Americans could start saying goodbye to all the years of machine gun murders, prohibition bribery, and poisonous booze
The “dry era” was not yet completely over – only 19 states and Washington DC had proclaimed liquor legal – but the “great thirst”, as this newspaper branded it, was about to be legally quenched after 14 years of Prohibition. Thousands of barrels of beer were waiting for the first second after midnight on April 6 to be opened and start a celebration that was a mixture of Mardi Gras, the fourth of July and even Armistice Day back in 1918. And with these, Americans could start saying goodbye to all the years of machine gun murders, prohibition bribery, and poisonous booze. Gangs had taken control of the trade shortly after the ban started in 1920; the state was deprived of an important source of revenue associated with the legal import and sale of alcohol, and society as a whole saw little improvement in illnesses, accidents and family violence associate with consumption. Overall, the attempt to erase alcohol in America went bloody wrong.
State by state, legislators were supporting the 21st amendment of the Constitution that overruled the 18th, which established Prohibition. Chicago newspapers from a city so much associated with the gangs and the violence which the “dry era” produced, were reporting on the supply situation: “Bountiful stocks of domestic wines, a fair supply, particularly in hotel stocks, of imported wines, more than enough of domestic gin and blended bourbon, and ’adequate’ stocks of bonded bourbon and imported scotch are reported in the city. It will require several weeks for importers of European beer of more than 3.2 strength to catch up with orders.”
And concerning prices, only a slight increase in comparison with pre-prohibition figures but much cheaper than the bootleg stuff during Prohibition. A bottle of Champagne, for instance, which fetched 4.50 dollars before Prohibition, and which rose to 15 dollars during the “dry era”, was expected to be sold at between 5 and 9 dollars now. A glass of Scotch whisky would sell for 25 to 50 cents, compared with just 15 cents before and 75 cents during Prohibition.
And among the new regulations for selling liquor, the new law said that “no retail liquor establishment is allowed within 100 feet (30 metres) of any church, school, hospital, home for the aged or indigent, or veterans, or military or naval station”.
But the city was big enough to accommodate bars and saloons where booze was finally legal.
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Chicago Daily Tribune