Harlan Alexander Blackburn died on October 21, 1998, of respiratory failure at a prison hospital in Minnesota. He was 79 years old and serving a 24-½ year sentence for dealing drugs out of a trailer park in Longwood. It was an unglamorous end to a colorful life. For over 40 years, even when he was in prison, Blackburn was the boss of a loosely knit crew of gamblers, moonshiners, drug dealers, and thieves called the cracker mob. They operated across Central Florida from Polk County across to Volusia, from Okeechobee County up into South Georgia.
Catering to lovers of the well-written word and the well-mixed drink, Cocktail Noir.A lively look at the intertwining of alcohol and the underworld–represented by authors of crime both true and fictional and their glamorously disreputable characters, as well as by real life gangsters who built Prohibition-era empires on bootlegged booze. It celebrates the potent potables they imbibed and the watering holes they frequented, including some bars that continue to provide a second home for crime writers.
The hidden history of Tampa’s underworld is often intertwined with some of the city’s most cherished landmarks and popular restaurants. Tampa really didn’t have the storefront social clubs popular in cities like Boston and New York City. But Tampa did have more than its share of lounges, bars, restaurants, and newsstands where bolita bets were taken, baseball odds conveyed, drug deals went down, and local gangsters held sit-downs with visiting crime figures from New Orleans, New York, and Chicago.