Richard Bostwick Reminiscences

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Welfare Office Stories
Part 1
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Cab Driving Stories
The Way It Was - 1930
The Gambler And His Gal 1927
The Last One To Know 1926
Just A Couple Of Hustlers 1925
Cash On Delivery 1923
One Born Every Minute 1923
Fun Is Where You Find It 1923
An Ace In The Hole 1922
And A Little Child Shall…
Gold Tooth Murphy
Aiding And Abetting 1929
Buried Treasure 1927
The Good Samaritan
Just A Country Trip
The Prodigal Son
Occupational Hazard
Four Bags Full
Overtime Pay
Above And Beyond The Call
Fourth Down And Ten
Let There Be Light
Take It Or Leave It
Double Or Nothing
The Champ
Three Of A Kind
My Silent Big Spender
N.P.R.R. (Northern Pacific Railroad) Mr. Moody


Prohibition Stories
A Little Competition
Some Did Burn
Last Words


A Little Competition

During the dry years of prohibition, the bootlegging business was quite competitive. You could walk in to most any pool hall in town and find two or more dealers eager to sell you a ½ pint of alcohol. You seldom see anyone in a liquor store today buying ‘straight' alcohol, but during prohibition, alcohol was bought and used as the basis of all mixed drinks.

The most popular drink at the time was “spiked malt.” The malt was a non-alcoholic beverage known in some parts of the country as “near beer.” The most popular brand was “City Club.” You would take a quart bottle of this malt, fill the part of the neck that was empty with alcohol, hold your thumb over the opening, and turn it upside down a time or two in order to mix it thoroughly. This gave you quite a potent drink.

Of course, there were all the different brands of whiskey that could be found. But they were much more expensive and besides, most of them were counterfeit. They consisted of a certain amount of alcohol, a certain amount of distilled water, and then the addition of essence of gin, scotch, bourbon, or whatever you ordered. Very genuine looking labels, as well as fake U.S. Revenue stamps topped this off. These liquors were only available in case lots from the producers.

Getting back to competition, I remember how bootleggers not only had to beware of the local police and federal agents, but also had to beware of other dealers. They preferred to be called dealers instead of bootleggers. There were some dealers that were not above informing on a colleague if that colleague was giving him too much competition.

One day a young fellow came to town and started selling alcohol around a certain pool hall where there was already a couple of dealers doing business. This fellow was a very flashy dresser and wore extremely loud ties. He proved to be quite a hustler and was beginning to build up quite a trade.

Then one day the Chief of Police himself came into the pool hall, looked around, and spotted “Mr. Loud Tie.” The chief walked over to him and said, “Young man, I've been told you have been selling alcohol around here, so I'll tell you what I am going to do. I'll give you just 24 hours to get out of town.” The young fellow smiled and jovially replied, “Chief, you can keep 22 of those hours for I'll only need 2 of them.” With that, he took off and was never seen again. That was the least expensive for everyone concerned, especially the taxpayers.


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Updated: 7/30/2007