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September 11, 1986     The Ponchatoula Times
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September 11, 1986

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PROHIBITION 00r'h " eNoble Experiment "The Noble Experiment" Prohibition Jan. 16, 1917 to Dec. 5, 1933. The Volstead Act 1919 to 1920 "They (English people) entered the prison of Puritanism and had the key turned upon their spirit there for two hundred years." Matthew Arnold "The founding of the Women's Temperance Union and the Anti-Saloon League before the close of the Nineteenth Century gave the drys a disciplined army ready to exploit the American people in the Interests of their chosen reform. The refusal of the liquor industry to regulate the saloon of its own accord, plus the national psyche created by the First World War were aumclent to give victory to the Prohibitionistsf" Andrew Sinclair The American people worried over Prohibition, Catholicism, fundamentalism, immigration and, finally, the growing power of the cities. These worries lay under the surface of all political conflicts. The western frontier was the American Dream but dreams are not seen in their everyday dreariness and dullness, lowa in less than a hundred years had more than two thousand deserted settlements. The rural radicals rarely admitted the guilty truth, that their plundering of the land, on top of heavy borrowing from Eastern banks, had caused much of their suffering which they tried to blame on others. The sectors of Prohibition sentiment were the areas where the Methodists and Baptist churches had their greatest strength, the heart of the Klu Klux Klan territory. The pillars of Prohibition were the Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians and congregational churches aided by the smaller Disciples of Christ, Christian Science and Mormon religious groups. Not all of the churches cooperated with the drys. The Episcopal and Lutheran churches never gave them more than tepid support, while the Jewish and Catholic churches on the whole opposed Prohibition and supported temperance. The claim of the Anti-saloon League that it represented the majority of the American people was false. Fear of the political power of the League was so widespread among congressmen, that according to the newspaper Washington Times the Eighteenth Amendment could not have passed if a secret vote had been taken. The open vote laid open the names of the congressmen voting against it. The League swore revenge. They now turned to Protestant marching songs written during the Reformation, such as "The saloon must go." I stand for Prohibition the utter demolition Of all this curse of misery and woe; complete extermination, Entire annihilation. The saloon must go. The causes for advancing prohibition were: (1) The First World War, (2) the voting emancipation of women, (3) a half century of campaigning by prohibi- tionists, religious and lay, (4) the moral climate of the time, (5) rural paranoia about urban expansion. The Eighteenth Amendment to the UtS. Constitution banning the manufacturing, sale, and transportation of liquor sailed through Congress in December 1917 but did not take effect until January 16, 1920. The required 36 of the 48 states had approved it. To fill the gap (January 1917 to January 16, 1920) the unconstitutional amended Volstead Act was passed over r',4ent Woodward Wilson's veto. The amended Volstead Act legalized the ,,,ufacture of industrial alcohol by federal permits but the use of beverage alcohol was restricted to doctors' patients, communicants at religious service and ,akers of vinegar and cider. It went into effect January 16, 1920. The new law amed after Congressman Andrew J. Volstead, a Minnesota Republican stated, "The law does regulate morality and has regulated morality since ses and the Ten Commandments. President Wilson was blamed by the misin- ed for the passage through Congress of the Eighteenth Amendment ective Jan. 1920) as well as the stopgap Volstead Act that he vetoed as unconstitutional. The dry lobby used the war as a lever to pass these two laws. The amendment oassed the Senate 65 to 20 and the House 282 to 128. "Law is whatever Is boldly asserted and plausibly maintained." Aaron Burr." "Now let them enforce it." Andrew Jackson "Nothing can be more certain, that numerous written laws are a sign of a degenerate community, and are frequently not the consequence of vicious morals In a state but the causes." Oliver Goldsmith President Wilson vetoed the Volstead Act amendments October 27, 1919 but the House and the Senate reacted by immediately overriding his veto. THE PATRIOT'S PRA YER Now I lay me down to sleep -- My life limb may (Pres.) Hoover keep. And may no Coast Guard cutter shell this little home I love so well. May no dry agent, shotting wild, molest mine wife and infant child, Or searching out some secret still, bombard my home to maim and kill. When dawn succeeds the gleaming stars, may we devoid of wounds and scars. Give thanks we didn't fall before the shots in the Prohibition War. Arthur Llppmann President Hoover reckoned later that the federal government could not have come anywhere near enforcing Prohibition with a police force of less than a quarter of a million men. Prohibition could not be enforced in large urban areas unless vast sums were appropriated by the legislatures for the purpose, and no legislature in the United States would do this. In Massachusetts the chief Prohibition officer raided a Republican party where liquor was being served: His own superior officer was there and zealous subordinate was removed for his pains. There were five principal sources of illegal liquor: imported, diverted industrial alcohol, moonshine, illicit beer and wine. The production of beer and wine _(homebrew) in the home decentralized the production of liquor to .... , ' ,xtent LADIES (AND GENTELMEN) J TWO YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY 955 E. Pine Custom Dual Exhaust All parts muffler and labor $30 Broke Job Special Front or Rear $49" FREE, I Pickup & Delivery 386-2709 PONcHAToULA PART ONE Copyright 1986, B. Vincent McMahon that enforcement became impossible. The busiest smuggling area was Deh'oit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario (Canada). Conservative estimates from Canadian authorities showed that more than $40 million worth of booze was being shipped across the border, mainly through the Detroit Windsor tunnel ("Funnel"). Graft averaging two million dollars a week brought immunity for liquor traders. Thar's gold in them thar mountains, Thar's gold in them that hills: The natives that are getting it By operating stills. Old jalopies were used to haul liquor across the winter ice on the Detroit River in broad daylight with car doors swinging open. In case the ice broke the driver would then jump out. Mother makes brandy from cherries: Pop distills whiskey and gin: Sister sells wine from grapes on our vine-- Good grief how the money rolls in. "1 make my money by supplying a public demand. If i break the law, my customers, who number the best of people in Chicago, are as guilty as ! am. The only difference is that l sell and they buy, everybody calls me a racketeer. I call myself a business man. When i sell liquor it is bootlegging. When my patrons serve on a tray on Lakeshore Drive, It's hospitality." AI Capone. "O to hell with them Sicilians." Dealt O'Bannon. Gangs and crime syndicates did not originate with Prohibition but rose to power in the saloons, gambling dens and brothels of the Nineteenth Century. They were aided and abetted by the murderous wars between labor and capital in the days of the trust barons. The simultaneous inventions of Automobiles, Thompson machine guns, and telephones, gave the underworld means to extend their control over whole states. To finance this operation they needed a cash flow that Prohibition speedily provided with its illegal liquor trade. At the time of the struggle to consolidate Capone's power in Chicago (the Irish gangs prevented them from obtaining a monopoly) there were between 300 to 400 murders annually. Chicago was the county seat of Cook County, which averaged 100 bombings a year. At a conclave of major racketeers in Atlantic City, New Jersey they parcelled out their territories with individual monopolistic powers. The Irish gangs in New York, Chicago, and St. Louis blocked this scheme there and in other cities where they were in power. The New Italian empire established at Atlantic City immediately tried to take over, setting up a bloody war that forced a settlement. The New York Mafia gang consisted of Frank Costello, Frankie Yale, Larry Fay, Dutch Schultz and Owen Madden. Philadelphia was assigned to Maxie Haft, Detroit to the Purple Gang, Cincinnati and St. Louis to the old Remus mob, Kansas City to Sc;lly Weissman and the major part of Chicago to AI Capone. Unattached hoodlums were rubbed out by organized gangs or by the police. This was the Mafia blueprint, but it was never fully carried out. The most notorious connection to big business by gangsters was through Harry Bennet's Ford Motor Co. Service Department. This was the largest private army in the United States. Bennet's partner was Chester Lamare, head of the Detroit underworld who was later assassinated by rival gangsters. At this time there were over eight thousand men employed in Ford Plants with criminal records whom Harry Bennet bragged he was rehabilitating. These were Ford's slave drivers, speeding up the assembly lines at an inhuman rate. "AI Capone came to see me. He came to the dock, to the Mexico import dock (at Belle River, Ontario), and he asked if there were anybody that could handle that stuff for him, and I was the only one that could. I mean Capone was getting the stuff by boats...But he wanted the stuff eueryday by plane. I was the only one that could give him that...Listen, I am king. I (Blaise Diesbourg) am king of Canadu and you don't fool with me. (If you do) the first thing your goose is cooked. He says he fs Al Capons from Chicago. Another time the pilot said, "Capone wants you to come to Chicago" so I climbed in the plane and went with him to Sportsman Park Racetrack in Chicago and he was there, Capone that is, with his big car. I got in with him. He had three motorcycles armed with machine guns, three motorcycles in .front, three in back and we had nine miles to go to the place, The Fort. So Capone says, 'I want to show you a good time tonight.' "We started drinking, and he had about fifty girls ... about sixteen and seventeen, oh a beautiful show! He put on a beautiful show! All dancing and euerything, I got drunk and forgot where I was, well the next morning...The fellow was sitting on the chair. I was just lying in the bed there. He says to me to get up. He was sitting there with a machine gun in his hands and he tapped me on the shoulder. "Come on," he says, "Put your pants on, the engine is going in the field, you got to get back." "I had a gang in Detroit I used to deal with. They were called the Purple Gang, you know. Oh, now they were tough, but they didn't bother me. I knew the Licauolis, now they had a gang over there too (Detroit). Now they say they were part of the Purple Gang, you know, but not true. No, they were worse. There was two of them ... the two Licavolis. Peter and Tom. An elderly Jewish merchant on Hastings Street (Detroit) bearing of petty crimes by young Jewish hoodlums, gave them their name: "They're a bad lot, off color from other fine boys their own age, _they're purple." The gang's early leaders included Harry Milliman, Eddie Fletcher, Abe Axler and Irving Milllrg, and all but Millberg died with their boots on. He died in the slammer November 1929. Morris Raider was sentenced to twelve to fifteen years in Jackson State Prison for shooting a boy. He was suspected of spying on members of the Purples. This shooting provoked an outbreak of gang war between the Purples andthe little Jewish navy that hauled liquor from Canada to Detroit for the Purples. This led several Purples to ambush three leading members of the little navy at the Collinwood Manor Apartments in Detroit and mow them down in what the news- papers called "The Collinwood Massacre" in November 1931. Ray Bernstien, Irving Milburg, and Harry Keywell were found guilty of first degree murder in the case and sentenced to life imprisonment. Between 1929 and 1933 while the remaining members of the Purple Gang were taken for one way rides. Their deaths broke the power of the Purple Gang. The Purples at this period entered a cleaners and dryers war with two roprietors killed and numerous shops bombed for protection money. The icavoli brothers, hearing of money in Detroit, together with Frank Cammaruata, after serving an apprenticeship with a terrible St. Louis Gang of Irish hoodlums, migrated to Detroit. They were so tough in St. Louis, according to one of their alumni 1 met in Detroit, they drove Ai Capone out of Missouri. They later turned to bank robbery, making the James boys look like pikers. The two gangs fought for dominance in Detroit during Prohibition, resulting in several open wars and slayings. A sort of combination Father Coughlin, Walter Harry Lavine supporters rally Rep. Dennis Hebert, Stanley Cowen, Phil Alexander, Darrell Adams and a host of other supporters rallied around candidate Harry Lavine on Saturday in the Blue Room. A Jambalaya and sauce .o piquante dinner was enjoyed by backers of the parish presidential candidate up for election on the September 27 ballot. (Tim Photo) THE PONCHATOULA TIMES, SEPTEMBER 11, 1986, SEC. B., PAGE By B. VINCENT McMAHOH Exclusive to The Times Winchell and Gerall K. Smith arose in the Twenties. Gerald Buckley, a turned muckrackinq radio commentator. He had a terrific sway over sick of gangland slaughter. One of the teaching sisters of the Immaculate flnb religious order who taught me said her younger brothers and their ed off their evenings by going to the Detroit morgue where the showed the kids the bodies of the latest gang victims. Jerry Buckley's hands were not clean. In 1927 he defended Commarata and the two Llcavolis and then cheated them out of an underworld $25,000 fund. September 1930 the trio were released from Canada's Penitentiary. A couple nights later Jerry Bucidey was shot to death sitting in ]obbyof the downtown LaSalle Hotel on Woodward Ave., Detroit. and Frank Commarata were arrested but Yonnle took it on the lain. Angus Munro, a columnist with the Windsor Star (Ontario, Canada) wrote: "Gentry of this (the l..icavoit) stripe always went about their chores armed. It wa more practical. The era in which they flourished was one which held life Rival gangsters declared open season on each other the year round. For as as $54)0 one could get one's competitor in business 'rubbed out'.' "The history of Prohibition and crime shows how the tolerance towards crlminab by respectable labor and capital allowed gangsters to over local government, as Capone did the municlvalltv of the small town Cicero. Even state governments. The loot of Prohibition was sufficient buy Judges, state attorneys and whole police departments, it enabled gangsters to spread thebr Influence into new areas of legitimate They were -Iiowed to terrorize so much that no Chicago Jury would verdict of murder against a gunman, because of fear." Andrew If the speakeasy was spawned by Prohibition and economic boom, it doomed by repeal and slump. The blind pig proprietors complained they lived in fear of federal raids, or holdups by gangsters, and of the padlocking the total loss of their investment, the costs of running a speakeasy in New City were estimated at $1,379.00 a month. This included $400.00 of to law enforcement agencies, such as the Prohibition Bureau, the departments, the district attorneys. The beat cop collected another $40 each the beer was delivered. The speakeasy was primarily for the middle class Prohibition popularized a drink that had hitherto only been served in only smartest of the saloons, the cocktail. It was the rapid spread of drinking by rich Americans to the leisured classes and the young after the Great War that made Prohibition a Novels, films, the radio, magazines, newspapers, all propagated the creed drinking was considered to be smart in the best society. CONTINUED VISIONS Public Television French Language Broadcasts Sunday, September 14 1:00-1:30 p.m. 1:30-2:00 p.m. EN FRANCAIS "Profil de la Paraoisse des Avoyelles," Part 2. Judge Earl Edwards narrates the history of the Avoyelles. Also, a visit to the Hypollte Bordelon House and the town of Marksvdle. (Rerun) IMAGES DU MONDE FRANCOPHONE "Un Portait-Luc LaFortune, aussi Marin." This is a portrait of one of five crew members who sailed Quebec's official catamarin l,twe St. Malo and Montreal for the 450th celebration of Jacques Cartier. (Rerun) HAMMOND'S N E W SNAPPER DEALER HI-VAI: RIDER 0100 8NE YEAR Imtmo INmFORmmCL SNAPPER's Hi-Vac e rider changes with the seasons. 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