Friday, April 18, 2014

Consequences be Damned

Can you imagine a time when grown men would sit around a bar room sipping on unadulterated soda pop?

Friend, I don't have to imagine such a time, I lived it. It was called Prohibition by the Government. 

We called it Hell on Earth.

We could get beer, and booze, if we wanted. But we couldn't do it legally. No stopping by the corner bar for a quick one; no drive thru Pony Keg on the way home. No, you had to know a man who knew a man, who had some. Dead of night runs to a seedy part of town, or trusting a shady character you just met with a wad of bills and hope that he would return with a drop of whiskey, or a few cans of home brew. You would hope that the whiskey was real, and not wood alcohol and food coloring. The beer you hoped was brewed like beer should be, and not aged in the tub somebody would have to wait two Saturday nights to use again.

Desperate times lead to desperate measures. Folks you wouldn't have talked to prior to the ban of beer were now your best companions. Things that would have been used to clean a clogged drain before were now mixed with a fruit juice and consumed. Not enjoyed mind you, but consumed.

Because the alternative was a cold Dr. Pepper down at what used be a corner bar. You felt sorry for yourself, but you pitied Charlie. The local barkeep used to be a man of substance. Held his head high in the local courthouse and the local Church. A donation to any cause was yours for the asking. His accounts were always marked 'Paid In Full' at any of the local merchants.  When Volstead got his act together, we all treated like a joke. Saturday nights we would still gather at the bar, sip a few Sody pops and shoot pool. By the second month the joke had worn thin.

By the third Charlie was feeling the pinch. 6 months in his kids were wearing hand-me-downs. A year in so was Charlie.

Five years in he was still hanging on by his shear will to beat that a-hole Volstead. His friends at the grocery and the hardware store were still able to carry his tabs. They were sure that any day now the rest of the country would come to it senses; see the mess they had made and restore beer.

And the day; the week; the month; the year would pass, and you were still buying what you hoped was liquor out of the rumble seat of a clapped out Model -T.

Charlie kept hanging on. As a former purveyor of spirits, he knew the law was hoping he would sell a drink. A short beer, a small snort; a jigger of something remotely resembling alcohol and he would go to jail. That bum kid who used to beat up his Johnny in 5th grade could sell a case of pop-skull rot-gut out the trunk of used Hupmobile- and make a small fortune doing it- but he couldn't have a snort in the house for medicinal purposes without risking jail time.

Something was wrong with the country when honest folks were starving and the crooks were getting rich. When the mayor walked by your bar to buy some 'hooch' from a Hupmobile.

Something had to be done. We couldn't see Charlie lose everything. We couldn't stand by and watch that Roberts kid from over tracks buy his way into society.

Drastic times call for drastic measures.

And that Roosevelt fellow; he says he'll give us back our beer. Consequences be damned. I'm voting for the Democrat.

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