Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Seventy-five Years of Just Saying No to Prohibition

December 5th marks the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition.

You can start celebrating (in 1920s costumes) on December 4th at Cole's, which hosts a fundraiser for the L.A. Conservancy--but you should reserve seats in advance ($25 each, more here). On the 5th, go to The Edison (but turn your speakers down) to celebrate with Miles Mosley (and turn your speakers up). At midnight, there will be a toast--no doubt a sloppy and inebriated-but-sincere toast--to the Women's Temperance League.

Actually you can celebrate at The Edison on December 4th as well, because on Thursdays they offer certain cocktails at 1910 prices (thirty-five cents between 5 & 7 pm). 108 West 2nd St, #101. (Thank you to Natalie at the Liquid Muse for pointing all this out.)

As for our own Los Angeles Times, the paper carried a warning to revelers on December 5, 1933, straight from Sacramento and the head of the DMV, one Theodore Roche: California automobile drivers were to exercise "their newfound liberties with sanity and wisdom." The LA City Council, expecting a rowdy night of parties when liquor became legal again, raised the fines for DUI, or whatever it was called , from $50 to $500. Police Chief Davis urge his officers to be especially vigilant and quick to arrest drunks before they could endanger life and property.

However, by December 6th the paper reported that while "hundreds of gallons of wines, whisky, brandy and other strong liquors were rushed to more than 10,000 retailers in Southern California," the anticipated celebration never materialized. LA ushered in repeal not with a bang, but with a tepid "rah" and a "lack of zealous appreciation" for the newly-legal spirits. There were 87 drunk arrests (11 involved driving), but that, apparently, was the norm even during Prohibition.

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