What a fantastic image: a tower of empty beer crates at the Schoenhofen Brewery in 1933, waiting to be filled at the repeal of Prohibition. This implies that Schoenhofen must have been one of the few Chicago breweries that refrained from surreptitiously continuing to brew and sell beer during Prohibition. Because the city never came close to going dry.
I'm just finishing up Sherwood Anderson's "Kit Brandon" right now (I'm selling a signed first edition of it at my website next week), which really lays out the realities of Prohibition in a way that I've never seen it talked about before. Turns out that most people never really believed that liquor would be done away with totally through the law; instead, the hope was that liquor would become so rare and expensive that poor people would not have access to it, and Prohibition's main goal was to get liquor out of the hands of just poor people (or at least this is why most middle-classers voted to support the amendment). What no one realized was how scarily effective organized bands of criminals would get at setting up sophisticated corporate structures to their operations, so that they could quickly and easily produce, bottle and nationally distribute thousands of gallons of cheap grain alcohol, thus making Prohibition completely fail at its purpose. It's a fascinating book; and I know you're a fan of Anderson, so I encourage you to check it out sometime if you never have.
Posted by: Jason Pettus at Nov 9, 2012 10:52:51 AM
That's an interesting take on what I've always seen as a puzzling subject. Though instead of a novel like Anderson's (I loved Winesburg but haven't read anything else of his), I think I'll first read something like Daniel Okrent's "Last Call", which I've heard great things about.
Posted by: Pete at Nov 10, 2012 6:16:44 AM