Saturday, October 25, 2014

Paying The Beer Tax

Location:   New York City
Year:   1931

Ah, Prohibition!  The Eighteenth Amendment was easily the most violated law in American history. Everybody violated the Volstead Act, even Volstead. Besides mountain moonshiners and urban bathtub gin distillers, numberless speakeasies and blind pigs dotted the American map ("blind pigs" got their name because they exhibited odd animals --- one-armed monkeys, tailless raccoons, and blind pigs --- for a small fee.  Visitors were entitled to a free snort with their admission price. Since the hooch wasn't being sold, technically it wasn't illegal). 

Gentleman Jim. "Would you care for some tea with that tea, sir?"
Bob Hope as "Beau James"
When it came right down to it, there was nothing New York City's "Night Mayor" Jimmy Walker loved more than a good brouhaha unless it was a chorus girl. "Beau James" was a fierce opponent of Prohibition, and made no secret of it, taking on the stodgy Federal government and its ardent (and not so ardent) drys at every opportunity. Populist that he was, he supported the citizenry's right to knock a few back.  In 1932,  he organized a "We Want Beer" parade down Fifth Avenue in lieu of a dry Oktoberfest. And he made sure, quietly, that the people got what they wanted.

Here's a toast to raising taxes!  ;)
Walker maintained several secret stashes of expensive liquor  for his own use all around the city. Walker might not have known it, but he had a friend in FDR, who kept his own secret stashes in the White House, the Presidential retreat at Shangri-La (Camp David), and at his home, "Springwood" in New Hyde Park, New York.

Bottoms up!

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