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Ray Gamble: Tacoma's Millionaire Magician

Listen to our most recent episode here!

Ray Gamble is a character that can almost be viewed as a representation of the city of Tacoma. From humble beginnings he pulled himself up by his boot straps to become wildly successful, and was a larger-than-life quirky character who is shrouded in mystique, even to this day. Kind of like Tacoma. And it all started with fish. His positive exchange with the Chinese firecracker man, in a time when Chinese people were treated as less than human, also represents how the Chinese and other immigrants helped to shape Tacoma.  This interaction with an immigrant was the spark that shaped the rest of his life. Immigrants, fish, and sawdust.

Jody and I attended a history presentation put on by McMenamin's Elk's Temple in Tacoma, Washington, about the way immigrants helped form the city. We were lucky enough to meet the presenter, Michael Sullivan, and he agreed to come on the show. Michael is a retired professor of history from the University of Washington, Tacoma, where he taught Pacific Northwest history and historical preservation for something like 23 years. This guy knows his history! Look mom, an actual expert! Michael is also the chairman of the board at History Link.

This episode is a little bit of a departure for us, as you get to hear Michael tell the story of the quirky character of Ray Gamble. Jody and I are just along for the ride. But, Michael is an excellent storyteller, and you will be mesmerized by this story! I know you love us for our poor research and semi-accurate reporting, but this guy is an actual expert. Also, I found a way to talk about Japan again. Big surprise!

Comment on this blog or on our social media if you want us to bring Michael back to talk about some more Tacoma history!

You can read Michael's article and see more of his work

You can see the videos of Mandrake the Magician here

Learn more about the Ryan House in Sumner here:

Sign a petition to save the Landmark on the Sound here:

Learn how to help save the Holy Rosary Church here:

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