An envisioning . . . . fall afternoon after school in 1931 when Mother got arrested with whiskey in the bottom of the baby carriage

Oh to be there.

Somewhere on the edge of Boston as the leaves fall off the trees and the fathers build mounds of them in the driveways with the biggest heaps of all in the park to be turned into bonfires for Halloween.

Twigs to kick at on the way home from school and races to the corner. Homework in the kitchen but with the table pulled over the trapdoor in the floor.

The railroad not hiring but not mattering much. No, a special carpenter from somewhere in South Boston that knows not to tell. A special wall in the cellar with cases from that cousin up in Canada reaching up to the little windows that you have to be barely able to walk to peek into.

Bottles to unpack and straw that makes you sneeze. Sheets draped over Sunday clothes when a Saturday night shipment comes in. Having to be ready to be delivered Monday and Mass to go to. No one to really ask but a need to be careful. The priest getting three fifths a month but still.

Little sister sworn to silence and the nuns at the school not asking. But the straw burned. Too much to be put in the rubbish can and lugged out into the street.

Only an hour in the beginning but Mother at it for five years and two more babies needing to be fed. No, up before dawn now and everyone helping.

A few raids but nothing more. The wall with its coal dust blended in across the bead and board done perfectly. Cost a fortune but no matter. Twenty police and no one could tell.

New customers down past the hospital and things likely to chink. Bottom of the baby carriage underneath the baby. Two blankets so they don’t roll around and mother with the little ones starting out. But oh no . . . . . .someone having told . . . .the police coming out like honey bees out of a hive . . . . .

 

This is not my story though it happened in my neighborhood. A co- worker I had where I worked in my twenties had a grandmother, a mother of nine, who rode out Prohibition in fine form by starting up a whiskey distribution business out of her house after her husband lost her job. . . . did very well but was forever bored once Prohibition ended. . .. in her later years she was given to denial, but her children remembered all too clearly when Mother got raided . . . .

Motor officers, Police Headquarters, Salt Lake City Utah. Early 20th c.
Motor officers, Police Headquarters, Salt Lake City Utah. Early 20th c. via slcpd.com. Image in the public domain due to being taken before 1926.

 

 

 

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