Friday, December 05, 2008

Celebrate Repeal Day Today!!


1. Fuller dance floors at wedding receptions.

2. Alcohol makes you stronger, better looking, more interesting and impervious to criticism.

3. Beer makes it easier to watch the Cubs.

4. Tossing salted peanuts in a glass of beer makes the peanuts dance.

5.Without liquor, we'd never get those funny celebrity mug shots.

*from the Southtown Star, a division of the Chicago Sun-Times

At the stroke of midnight, on January 16th, 1920, America went dry. There wasn't a place in the country (including your own home) where you could legally have even a glass of wine with your dinner without breaking the law. The 18th Amendment, known as the Volstead Act, prohibited the manufacture, sale and possession of alcohol in America. Prohibition lasted for thirteen years.

The idea behind Prohibition was to reduce crime and poverty, and generally improve the quality of life in America-- by making it impossible for people to get their hands on alcohol. But, this so-called "Noble Experiment" was a colossal failure. People drank more than ever during Prohibition, and there were more deaths related to alcohol. No other law in America has been violated so flagrantly—by so many "decent law-abiding" people. Overnight almost everyone in the country became a criminal. Ordinary people hid illegal liquor in hip flasks, false books, and hollowed-out canes. In speakeasies, they drank bootleg liquor out of tea cups--just in case there was a police raid.

Mob-controlled liquor created a booming black market economy. Gangster-owned speakeasies replaced neighborhood saloons—and by 1925 there were over 100,000 speakeasies in New York City alone. Mob bosses opened plush nightclubs with exotic floor shows and the hottest bands. At Small's Paradise in Harlem, waiters danced the Charleston, carrying trays loaded down with cocktails. Popular stars like Fred and Adele Astaire entertained at The Trocadero. And at the Cotton Club, Duke Ellington led the house band as tap dancer Bojangles Robinson and jazz singer Ethel Waters packed the house. Out in rural America, on Midwestern college campuses, kids drank "bathtub gin" and danced to the hot jazz of Bix and the Wolverines in lakeside pavilions.

Over the course of the next thirteen years, support for Prohibition waned as the nation awoke to the widespread problems Prohibition had caused. The number of repeal organizations — many of which were comprised of former Prohibitionists — increased, and in 1932 Franklin Delano Roosevelt ran for President on a platform that included the repeal of Prohibition.

On December 5th, 1933, Utah, the final state needed for a three quarters majority, ratified the 21st Amendment, repealing Prohibition and restoring the American right to a celebratory drink.