Articles and Features

The End of Prohibition

March 22, 1933

Week of March 22, 1998

On March 22, 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the 21st amendment, making wine and beer with up to 3.2% alcohol legal. Prohibition was the common name for the 18th amendment, which outlawed the manufacture and distribution of alcohol. Prohibition brings to my mind the gangsters and flappers of the 1920's, with the romance of the movies. I imagine myself knocking on the door of a speakeasy, saying the secret password, and being allowed into the tiny bar, which might not be there next week. Music and smoke fill the room and I come not only for the illegal liquor, but because it's just so bad to do this sort of thing.

Anyone not familiar with the liquor laws in Utah is thinking strictly in terms of zoot suits and feathers right now. Let me introduce you to my favorite Salt Lake club. You come to the door and you have to prove that you are a member of the facility in order to attend. Your identification and membership card are carefully scrutinized before you are allowed inside the door. The smoke filled rooms are rare in Utah (due to the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act) and the music is loud. Only here (and at select restaurants, if you know the secret words) are you able to have a real drink. Beer is available in beer taverns and breweries, but a nice glass of wine is less accessible.

How I long for something different. Because of a combination of the liquor laws, and the Clean Air Act, I am unable to find a nice, clean, well lighted place for conversation, clean air, and a fruity drink with a splash of rum. There was a short story by Ernest Hemingway called "A Clean Well Lighted Place" which described a bar keep's willingness to keep the bar open longer for a lonely old man. I wish that bar existed in Salt Lake, and quite frankly, I blame our laws for its absence.

Here are some quotes about the curses and blessings of alcohol.

Introduction and quote compilation by Laura S. Moncur, Staff Writer.

"Instead of giving money to found colleges to promote learning, why don't they pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting anybody from learning anything? If it works as good as the Prohibition one did, why, in five years we would have the smartest race of people on earth."
Will Rogers
"Bacchus hath drowned more men than Neptune."
Thomas Fuller, M.D., Gnomologia, 1732
"Thus a man is little less of a man after each drink he takes."
Richmond P. Hobson, Alabama Representative, December 22, 1914
"Wine is like rain: when it falls on the mire it but makes it the fouler, / But when it strikes the good soil wakes it to beauty and bloom."
John Hay, "Distichs," 1871
"Bronze is the mirror of the form; wine, of the heart."
Aeschylus, Fragments, 525-456 B.C.
"Candy / Is dandy / But liquor / Is quicker."
Ogden Nash, "Reflections on Ice-Breaking," 1959
"Drunkenness doesn't create vices, but it brings them to the fore."
Seneca, Letters to Lucilius, 100 A.D.
"Too much and too little wine. Give him none, he cannot find truth; give him too much, the same."
Blaise Pascal, Pensees, 1670
"an old stomach reforms more whiskey drinkers than a new resolve."
Don Marquis, "archy on this and that," Archy Does His Part, 1935
"Wine can of their wits the wise beguile, / Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile."
Homer, Odyssey, 900 B.C.
"Drink! for you know not whence you came, nor why: / Drink! for you know not why you go, nor where."
Omar Khayyam, Rubaiyat
"It's the wise man who stays home when he's drunk."
Euripides, The Cyclops, 425 B.C.
"Drink moderately, for drunkenness neither keeps a secret, nor observes a promise."
Cervantes, Don Quixote, 1605-15
"Under a bad cloak there is often a good drinker."
Cervantes, Don Quixote, 1605-15
"What does drunkenness not accomplish? It unlocks secrets, confirms our hopes, urges the indolent into battle, lifts the burden from anxious minds, teaches new arts."
Horace, Epistles
"Wine gives a man nothing. It neither gives him knowledge nor wit; it only animates a man, and enables him to bring out what a dread of the company has repressed."
Samuel Johnson, quoted in Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson, April 28, 1778
"You’d be surprised how much fun you can have sober. When you get the hang of it."
Joe (Jack Lemmon) in Days of Wine and Roses, 1962
Featured Books
The following books and tapes are available through
  • Prohibition : Thirteen Years That Changed America Hardcover by Edward Behr - The truth about the Prohibition era from the romance to the violence. Read the reviews of this celebrated book.
  • Clean Well Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway - Read the story that lives so vividly in my mind for yourself. Decide if you wish for a cafe like this in your home town.
  • The Thinking Person's Guide to Sobriety Paperback by Bert Pluymen - The best reviews for recovering from alcohol abuse are for this book. If you are searching for methods of attaining sobriety, check out the reviews of this book.
For more information about Prohibition and Alcohol, try these links:
  • Temperance and Prohibition - a site run by Professor K. Austin Kerr about the Prohibition Era. It includes testimony from those wishing to install and abolish prohibition and general descriptions of the era. Watch out for the Java music though, it can take a while to download and quickly gets on your nerves if you stay at the site for too long.
  • Strat's Place Wine Quotes - A collection of quotes about wine and drinking. Also includes links to other quotation sites.
  • Frequently Asked Questions About Distilled Spirits - Provided by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, so expect a very "pro-alcohol" view.
  • Is Alcohol Anonymous for You? - Worried that all this talk of drinking and alcohol is going to corrupt you? Take this simple test provided by Alcohol Anonymous to see if you need help. Also includes a link to their home page just in case you do.
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