Friday, April 27, 2018

Notes On The Ken Burns Series, "Prohibition"

I like Ken Burns; his stuff is always entertaining. Last week I watched this three-part series on Netflix. Fascinating stuff.

T-Totaler: a “Capital T-TOTAL” Abstainer from alcohol. It has nothing to do with tea.

Bootleggers: guys who walked around wearing baggy pants with whisky bottles in hidden pockets. They sold swigs.

Skid Row: A Seattle street down which workers skidded logs to the docks for shipping. There were lots of bars to serve the workers after they were done.

All of the big brewers were German-Americans, and they took a big PR hit from the abstinence crowd during World War I. This facilitated Prohibition to some extent, because the abstainers were already associating alcohol with urban immigrants.

The Income Tax connection: before the income tax, the government was dependent on the excise tax on alcohol as a source of revenue. Having the income tax, the excise tax was reduced and prohibition became a financial possibility.

Scofflaw: The Boston Herald offered a $200 prize for coming up with a new word for “someone who knows that something (drinking) is illegal, but does it (drinks) anyway.” Two people shared the prize for “scofflaw.”

Winston Churchill on prohibition: “Prohibition is an affront to the entire history of mankind.”

Grape Concentrate: a popular product during prohibition, and a savior of the growers of wine-grapes. “Do not add water and leave in a dark place or it will ferment and become wine.”

“Jump Steady:” a brand of bootleg alcohol in Philadelphia.

Some states didn’t repeal prohibition until long after the Amendment turning the matter over to the states. Will Rogers: “Oklahoma will be dry until its voters can no longer stagger to the polls to vote against repeal.”

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