Monday, September 03, 2012

Welcome To Weirdsville: Sweet, Sweet Death

(from Meine Keine Fabrik)

Here's a fun little piece from Welcome To Weirdsville that answers the age-old question "Does molasses run in January?"  Alas, the answer is yes ... and tragically...

Sweet, Sweet Death

"Tell me, what was 15 feet high, moved at 35 miles-per-hour, and killed 21 people in 1919?"

"I don't know, Mr. Bones, what WAS 16 feet high, moved at 35 miles-per-hour, and killed 21 people in 1919?"

"Well, before I tell ya, I'm going to first have to tell you about the sweet brown liquor called rum."

No, before you ask, an elephant didn't get smashed and went on a killing spree (though in another column I might talk about how Mary, a killer pachyderm, was lynched by a monster crane) – this is rather background on a certain gruesome catastrophe that, while unspeakably fatal, was also particularly – almost comically – unusual.

Not to blow the surprise, but if you happen to live in Boston, you might want to simply go onto the great fiction on this website. Your parents and grandparents have probably already spoken, with hushed seriousness, of this certain day – January 15, 1919 – though you may have replied, "Right, sure–"

Liquor has always been a big cash cow. It is with no exaggeration that businessmen have said that you can't go broke investing in sin – and an almost guarantee big seller has always been alcohol. Cheap materials, easy to produce, high profit margin, and with addicted consumers, booze is an entrepreneur's dream – especially in the years before 1919. But this was 1919, and a nightmare was lurking not too far away – a nightmare, that is, for those Americans who like a little sip now and again, and for the business that tried to meet that tipsy demand. In other words: Prohibition.


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