Aside

Cheers!

Memorial Day weekend is upon us. And chances are your plans involve an adult beverage. Or two.

If that’s the case, how about taking a moment or two to thank the resourceful bootleggers of the 1920s for the cocktail that you’re mixing. After all, it’s because of them, and the fact that their alcohol was often sub-par and bitter, that cocktails became trendy in the first place.

I’ll wait while you get your Gin Rickey ready…

Gin Rickey1920s Gin Rickey

Squeeze the juice of one-half lime into a highball glass, then drop the lime shell in the glass. Add two ounces gin, then fill with ice. Top with the sparkling mineral water and stir.

*if you want to make your rickey a bit more patriotic, add a few blueberries and swap out the decorative mint for a flag

 

Okay. Everybody ready? Rickey’s up… and Cheers! Have a great Memorial Day weekend.

 

Engine Boring Displacem… zzzzz

Oh. Sorry. I dozed off there.

Maybe that should be Boring Engine instead of Engine Boring? Research takes you down some interesting rabbit holes (like this little tidbit about housework and good posture) and some not so exciting ones. Engine boring displacement, in case you weren’t sure, falls into the latter. (Unless you’re into NASCAR.)

But, when writing about bootlegging, and your main character is a crack mechanic, it just makes sense Continue reading

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.

Bootlegging

verb (used without object), bootlegged, bootlegging:
to make, transport, or sell something, especially liquor, illegally or without registration or payment of taxes.

I had the chance to pitch my story to some friends the other day. But as soon as bootlegging was mentioned, a listener said, “Oh! So NASCAR fans will love it.”

It was a depressing moment, Continue reading