BEER - or Gin ...
    (( coincidentally - we want to start a band with that name ... )
    (( No - not Dearborn Height Library ... ))

    October 29, 2013

  • Elizabeth S.

    A slight correction. My father served from 1933 to 39, then again from 43 to 51. He was an opponent of prohibition and knew how that benefited the criminal elements, including the Purple Gang.

    October 27, 2013

  • Elizabeth S.

    From[masked], my father, George Sadowski, served 1st District U.S.Congressman, which at that time covered Detroit from the Points through Hamtramck. He hated the Purple Gang, which was operating in his district, and wanted Hoover to send in the F.B.I to help. Unbeknownst to my dad, the F.B. I. at Joe McCarthy's request, was following HIM, as a suspected Communist sympathizer since my father was support by "known" Red organizations like the Detroit Federation of Teachers. I'm still trying to find that heavily expurgated paperwork that (then) Cong. Dan Rostenkowski (yes, THAT Dan Rostenkowski) sent me years ago. Whatever did I do with it???

    October 27, 2013

  • Linda

    Dino's Lounge in Ferndale was used by the Purple Gang.

    2 · October 27, 2013

  • Laura

    There are rumors in my family that my great uncle was deported back to Canada due to being in the Purple Gang. No luck garnering information, though... the very fact that my grandfather's family was Jewish was in itself a deep dark secret. Thank goodness that was one of my building blocks to my atheism (and freedom!).

    1 · October 27, 2013

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