Thinking About Beer
One of the books I am currently reading (I usually read 2-3 books in tandem) is “Dry Manhattan: Prohibition in New York City” by Michael A. Lerner. Although I have not completed it yet I’ll say it is a pretty enjoyable book, if dry in parts (pun intended). Despite what the title implies, there isn’t much material about the outer boroughs in this tome.
This dearth of information made Miss Heather wonder:
Gee, I wonder what Greenpoint thought of prohibition?
Knocking around the Garden Spot in 2008, I can assure you we Greenpointers sure love us some beer. I cannot fathom what would happen to this neighborhood if its alcohol supply was cut off. Some would (rightfully) argue it would become a better place. I, on the other hand, am not so certain. If it wasn’t for the King of Beers I would have jammed an icepick into the eye sockets of the many developers and landlords who have seen fit to work until 9:00-10:00 p.m. at night a long, long time ago. But I digress.
Beer and Greenpoint have a long relationship. It may at times be dysfunctional, but it is a relationship nonetheless. What did a Greenpointer do when this solace of the working man was taken away courtesy of the Eighteenth Amendment, you ask?
- They made their own. Leonard Suligowski (Greenpoint born and bred, and former reporter for the Greenpoint Star) told me about hearing the popping of bottles in the middle of the night when he was a child. This meant the beer his father was brewing in the backyard was ready to drink.
- Bootlegging was a common avocation as well.
- As I learned from the following article from the June 12, 1921 edition of the New York Times they took to the streets en masse. With five marching bands and floats to boot!
Here’s another piece of Prohibition-era Greenpoint glory from the July 15, 1921 edition of the New York Times (sub)titled Dry Sleuths Assert They Have Found a Place in Brooklyn Where Drinks Sell at 25 Cents. The address where these “25-cent drinks” were sold sounded familiar to me. When I looked it up later it totally made sense. Read on and learn for yourselves.
To learn where poor Mr. Kellman was serving up the cheap hooch, click here.