Prohibition II

I received some very troubling news in good ‘ol NYC today girls. Metronorth is doing away with the “bar car”. The last one rolls out of Grand Central this evening at 7.

The bar car was just like the name suggests – a train car designed for and dedicated to serving drinks. And they were popular. Well, at least among those who… don’t like to be thirsty. People would jam themselves into this modified train car for the purpose of imbibing shoulder to shoulder while hauling ass out of the city at 80 miles per hour in not much more than a large sewer pipe with wheels.

Sure, the death of the bar car doesn’t affect me directly – there was never a bar car on your father’s train line – but that’s not the point. This just puts us one step closer to prohibition. So I want to prepare you girls for when that becomes the case. Just so it comes as no surprise when that day comes: daddy is going underground. Yup, I’ll be on the fermented side of the law.

Let’s start with some history. In the interest of getting to the point I may skip over a few, minor details.

Alcohol has been around since the beginning of man. At some point it came to the US aboard a ship – it was impossible in those days to set sail sober. Only a drunk could be trusted to blaze a trail straight for the edge of a very flat earth. Once the US was born we saw the need for some very basic laws and constitutional amendments- the first ten of which clarified some individual rights – essentially protecting people from government intrusions. I won’t bore you with them because most of them are gone now – though I believe they are still written down somewhere. But picture a time when people could arm themselves for protection and not worry about government taking their property. Oh, and you could do it all while sloshed up. Those were the days. Then came various other amendments to the Constitution – like abolishing slavery. Things went well between amendments 11 and 17 until, in 1919, someone got the bright idea that sobriety was the answer to our prayers. On January 17th, 1920 the 18th amendment prohibited the manufacture or sale of alcohol in the US. Yup, we came right off the stuff.  Stopped cold turkey.

This went on for a few years and boy was it an interesting time- corruption, organized crime, and violence were rampant, but that was neither here nor there- the real thorn in the government’s side was the loss of a fantastic source of tax revenue. It sure didn’t take long to realize they may have jumped the gun on this. Interestingly, during this period of sobriety and US mental clarity, amendment 19 was born – giving women the right to vote.

In 1933, after a long and painful hangover, the trusty US did what any good alcoholic would do after 13 years without a drink- it fell off the wagon. The 21st amendment repealed the 18th – and with that, we were right back on the sauce (and the government was taxing the hell out of yet another of our many pleasures).

So, while the repeal of prohibition did not overturn the amendment that gave women the right to vote that we conjured up during our sober stint, it did forever secure a woman’s right to drunk-text (and pass out with her skirt hiked up to her chest).

As you can see it was a very dark time for America. But those that were prepared made out like bandits. Your father is no slouch girls- I’m ready to capitalize on this. I could run rum with the best of them. The loss of the bar car may not mean another prohibition amendment is right around the corner (fun fact: it would be the 28th) but it pays to be prepared. So, starting this weekend we will have some lessons together- just a dad and his girls brushing up on their bootlegging. This week: fitting a super-charged Cadillac V-8 ambulance engine into a 1940 Ford Coupe. Next week: protecting the still- leaf cover, trip wires, and large caliber firearms.

Oh, and remind me to ask your great grandmother if she has any tips for making moonshine- I’m sure there is a 3 by 5 card with something we could use neatly tucked in between her rhubarb pie and zucchini bread recipes.

“Nope, nothing going on here Sergeant – just a few friends gathering in the basement – we’ll let ya know if we hear of any chicanery – have a good night now sir and our regards to the Inspector…”

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