By any other name

Not to put too fine a spin on it, but, there’s a lot of jargon for illegal alcohol during Prohibition: hooch, horse liniment, coffin varnish, gigglewater (no, JK Rowling did not invent this term), brown plaid, busthead, moonshine, panther piss, skee, rot gut, white lightening… Well, you get the picture.

One thing they have in common, though, is their danger. Continue reading

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Too Close to Home

How’s that for a headline? ‘SCARFACE AL’ SURRENDERS
Capone articleOn March 21, 1930, this headline topped most newspapers. After all, Al Capone was “Public Enemy Number 1”.

Not that there weren’t other big name gangsters: Bugsy Siegel (New York), Nucky Johnson (New Jersey), Harry Rosen (Philly)… And the one that worried Rose (and Harold) the most: Tom Dennison.

Poor Harold. He has gotten himself mixed up with Dennison’s minions so you can bet that seeing a headline like this March 21 banner was, to say the least, worrisome.

What? You say you don’t know who this Tom Dennison character is?

Well, it turns out that Omaha, Nebraska was a hotbed of bootleg liquor, illegal gambling, and ladies of questionable virtue. And they all answered to the beck and call of Tom Dennison.

It was this tiny bit of trivia that I stumbled over one day during genealogy research that sparked my imagination.

What if a poor farmer loses everything he has saved when the bank closes after the Stock Crash of 1929?

And what if, in desperation to save his farm, he gets involved with a local bootlegging kingpin who puts him in harm’s way?

And what if, in trying to save his farm, he risks losing everything that is important to him?

Yeah, I’d say this headline was a bit too close to home for Harold’s liking.

On Death

Pardon me while I get maudlin…

Yesterday, I read this in the 1930 diary I have: Had 16 little piglets today, but the old mother laid on 4 and killed them.

This made me sad. Especially if you’ve seen the cute piglet pictures I posted here. But it also got me thinking about how common death is, especially on a farm. And especially in the 1930s.

Well, it’s not a giant leap from cute piggies dying to human mortality… Continue reading