Tuesday, December 31, 2019

New Year’s Eve 1919

[“Hotels Anticipate Wet New Year Eve. They Prepare for an Old-Fashioned Celebration on a Generous Scale.” The New York Times, December 28, 1919.]

Prohibition in 1919? Yes. The Wartime Prohibition Act, meant to conserve grain, was passed on November 18, 1918, after the signing of the armistice. (An official end to the Great War was yet to come.) The act, which prohibited the sale of beverages with more than 1.28% alcohol (2.56 proof), went into effect on June 30, 1919. Two subheadlines from the Times article give an idea of what was to happen on the first dry New Year’s Eve: “To Invade Secret Caches,” and “Guests Will Take Their Liquors to Private Dining Rooms, for Which There Is Great Demand.” The Times reported that at one Manhattan hotel, “the flask party would be the most popular indoor sport.”

Brief items in the January 1, 1920 Times give an idea of what went on in other parts of the country. In Boston, “greater abandon of merrymaking.” In Philadelphia, “unlimited quantities of any drink ever seen here.” In Cincinnati, a “decidedly ‘wet’ celebration,” with the hip flask “much in abundance.” In Chicago, “large crowds who drank in wild revel,” aided by a legal ruling that provided a loophole for those drinking “on the hip.” In Milwaukee, where “beer cellars were depleted long ago,” champagne sold for $25 a quart. In New Orleans, restaurant customers “armed with their own liquor.” In St. Louis, “a wild night,” “with whisky in the lead.” And in Omaha, no cocktails, just “whiskey, brandy, gin, wine, home-brew stuffs and soft drinks.”

But in St. Paul, “little evidence of old-time frivolity.” Denver was “a drab affair.” San Francisco “found itself groping around in the gloom of a spiritless night.” And in Seattle, “less liquid cheer” than “at a Pilgrim Father’s barn raising.”

May 2020 be a year with greater reason for hope on Spaceship Earth. Happy New Year to all.

[Were those who drank from hip flasks hip? There appears to be no connection.]

comments: 4

Fresca said...

Happy New Year to you, Elaine, the Big Littles (grown children), and the Little Littles (grandchildren).
And all the astronauts on Spaceship Earth, yes indeed...

I'm looking forward to reading your take on the 2020 election season. You may be the only source of news I follow, due to Frayed Nerves.

On we go! XO Fresca

Michael Leddy said...

I’d hate to be anyone’s sole window on the world. But I’ll take the responsibility responsibly. :)

Fresca said...

Well, I do also get the weekly Economist...

Michael Leddy said...

That’ll be a good supplement.