Friday, December 6, 2013

EightyYears Ago

There are so many attempts today by the government to intrude on our lives -- to tell us what we can and cannot do -- that it's sometimes easy to forget this is not a modern phenomenon. Perhaps the most egregious example of government intrusion in our nation's history was Prohibition.

The eighteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting the production, transport, and sale of alcoholic beverages took effect on January 17, 1920. After many years of unintended consequences, including the normalization of widespread disregard for federal law and the institutionalization of organized crime, America came to its senses and passed the the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, repealing the eighteenth. (FYI, Amendment 20 gave women the right to vote and #21 changed the effective dates of terms for the President, Vice President, and members of Congress.)

 Yesterday -- December 5, 2013 -- was 80th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. To me, the most notable thing about Prohibition is how long it lasted: from January 1920 until December 1933. That's damn near fourteen years - one hell of a long time to go without a beer!

 Not that, in practice, people went without their booze.
Excitement — mixed with apprehension — filled the streets of San Antonio on Dec. 5, 1933, the day national Prohibition was repealed.

San Antonio's storied Esquire Tavern opened as a bar on that very day.

The bar celebrated its 80th birthday...Thursday.

It had been operating at the same location it has now at 155 E. Commerce St. as a restaurant, yet somehow it was able to open as a bar immediately.

(Lore has it — and common sense would dictate — that it already was operating as a speakeasy.)

“For the first time in 14 years, bourbon and other bonded hard liquors were being served openly, though somewhat sporadically, to thirsty San Antonians in downtown establishments,” according to a Dec. 6, 1933, report in the San Antonio Light.

In 80 years of dark, booze-filled nights, plenty of tales have been crafted about the bar. It has acquired quite a reputation as a rough-and-tumble watering hole, and not all of its clientele exists in this dimension.

Although he's never experienced paranormal activity himself, some of (the bar's) employees were sure there were ghosts.

Then there's the whole size thing.

At one time, the original 80-foot bar was considered the longest in Texas. It was recorded by Ripley's Believe It or Not in 1988 as the longest bar in Texas, holding 5,973 Lone Star longnecks on its wooden top.
That's a lot of beer.

I've had a few there, but nothing near 5,973. And I've never seen any ghosts, although I have seen my share of scary sights (including an ex-wife or two).

in any event, go here for some examples of laws that might have sounded great on paper, but that ignored human nature. The lesson to be learned is that it's extremely difficult to regulate human behavior matter how much Big Brother thinks it's in our best interest...

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