Sunday, February 10, 2008

When Barrels of Rum Were On Sidewalks and Water Was Free

I was browsing my YouTube subscriptions this morning (I'm pretty sure I have a life) and came across a wonderful clip, courtesy of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network. I tried to explain Neal Dow's significance last month, but I should've just referred you to this excellent video.

I particularly enjoyed Robert Quantrano's observations that every establishment (shoe shop, barber shop, meat market, candle shop, etc.) had a barrel of liquor in front of it. And the footage of a man desperately sponging the spilled alcohol from the street's gutter was hilarious. And, of course, this video just wouldn't be the same without Bill Barry's bushy Fu Manchu.

The stories about families being thrown out of their homes and lacking the basic necessities because the man of the family had "drunk up all the money" reminded me of this quote from another Maine prohibitionist, John Neal: "Drinking water neither makes a man sick, nor in debt, nor his wife a widow."

Obviously Mr. Neal wasn't alive when a bottle of Poland Spring water was going for a couple bucks.

- John C.L. Morgan

P.S. Next year's Neal Dow Pub Crawl is scheduled for Friday, January 16. I thought I'd give everyone plenty of time to prepare.

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