Today we continue to look at some interesting facts about the Prohibition Era in America. If you missed previous installment of the onlinealcoholclass.com blog, I encourage you to go back.
In the last couple of blogs we discussed speakeasies, both how they still managed to sell alcohol and then became targets of shutdown by one incorruptible Prohibition officer names Emory Buckner.
Buckner had become success in shutting them down by placing a padlock on their doors, a lock that could be kept on for a full-year without a trial, however, speakeasies opened new "secret" entrances or moved to another location.
Hotels did not have the ability to "just move". The famous Knickerbocker Hotel went under as did the Manhattan Hotel (where the Manhattan cocktail was first created).
Buckner’s padlocking policy proved so successful in New York, that soon it was being used all across the country. Interestingly this policy included a giant redwood tree in California inside which a still was found to be operating.
Ironically, Buckner himself did not believe in Prohibition and admitted he enforced it because it was the law, not out of any moral conviction. He admitted that he had often imbibed before the law and thought it was a terrible mistake.
So, the many who enforced the Volstead Act did not believe in it, nor did the man whose name was attached to it, Andrew Volstead.
This is the ninth in a series of blogs here at onlinealcoholclass.com looking at the very interesting part of American history known as the Prohibition Era (1919-1933). In the last blog entry we discussed how restaurants were forced to close their doors because they could not sell booze while speakeasies thrived by continuing to offer alcoholic beverages and fantastic jazz. They survived by avoiding the law through bribery.
However, there were those who would not accept bribes and continued efforts to shut these local clubs down. One such man was Emory Buckner. A lawyer and Prohibition officer in New York, Buckner hit on a new strategy that struck a chill into the hearts of both drinkers and manufacturers.
Buckner’s strategy was to padlock the doors of any establishment caught in violation of the Volstead Act. The law, though it had many loopholes, allowed Buckner to keep them locked for a year before having to go to court. So instead of arresting a few hapless waiters and bartenders like before, it was possible to hurt the owners themselves.
Buckner vowed to shut down 1,000 establishments in New York alone, and he succeeded in shutting down some of the most prestigious in the city. Drinkers and speakeasy owners were in a panic.
The panic was short-lived as owners either just opened new entrances in the back of the padlocked clubs or moved to a different location.
Do you have any interesting info on Prohibition you would like to share?
Did you know that we are currently in Alcohol Awareness Month? How aware are you about alcohol? I posed this question to a group of teenagers during a speech at a local high school and came to learn that most teens do not see alcohol as something dangerous.
Of course, as a counselor for both in-class and online alcohol classes I am well-aware of the prevailing teen attitude toward alcohol. I see it, hear it and am aware of it's painful repercussions every single week.
Do you have a teen? Do you think your teen drinks alcohol? If so, does this worry you?
While teens’ lackadaisical attitude toward alcohol comes as no surprise -- since they see themselves as somewhat immortal – it shocks me that more parents are not concerned about their children’s attitudes towards alcohol nor their consumption of it.
How many teens do you know who have gotten into trouble where alcohol was a factor? My friend's son fell off a high balcony at a New Years Eve party where he'd been drinking. No one saw him fall nor called the paramedics. He suffered serious injuries and head trauma that has changed his life. To this day, he doesn't know what happened. The odds are virtually every teen and parent knows of an adolescent whose life has been altered by booze in some way. So why the relaxed attitude?
I encourage all parents to sign up for an alcohol class and take it with their teenager. It might be easier to sign up for an online alcohol class so that you can discuss and absorb the material together. I would recommend an 8-hour class from onlinealcoholclass.com
This is the eighth installment on this subject looking at interesting facts and circumstances that occurred during the Prohibition Era in America (1919-1933).
While it seemed like everyone was circumventing the Volstead Act and alcohol consumption went along unabated, there was one group that suffered greatly during Prohibition – restaurants. The loss of liquor sales hit restaurants hard. In New York, many of the most venerable restaurants, including Shanley’s, Sherry’s, Recotr’s, Browne’s Corp and even Delmonico’s had all shuttered by 1923. Delmonico’s would have celebrated its hundredth birthday just six months later.
With restaurants unable to sell booze where did patrons turn? As I mentioned earlier there were locales known as speakeasies where alcohol still was sold. How did they get around the law? As I mentioned in a previous blog they circumvented the law through large bribes paid to both politicians and law enforcement officials.
These speakeasies had quite imaginative names like the Hyena Club, Ha! Ha!, the Club Pansy, Tillie’s Chicken Shack and the ever-famous Cotton Club.
While consuming their alcoholic beverages, patrons of speakeasies enjoyed some of the best live music of the day. Musicians performing at these clubs include Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, Eubie Blake, Bessie Smith, Count Basie, and Louis Armstrong.
If you think cover charges for popular clubs are pricey today, back in the 1920s cover charges at speakeasies could be as much as $20 – easily a week’s wages for most folks.
I hope you find these onlinealcoholclass.com blogs on Prohibition interesting. We will continue to look at this incredible era again tomorrow.
This is the sixth in a series of blogs here at onlinealcoholclass.com uncovering interesting tid-bits about the Volstead Act and the Prohibition Era in America.
As you realize prohibition laws were nearly impossible to enforce due to the many loopholes. Did you know that during Prohibition you could still purchase and use alcohol for medicinal purposes? I am not talking about a swan of alcohol on the skin prior to an injection, I am talking about the legal consumption of a fermented beverage for medicinal reasons.
The doctors medicinal alcohol business during Prohibition earned at least $40 million per year 9all combined. In most cases the doctors simply handed out blank prescription slips. It has been noted that James Doran, the US Prohibition Commissioner had to authorize the manufacture of an additional three million gallons of whiskey for medicinal purposes. This did not happen just once, but many times over the 14-year period. They never admitted it was because there were so many people drinking medicinal booze. Instead they said the supply was depleted from “evaporation.”
Was there anyone who was not consuming booze during this period? Who was complying with this law? We will continue to look at this interesting topic in future onlinealcoholclass.com blogs.
This is the fifth in a series of blogs here at onlinealcoholclass.com looking at the interesting history of alcohol during the Prohibition Era (1919-1933).
We have already discussed how common it was for Prohibition agents to confiscate booze and then sell it right back to the original owners. It also was quite common to accept bribes, with the average Speakeasy paying out about $400 per month in bribe money to local law and political officials.
Chicago was a major hub for illegal bootlegging activity. In the summer of 1920 in Chicago, 134,000 gallons of whiskey (670,000 bottles) vanished from a warehouse where it was being stored after being seized.
It has been estimated that during Prohibition more than 50 million gallons of whiskey help in government warehouses went missing.
Without the help of law enforcement the Volstead Act was doomed to failure. There were more corrupt Prohibition agents than honest ones, many of whom were on the regular payroll of mob figures. The portrayal of the situation in HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” is fairly close to accurate. While there not have been a character named Nucky Thompson, the other big players of the day, Al Capone, Arnold Rothstein and Waxey Gordon are all real-life figures who made millions on illegal alcohol.
I hope you are enjoying this series because we will continue to look at it in the next onlinealcoholclass.com blog.
When the Volstead Act was passed in 1919 alcoholic beverages were banned in the United States. That most certainly did not mean all consumption ceased. This is the fourth in a series of blogs here at onlinealcoholclass.com looking at the Prohibition Era. If you have not read the previous installments, I encourage you to go back now. I am sure you will find it interesting.
Have you ever heard of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon? These are two tiny territories just off the southern tip of Newfoundland. The importance of these two tiny bergs is that during Prohibition there was tremendous pressure both in the United States and Canada to keep booze from being manufactured and sold in the USA. Saint-Pierre and Maquilon just happened to belong to France.
During Prohibition they became the world’s greatest importer of alcoholic beverages. It brought in more than 3 million bottles of champagne making it France’s biggest overseas market. It also imported vast quantities of brandy, Armagnac, calvados, and other spirits.
Neither the US nor French governments had any explanation as to why a tiny locale with 4,000 residents developed such a sudden attachment to booze. Nor had they any explanation for the nearly two dozen warehouses that popped up at the main port in Saint-Pierre.
Interesting, huh? The next onlinealcoholclass.com blog will continue to look at this interesting era in alcohol history in the United States.
This is the third in a series of blogs looking at interesting facts and circumstances surrounding the Prohibition Era.
How do you think the Volstead Act affected crime? I know many people who would believe that if there was less consumption of alcoholic beverages crime would go down.
That certainly was not the case in America in the 1920s after alcohol was banned. The national murder rate went up by 33% after Prohibition began. In the first 2 ½ years more than 30 Volstead Act agents were killed in the line of duty. Combine that with the fact that they were paid almost nothing (less than garbage men), you can guaranty that the attrition rate was huge.
Not only were the agents in danger, but the public was in danger from the agents. In Chicago alone Prohibition agents gunned down 23 innocent civilians in less than a decade.
Not only were Prohibition agents careless, they were also quite dishonest. A common ruse was for agents to confiscate liquor, then immediately sell it back to the original owners. Anyone who has watched the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire” starring Steve Bascom knows that bribery was routine. The average establishment paid out about $400 per month to police and local political officials in bribes.
We will continue to look at the Prohibition Era in the next onlinealcoholclass.com blog.
Let's look at some interesting facts about the Volstead Act and things that happened during Prohibition.
In the previous entry, we discovered that the act that banned alcohol in the country was named for a man who could have cared less whether or not people drank alcohol.
Did you know that the Act also included a clause that insured that there was “an ample supply of alcohol…to promote its use in scientific research and the development of fuel, dye and other lawful industries”? So, while banning alcohol, the act also insured there was an ample supply.
It has been speculated that a primary reason this law passed in the first place was due to the vague wording. The very fine print is where the true intent of the law is revealed. As we know with our elected representatives today, they do not read the legislation thoroughly. Today’s congressmen and senators have ample staff to go through the material, a luxury not available to elected officials in 1919. The fine print of the bill outlawed intoxicating beverages with an alcohol content greater than 0.5 percent – about the same as sauerkraut.
The majority of congressmen who supported the bill believed that beer and fortified wines would still be allowed. Oops – you should have read the whole bill!
We will continue to look at the Volstead Act and Prohibition in the next onlinealcoholclass.com blog.
As a counselor for online alcohol school, I like to learn about societal behavior and the laws that govern the consumption of fermented beverages. Recently, I was reading about the Prohibition era and learned some interesting information.
Did you know that the Volstead Act (the definitive law that outlawed fermented beverages) was remarkably vague? The law was named for Andrew J. Volstead, a senator from Minnesota whose most distinguishing attribute was a spectacular mustache that hung from his upper lip like a bearskin rug.
Though he did not imbibe, Volstead certainly did not mind that others did and personally never would have sought a national ban on alcohol. His name was attached because he was the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and helped draft the law.
Being associated with a ban on alcohol did nothing to support Volstead's favor in his home state – he was promptly voted out of office in the next election.
Unfortunately for the millions of Americans who were drinkers, the Volstead Act survived for many more years. Enacted in 1919, it stayed in effect until 1933.
We will continue to look at a few interesting tid bits on the Volstead act and the Prohibition Era in the next installment of the onlinealcoholclass.com blog.