Sesquicentennial Highlights


In the Good Old Days…..

Remember when a place that sold beer was called a saloon and even the men were a little hesitant about being caught in one?  That was before the days of prohibition, when drinking and smoking were strictly male vices.  The ladies had not learned how yet, and there were no cigarette or hard liquor shortages.

Vermillion has had nothing that could rightly be called a saloon since shortly after the town moved on the hill. But that isn't saying that there was no drinking around here in the days before Volstead brought prohibition and outlawed alcoholic drinks.

As Vermillion was a "dry" town beer had to be shipped in, usually from Sioux City or Yankton, by the keg or case of bottles.  If a keg was ordered it meant a keg party in some out of the way place where the conviviality would not be disturbed. And the keg would have to be emptied that evening, as the beer would not keep. So everybody usually drank more than they wanted and "a pleasant time was had".

 Whiskey and gin could be bought by the bottle in the drug stores, providing you stood well with the proprietor or clerk.  This sale wasn't legal, but the drug stores had a government license to sell liquor by prescription and got around the law that way.  Sometimes there were prosecutions, but not too often.
Up to 35 or 40 years ago there were always three drug stores in Vermillion and sometimes four.  They all sold whiskey, and two of them usually handled beer.  Whiskey was cheap in those days.  A quarter would buy a half-pint of drinkable liquor with plenty of "kick".  And bonded whiskey could be bought for $1.50 per quart.
Prohibition came and people began drinking everything from hair tonic to lemon extract and the expression "dead drunk" had more truth than poetry in it.  But that stage of existence went by and now beer is called 3.2 and isn't supposed to be intoxication, though there is a considerable difference of opinion about that.

How to Create a Shortage:

Get the OPA to announce that there is a threatened scarcity in some certain commodity – say, soap.  Then have the newspapers and radio stations put out stories that there is expected to be a soap shortage. Mrs. Housewife sees or hears the story and goes into action immediately.  She visits the various stores and buys all the soap she can lay her hands on and carts it home.  When enough of them do this, the threatened shortage becomes actual, and the soap stock at the stores, enough to supply ordinary demands, is off the counters and in the homes.

Housewives confronted with the problem of canning with no sugar were given a pleasant surprise this week in the form of 5 extra pounds of canning sugar per person.  Extra stamps are being mailed out by the WPRB clerks and all who are entitled to extra sugar will receive it. Those who have not received it are asked to be patient a little longer.

A Yankton man who drives a beer truck was fined $25 and $17.30 in costs when he was found guilty of a charge of causing broken glass and bottles to be scattered on Highway 19. A case of beer fell of his truck as he was driving along the highway. A citizen complained that the driver had not cleaned the highway properly.

Olai Hanson has been a taxi driver on the streets of Vermillion for 18 years. He has had many interesting experiences like the time a Standard Oil man that gave him a $5 tip since the time was 3 a.m. and he had to drive through a blizzard. He tells of Main Street being blocked for three days in 1936 and even the snow plow was stuck.

The small grain crops are the best in years. Wheat will average 35 to 40 bushels to the acre.  The Gordon Collar farm wheat yielded 45 bushels to the acre. The Joe Dawson's farm reports barley at 30 bushels per acre.

News of the surrender of the Japanese was received quietly on surrender night. The local businesses closed promptly when the news was received shortly after six o'clock Tuesday evening and remained closed until Thursday morning.

The downtown district was quiet but at 9:00 o'clock there were many cars on the streets, some kept driving around town and honking their horns most of the night. There was no disorder. The radio report came through on Wednesday morning that gasoline, fuel oil, and processed foods requiring blue ration points had been released from rationing. Federal workers had a 2 day holiday.

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