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On January 16, 1919, Congress passed the 18th Amendment, prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol.  Although this was meant to end, among other things, drunkenness and crime, it actually had the reverse effect.  Organized crime rose, along with the number of private illegal stills.

My great-uncle Oscar was no exception.  His oldest son recalls the family cat staggering around after lapping up some of the spillage from his dad’s still.

Oscar’s sister, Rena, drank so much bootleg whiskey, the next morning she woke up in a panic, because she couldn’t feel one of her legs.  Looking down, she realized she had put both legs into one pant leg of her pajamas. 

For better or worse, alcohol was always part of the social scene, and the public’s resentment at resorting to the neighborhood speakeasy or bathtub gin continued to grow.  After thirteen years, everyone had had enough.  During his run for Presidency, one of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s platforms was the repeal of Prohibition.  The ratification of the 21st Amendment on December 5, 1933 ended the Prohibition Era. 

Are there any stories in your family about the Prohibition Era?

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