Long Time Gone and Power of Media in Deciding What Narrative is True


By Betsy Barnett

August 10, 2022

Prohibition is a topic that is barely remembered among citizens of the United States unless they are fans of mobster movies such as Bonnie & Clyde, The Untouchables and Scarface.

Prohibition banned the sale of alcohol in the United States, and it was ratified in 1919 with the passing of the Eighteenth Amendment. It was thought at that time, particularly with members of the temperance movement, that banning the sale of alcohol would fix poverty and other societal problems. The amendment did not actually outlaw the consumption of alcohol, but rather it declared the production, transport and sale of intoxicating liquors illegal. After ratifying the Eighteenth Amendment Congress passed the Volstead Act that provided for the federal enforcement of Prohibition.

Prohibition lasted from 1919 to 1933 and during those years the amendment proved to do exactly the opposite of what the temperance movement had predicted. Crime soared and organized criminal syndicates were formed that would smuggle alcohol to all points of the country and beyond. Many got rich and many more ended up in prison over the government control of alcohol.

By 1933, Prohibition was overturned with the passing of the Twenty-first Amendment.

However, prior to the topic of Prohibition getting so heated in 1919 the federal government actually looked the other way in the sale and use of alcohol as there was a tax on the substance that went directly into the country’s coffers. When the income tax came into existence in 1913, the government was less supportive of alcohol sale and distribution because of its negative connotations and the fact that they had now found another way to bring money in. This attitude began the demise of alcohol use across the country.

Also, during those early years prior to 1919, Kansas was considered a dry state where alcohol was not allowed, and Colorado was a wet state, but certain areas could have their own ordinances. This fact began to cause Kiowa County a whole lot of trouble and things came to a boiling point in the county late in 1913 as the attitude towards alcohol negatively shifted.

Just as we see today with controversial subjects, the newspaper took a position and helped to make sure alcohol was no longer welcome in Kiowa County and anyone who stood in the gap on the subject were—well—cancelled by 1913 standards.

BLAIR PUTS ON THE LID

Kiowa County Press, December 5, 1913

Eads, Colo., Nov. 28, 1913

To John W. Blair, Sheriff of Kiowa County, Colo.

“We the undersigned citizens of Kiowa County, Colorado, hereby petition your honorable self to proceed at once to stop the illegal sale of intoxicating liquors in Kiowa County. We would ask that neither 2 per cent nor drinks of a kindred nature be sold. We also ask that gambling and gaming devices be barred from the pool halls and elsewhere in the county and that all minors be barred from entering the pool halls.”

Last Thursday afternoon the petition above was started in Eads and Saturday noon the same was handed to Sheriff Blair and in fifteen minutes the lid was on solid and secure so far as Eads is concerned. He went to Galatea Monday and fitted the same kind of lid, and the same process was administered at Chivington Tuesday, Arlington a day or so later. Mr. Blair says that these violations must cease at once or prosecution will follow, and we know he means to do just what he says. Those who have been violating the law will bear in mind that the tendency is not to prosecute if the provisions of this petition are observed to the very letter in the future.

Fully nine-tenths of the people of Eads and a number from the country signed this petition and signed with such earnestness that we wonder why this was not looked after sooner. We only heard of one fellow who offered any argument in favor of leaving conditions as they were, but we venture he now wishes that he hadn’t produced that argument.

Yes, the sentiment is unanimous at Eads, and we believe the same sentiment prevails throughout the county and if anyone is disposed to violate in these particulars in the future he had better watch out as many eyes will be upon him.

A similar petition came in from Arlington Wednesday morning and the same contained 50 or more names.

AN APOLOGY

Kiowa County Press, December 12, 1913

In view of the fact that one Percy Devereux (Note: Devereux was the local pool hall owner) thinks that we said more than we should have said in last week’s issue in regard to closing the joints we hasten to offer the following apology:

Now Mr. Devereux, we don’t remember using your name in connection with what we said last week and lest this is the reason you are offended we take particular pains this time to leave no doubt in your mind that you are the fellow we mean. Had you not been a violator of the law in these particulars, Mr. Devereux, there probably would have been no reason for us to have said anything on this subject and no reason for you being offended at what we did say.

If our information is correct, you were the first fellow to begin violating the law in the way of selling booze to both minors and grownups and to foster gambling in which you also allowed minor to engage. Seems that we have heard of an instance where a fellow was compelled to begin the selling of beer to keep you from taking all his trade away from him. Strange, that all others engaged in this business, seem glad to close, that you whom we consider the Arch Violator would put up a pitiful wail and tell what you will do if we say anything about it in the paper. Don’t say these things. They scare us.

We believe you are competent to earn a livelihood in a legitimate way and don’t like your disposition to infer that we should not object to your keeping gambling houses and booze joints for the benefit of our boys.

Hope that any further apology will be unnecessary.

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