Learn about Life in the 1920s

1922 Article in Defense of Prohibition

Much has been written about the ineffectiveness of prohibition. What has been overlooked are the success stories like the following:

IN a city located in northern Michigan with a population numbering between fourteen and fifteen thousand there were before the advent of prohibition sixty-five saloons, all doing a flourishing business. The major portion of them were little other than "hell-holes." In that part of the country it is customary to pay the men their wages semi-monthly, with the result that with the advent of each pay day we were forced to prepare for at least two days' operations shorthanded, for a large percentage of our men would be incapacitated by drink. This was a pretty general condition among the workers in those parts. With the coming of prohibition this ended and stayed ended; and in its place came better clothes for the wives and families, phonographs, player-pianos, etc. (taking the place of whisky jugs and beer bottles), a large increase in attendance at the moving-picture houses, and many families buying Fords, and in a great many cases better cars.

Take again, as example, a small village in central New York State. This village before the coming of prohibition was more or less distinguished for the amount of drunkenness and unpaid bills which, taken together, sadly detracted from the merits of an otherwise beautiful town. It is now, under prohibition, a much more prosperous little town, still maintaining its original beauty, and with the added blessing of a main street free from drunks. I might add that they are seen occasionally; but where it used to be ten quarts of whisky to one phonograph record, one might be safe in saying it is now ten phonograph records to one drink of a concoction called whisky behind somebody's door.

The writer has always used liquor moderately, and has seen its use and abuse, with all the attendant suffering and unhappiness; has seen it lead clean characters into vice; and also on occasion seen it change a dull evening into a decent and enjoyable one. He has seen it at its work in two-thirds of the States in our Union, and is not hypocritical enough to try and convince any one that there are not occasions when he would like to fall back in something a little stronger than reminiscence; but, not being selfish, and believing that, after all, there are only a few of us who really miss it, he says to them and with them: Let us be broad-minded regarding this subject, acknowledge the good that the masses are deriving under prohibition at the present time, the greater good our posterity will derive, and if we who still look back upon the time when we could, under the law, take our glass must suffer the deprivation for our few remaining years, let us be men and make the sacrifice. Live as well as talk morals, and back up prohibition in the knowledge of the good we know it is doing.

Source: The Outlook 1922




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