Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Forgotten group working on the rail road


I looked at the 1910 Census for Rico, in Dolores County, the other day. All the regulars were there. Of course, there was Charles Engle on Garfield Street, and Peter Lofquist over on Commercial, and Charlie Johnson, Axel Carlson, C.L. Berry, Minnie Hill, and Annie Hoxie when they counted. But down at the bottom of a list names I noticed something interesting — to me at least.

An almost forgotten group of 10 men, with Japanese surnames, 25- to 60-years old, and only an initial for first name, most of them described as living in “Railroad Yard.” For the “Race” column it listed “Japanese Male.”

“T. Taneguchi, S. Herano, T. Watanabe,T. Tado, J. Fukae, K. Hamazi, R. Ota, B. Kutsunai, M. Sai, and G. Fukumara.

According Daryl J. Maeda, in an essay for Enduring Communities, “Japanese Americans have a long and complex history in Colorado, and their story features struggles and perseverance, discrimination and tolerance.”

I wondered about that group and their stories.

“The earliest Japanese to arrive in Colorado probably did so between 1886 an 1888 and were mainly visitors and students,” wrote Maeda.

“They were followed shortly, however by the first large wave Japanese immigrants moving eastward from the Pacific Coast. The largest number of Japanese came to Colorado between 1903 and 1908 and worked as common laborers, railroad workers, miners farmhands, factory workers, and domestics. The influx boosted the Japanese population of the state from 48 in 1900 to 2,300 in 1910.”

Maeda says many Issei (first-generation Japanese immigrants) initially worked in Colorado on the railroad and in the coal mines.

“These early settlers entered an environment already structured by anti-Asian sentiments, evidenced when a mob ransacked and burned the Chinese section of Denver in 1880. The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act barred the immigration of Chinese laborers to the U.S., and as the Chinese population of Colorado subsequently waned, the Japanese population grew. Like the Chinese before them, the Japanese who came to Colorado were scorned as the “yellow peril,” subjected to violence, and excluded from union membership. The Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post ran anti-Japanese stories and editorials beginning in 1901, and by 1908 the Colorado State Federation of Labor had formed a Japanese and Korean Exclusion League,” writes Maeda.

According to historian Arthur A. Hansen, “Fortuitously, the Issei arrived in the U.S. as the Interior West region was experiencing what historian Eric Walz has described as “an economic boom fueled by railroad construction, coal and hard-rock mining, and agricultural development.” Recruited by labor contractors, the Issei were a mobile workforce. As both individuals and gang laborers, they moved not only between different work opportunities on the Pacific Coast and the western interior sections of the U.S., but also between America and Japan and many other parts of the world in which Japanese workers filled a variety of employment needs.”

Hansen said “Many Issei who came to America first found employment with the steam railroad companies in two of the five primary Interior West states, Colorado and Utah, but many more also worked for the railroad industry in such secondary states as Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Nevada. This largely accounts for why the 1900 census counted so many more Nikkei in the secondary states rather than the primary states. However, as Iwata notes, even though they achieved remarkable success—supplanting Chinese railroad workers; gaining wage parity with (and then employer preference over) other immigrant laborers from such countries as Italy, Greece, and Austria; improving their status within the industry by becoming section workers (occasionally even foremen) and office secretaries and interpreters; and accumulating some surplus capital—the majority of Issei “began to look about for work other than that in the railroads.”

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Five Japanese rail workers pose around a rail handcart. Photo taken between 1900 and 1910. Western History/Geneology Dept. Denver Public Library.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

'OLD CROW' TEA SOLD FAST


AT FIVE DOLLARS PER QUART
New Orleans Times Picayune Publishing Company
June 4, 1920

************************************************
But Officer Carrigan's Nose Was Sharper
Than Rampart Street Eyes; and Now the
Vendor Languishes in Jail for Trial
************************************************
You can fool some whiskey drinkers all the time, and all whiskey drinkers some of the time, but it's the next thing to impossible to fool all the whiskey drinkers all the time.
And fooling Patrolman James Carrigan, a son of Erin who walks a beat in the First Precinct, all the time on Irish elixir is an accomplishment which Lawrence Reif fell down hard on Thursday.
Any good Irishman knows whiskey from 'cold tea.'
Lawrence, who is a painter and lives at 1038 Baronne Street became imbued with the spirit of J. Rufus Wallingford the other day. He procured several late and lamented Old Crow whiskey quart bottles and filled same with a very strong concoction of tea.
Then another bright thought hit Lawrence. His eye caught a United Cigar Stores premium coupon and without further ado he touched the coupons up with a pen and pasted them upon the camouflage Old Crow bottles. They looked exactly like U. S. government bond certificates.
Walking up and down South Rampart Street, Reif was surprised to see how readly he could sell quarts of tea for $5 per quart. It is said he even sold one to an aged and shrewd-looking person who conducts one of those establishments trade-marked with tree gilded balls above the doorway.
Business Excellent
Repairing to his domicile, Lawrence thereupon brewed himself another batch of tea, dug up more ex-Old Crow bottles and additional cigar coupons, loaded two bottles in an innocent-looking ìshopping bagî and ? forth to gather more coin.
He returned to the scene of this earlier successes determining to work one neighborhood well before going to another and to branch out then and continue as long as the supply of Old Crow bottles lasted.
He walked into the store of August Mazzola, 800 South Rampart Street, about tea time Thursday afternoon.
Now, it so happens that August is a cousin to R. Lanasa, 524 S. Rampart Street; that Mr. Lanasa only two days previously had purchased two quarts of tea at five buck per throw; and that Mr. Lanasa in his anguish had related the story of the calamity to his cousin.
Holding tight to Reif, Mazzola yelled for the police. Officer Carrigan hurried to the scene and soon the two bottles of 'Old Crow' and Reif were in the hands of the law.
The bottles looked so real that Patrolman Carrigan felt himself obliged to take a whiff of the contents to know whether he should turn the man over to federal authorities for obtaining money under false pretenses.
Nose Test Decides
A cork was lifted and Officer Carrigan applied his nose.
"Sure, and it 's nothin' but tay," he said, though he afterward admitted he knew little of Sir Thomas
Lipton's brew. One thing he did know though, and that was that the bottle did not contain booze.
The crowd gathered and David Aronwitz, tailor of 542 South Rampart Street, told how he had been taken in for a bottle of 'Old Crow.' Others confessed, and all cried for Reif's blood.
Federal authorities will be asked to investigate Reif's arrest, it is said. And yet, Reif hardly can be
charged with peddling contraband whiskey, because Patrolman Carrigan will vouch for it that there wasn't the semblance of whiskey or alcohol in Reifís brew.
Meantime, there are many merchants and residents of South Rampart street who still are grieving over being outdone at a bargain, in the making of which they long have held enviable reputations.
###

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

With Denver Fire, 'Number One' is complicated




When you are talking about the Denver Fire Department, and you are trying to identify precisely who and what, and where, is “Number One?” ... It may be more complicated than it sounds. Depends on what “Number One” you are talking about.
“The Denver Fire Department started in 1866 with the Colorado Territory's first fire company, volunteer Hook and Ladder No. 1, and built its first station a year later at 1534 Lawrence Street. That first company served barely 5,000 people,” says information from the department.
“The young state's capital launched its professional fire department in 1881. By the time the department moved into Engine House No. 1 at Broadway and 15th in 1884 and the last volunteer company — Tabor Hose No. 5 — disbanded a year later, the city had exploded to more than 60,000 people and was well on its way to where it is today.”
According to the Denver Firefighters' Museum, that first station dealt with challenges.
“A hand pumping draft engine was purchased in 1867 but scant water supplies and manpower limited its use.

”
From 1870 to 1879, three additional volunteer hose companies were organized and a Holly Pressurized Hydrant System was installed. About the same time, a new Central Station was built at the Broadway and 15th Street address and a 15-fire-alarm-box system. Denver became the state capital in 1881 and by May 10, 1881, the city hired its first paid firefighters, many from the ranks of previous volunteers.
“On September first-paid DFD crews manned Steamer 1, H&L #1 and Hose #1. The steamer was at Central Station, H&L #1 at City Hall Station and Hose #1 at Archer firehouse. By 1884 Broadway Hose disbanded and Steamer 1 moved into their four year old house naming it Engine House #1. The last volunteer company to disband was Tabor Hose #5 in 1885. James Lloyd became the first of 54 Denver firefighters to make the ultimate sacrifice for the City of Denver in 1886,” reports information from the Denver Firefighter’s Museum.
Today, the Denver Firefighter’s Museum resides in historic Denver Fire Station No. 1 on Tremont Street in Downtown Denver. For years, part of the operation was financed by a restaurant operation on the second floor of that building. It originally cost the city about $20,000 to build. The structure was built in 1909 by local architect, Glenn W. Huntington, but oddly enough, it is the second Fire Station No. 1.
It replaced the first Station No. 1 at Broadway and 15th Street, when that structure was torn down to build the Pioneer Monument. The monument was constructed in 1910 at a cost of about $70,000 and was meant to commemorate and mark the end of the Smokey Hill Trail. Its construction, design, art production, and evolution over the years combine to make up a fascinating story in its own right.
But if the preceding is not enough to throw you off, there is also the recently revived situation of Denver’s Hose Company No. 1, just west of Coors Field, and described by Denver historic preservationists as one of the city’s oldest and most unique landmarks. “Constructed in 1883 for Denver’s Volunteer Fire Department, it served the neighborhood known as the “Bottoms,” today part of the Central Platte Valley. By 1922 it was no longer serving its original purpose and was instead converted into a print shop and later a welding shop, a purpose it continued to serve until at least the 1980s,” according to information created by Historic Denver.
“In 1985 the owner elected to designate the property a local landmark, asserting that the structure is the oldest standing fire station in the city. The building’s architecture, which is representative of 19th century industrial construction, has only been slightly modified and most of the significant exterior features are in tact. However, the building has been vacant for at least a decade and continued lack of use and stewardship has put it in jeopardy.”
The preservation group says the current owners, who purchased the property in 2005, applied for a demolition permit that would end this 127-year legacy and forever erase the evidence of the “Bottoms” neighborhood, an important part of early Denver.
“The Hose Company building is one of only a handful of historic structures remaining in the area west of Union Station. It was identified in the Platte Valley Plan as contributing significantly to the character of the area, which will continue to experience on-going change and reinvestment as the Union Station complex expands. The Hose Company should not be left out of the plans for this area but be used as a vibrant asset that complements new residential and commercial structures.” according to Historic Denver.
On January 4, of 2011, the Denver Landmark Commission denied the request to demolish Hose Company No. 1, located at 20th and Chestnut.
The working Denver Fire Department Station 1 is now located at 745 West Colfax Avenue, not far from the first two historic locations of D.F.D. Fire Station No. 1.
Other firsts and No. 1 in the department, as reported by the Firefighters’ Museum:
• In 1903, all steamer and hose companies were to be named engine companies, by edict of the chief at the time. As apparatus was repainted and lettered, the paint scheme was changed from red to white.
• The DFD purchased two motorized triple combination apparatus in 1909 to begin the transition from horse drawn rigs.
• The first training tower was built at 12th St. and Curtis St. Five new stations were built. 

1910 to 1919: The DFD now has 250 firefighters.
• 1912 saw Chief John F. Healy begin his 34 years stint as Chief of the DFD on August 1, badges were changed from station hat badges to shirt badges with seniority numbers, and Station 18 opens as the first bungalow style motorized house in city.
• Station 8 housed the first motorized engine in 1915 and also the first motorized ladder in 1917.
• Also, at that time, First grade pay was $95 per month with $5 per year of service. Three new fire stations were built.


• In 1921 two platoon shifts begin. The repair shop moves from municipal shops to DFD shop at 19th and Market St. in 1923.
• 1924 saw the last of the horses as houses remodeled for motorized rigs. Hydrant colors change from red to yellow. Four new stations were built.


• In 1932, DFD headquarters moves from condemned City Hall to the new City and County Building. Short wave radios were available in 13 cars. Chief Healy abandons red suspenders for dress shirts. DFD Credit Union opens. Underwater recovery unit formed.
• In 1937, headquarters moves to 14th St. and Court Place. Five new stations were built..


• In 1961, a jet airliner crash at Stapleton creates need for foam engines at airport. In 1969 starting pay was $500 per month and 56 hour work week. Six new stations were built.


• 1971, SCBA breathing equipment put in service. The DFD gains full control of Arson Bureau.
• A 48 hour split shift work week begins in 1974, changes to 24 hour shifts in 1976.
• On August 21, 1985, Heather Larson becomes first woman DFD firefighter. Rocky Mountain Fire Academy facility at 5440 Roslyn is opened. DFD is first department in USA to get a TV broadcast license. Chief Gonzales becomes first appointed Chief since 1904
• In May of 2006 Lt. Richard Montoya was the 54th firefighter to die in the line of duty. New Station 2 goes into service in Montbello. DFD gains a Heavy Rescue and Hazmat apparatus courtesy of Democratic National Convention, which is hosted in Denver in 2008.
###

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fixing things, more than just part of the job.



I think the first time Dad had to help me fix my car, I had shaved too much off the sides off my pinewood derby block and it was dangerously out of balance. It sort of wobbled to the left and jammed two wheels against the track edges. It was light, out of alignment, didn't roll right, and it looked like a needle-nose Stutz Bearcat, but without the speed. As usual, we (my dad telling me what to do) eventually got it running.
Usually with a smile on his face, but sometimes muttering uncontrollably and shaking his head, Dad fixed quite a few of my automotive indiscretions over the years.
Dents were the deal with my first car, the green Vega. Body work was also common for my "Silver Bullet" pickup. He also kept my older sister's Chevy II running long enough that you could splash yourself through the floorboards if you went through a mud puddle, and later, a '59 Plymouth known as the "Batmobile." My younger brother and sisters stories were similar as well.
Of coarse, he fixed a lot of things other than cars, over the years. He would tell you it was just part of his job of being our dad. Believe me, it was more than that.

Following are some related stories. Click on the title to view:




Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The promise of history, habit and ritual


Ritual is a benefit for a regular guy.

Doing the same thing, over and over again, holds your place in the world. It allows you to recognize change. With it, comes a promise for tomorrow.

Make the coffee in the morning. Walk the dogs. See to it that the lilacs are watered. Mow the lawn. Work every day. Not just chores, but with a purpose… a history … a filter through which you can look at life. No wonder, ritual becomes a ritual for some.

Six days a week, almost precisely at 7:55 a.m., the light blue 1964 International Scout, loaded to the hilt with aging red dogs and nice old man with a history of his own, arrived and parked at side entrance to the hardware store in Dolores, Colorado. Merton Taylor would be wearing the same “uniform” as the day before… denim painter’s pants, a grey work shirt with button-down pockets, and crepe-soled, moccasin styled, split-leather, high-topped, work shoes and dented and stained mouse-colored Stetson. The dogs would disembark from the vehicle in precisely the same order everyday, all five of them. Jason, Feathers, Cindy, Christa, and Sarah.

Most of the time, for more than seven years in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, I would be waiting there for them. Merton would hand me the keys and I would head to the front door to unlock it, as he gathered boxes of newspapers, paper work and miscellaneous crap he had brought from home to the store that day.

Collectively, we would hit the various lights, unlock the side door and back slider, and I would head out to the incinerator to empty the big freezer box with hand holes cut in the sides. We had dumped all the trashcans in the building in there the night before. If there was no new snow to shovel, depending on how many of us were doing chores, one, usually Merton, would scrub the bathroom fixtures with a toilet brush. Another filled the big three-gallon mop bucket with a little bit of Tide, and hot water, from the outdoor hose bib under the indoor sink there in the corner. We would place the “mop wringer of death,” (a long-handled lever contraption that could explode a water melon if placed in the wringer carriage and squeezed) and wheel it up to the front door.

Every single day that I worked there during that time, we mopped the ancient oaken, hardwood floors, stem to stern — taking care on cold winter days to avoid the steel plate under the side door, lest the mop would stick and freeze. Around the two sides in front aisle, up by the office, register, nail counter to double doors just before you went in to the backroom. A red-handled mop and a splintery unpainted one that, when unused, hung over a shelf made just for that purpose on one side, above the stairwell to the basement. If you were not careful, and failed to wring them out good when finished, it would drip most of the morning on the bottom two steps.

Merton had been in the navy during WWII and would ‘teach’ new recruits the exacting method that the floors were to be mopped, with long, sweeping motions that covered the most floor, with the least duplication — or he would come to expect old hands at the chore to do so.

One of us would make the coffee (always in a percolator, none of this new-fangled Mr. Coffee crap technology) and another would do the dishes, which consisted of eight to ten coffee mugs (used by the regulars almost every day) scrubbed and placed on paper towels that covered the bottom of a silver tray.

In the evenings, it was a similar routine in reverse. Rather than mopping the floors, however, we would pour carvous oil out of a 5-gallon container and into clean sawdust that was kept in a 55 gallon drum with a metal lid at the bottom of the stairs. We mixed our homemade sweeping compound in an old coal bucket with a coal shovel. Then we spread it on the same floors, and would take to it with long-handled push brooms.

When it was close to quitting time, I would ask Merton for key to lock the front door. He would hand it to me, usually with the same lame joke, “Aqui,” and I would turn it in the tumbler at exactly 5:30 p.m., unless there was a straggler rushing to buy a plunger before we closed. But stragglers usually knew to arrive at the side door, because the whole dog-loading process into the Scout had to be reversed before Merton could go home.

Certainly, at the hardware store there were other rituals, habits and history to follow. Things that had been done that way since George Taylor, Merton’s father had owned the business. Perhaps even things that occurred in perpetuatuity since the building was the old J.J. Harris & Co, with the mercantile and bank there as early as the 1890s.

The other day, when I was walking the dogs (after mowing the lawn and watering the lilacs), I thought about how, in a lifetime, you see the same things over and over again. I thought about the videotape I watched the other day of my kids when they were much younger. It seemed so familiar, but oddly different, because they are nearly grown now.

Feeling all whiney the next day, I quoted Martin Amis, “Sometimes I feel that life is passing me by, not slowly either, but with ropes of steam and spark-spattered wheels and a hoarse roar of power or terror. It's passing, yet I'm the one who's doing all the moving. "


Rosanne Gain offered perspective at the time with some advice from her mother. “When I was a callow youth, my Mother explained it this way: 'My dear, the older you get the faster the time will pass. In old black and white movies they marked the passage of time by showing a desktop day calendar with a wind blowing the pages back. One day you will understand.'"

The next night, I looked at the sunset, burning orange red over the Rampart Range, with the peak behind it. It sort of wraps itself around you, with the dark greens fading to blue into the white of clouds and brownish red of a smoky sky feathering off into grey and then darkness. I had seen that sunset before. Maybe, not exactly, but close enough that I felt the promise — the promise of history, of habit, of ritual.

# # #

Photo information: View of the stagecoach and passengers on the main street in Dolores (Montezuma County) Colorado. A passenger holds a gold pan. Men stand in front of a storefront with a sign that reads “J.J. Harris & Co.” Photographed by William Henry Jackson between 1890 and 1900. Colorado Historical Society, William Henry Jackson Collection.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dolores' seat: Mining and Rico, Ag and Dove Creek



It was Rico, of course, that first got the nod on February 10, 1881, to become the county seat when Dolores County was carved out of a part of Ouray County. The new county was bordered by San Miguel on the north, San Juan county on the east and La Plata County on the south (Montezuma County had not been created until 1885) and Utah Territory on the west, according to Dolores County Historical Society.
"By an act of the general assembly which has just concluded its labors, the county of Ouray was divided and the new county of Dolores, with Rico as its county seat, created," read the Denver Tribune on February 15, 1881.
"It is 23 miles wide and forty miles long from east to west... Rico, the county seat, is located about 35 miles from the northern line of New Mexico, and about the same distance from the eastern line of Utah . Its altitude is 8,700 feet. It is 45 miles from Durango by trail, and the same distance from Silverton by trail. The actual distance from the latter place is 20 miles, and from the former about 30. It is situated on the east bank of the Rio Dolores, 20 miles rom its source and forty miles above Big Bend by wagon road. It is 90 miles from Animas City or Durango by Big Bend, the only practical wagon road whereby Rico can be reached. There is a cut off via Bear Creek hill which may be traveled late in the spring, and thus some 20 miles of distance saved. There is a charted toll road from the Animas River to the Rio Dolores, known as Pinkerton or Scotch Creek trail, which when completed, will shorten the distance for wagons," said the Tribune.
Rico had been incorporated in 1879 and was a thriving mining town until the Silver Crash in 1893. After the Crash, much of the population moved on though some mining continued. The Denver and Rio Grand Southern railroad was a part of Rico's history from its arrival in 1891 until it was discontinued in 1954. As Rico's mining future diminished, people moving into the western part of the county forced the issue of relocation of country seat to Dove Creek in 1945.
Miners and agricultural interests frequently have fought over placement of the seats of power in the counties of Colorado. The change from Rico to Dove is only one of the most recent.
According to the Dolores County Historical Society, the Dove Creek area had started being settled around 1912 with ranchers and farmers moving into the area. "The western part of the country was one of the last areas in the United States to be homesteaded. The Stokes Brothers build a store around 1914-1916 (which was used as the courthouse from 1945-1953. There was a post office and many businesses in the early 1920’s, but the Town of Dove Creek was not incorporated until 1939," says the society's information.
Rico and Dove Creek are still the only incorporated towns in the county. However, there were other settlements and post offices in various locations over the years. Incuded are Dunton - near Rico; Cahone – southeast of Dove Creek, Squaw Point & Bug Point southwest of Dove Creek, Northdale, west of Dove Creek; Disappointment Valley, Lavender and Cedar; Burns, Egnar and Slick Rock in San Miguel County, Cedar Point, and Summit Point in San Miguel County Utah.
According to and economic profile produced in 2005 for Dolores County, "Western Dolores County was originally lush native grass that attracted livestock settlers beginning in the 1870s. By 1910 open range overgrazing had caused sagebrush to overtake native grasses in most of the area. In 1914 the Federal Government opened the area to homesteaders and dry land farming began in earnest. Most farming is high altitude dry land, with a strong emphasis on pinto beans and winter wheat. Dove Creek is known as the "Pinto Bean Capital of the World" for its long - standing production of high quality pinto beans noted for their nutritional content and extended shelf life."
The profile says the mountainous (eastern) part of Dolores County supplied a number of small saw mills with timber, and was the site of gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc and molybdinum mining in the Rico area, beginning around 1869. In 1876 the Pioneer Mining District was formed and mining became the main industry for the upper Dolores Valley and the Rico area. In 1879 the discovery of rich, oxidized silver ore was discovered on Niggerbaby Hill, Blackhawk Mountain, and the west slope of Telescope Mountain. This led to the incorporation of the Town of Rico and a 320-acre town site was platted out into streets and alleys. In 1880 the first wagon road was completed up Scotch Creek and Hermosa Park where it eventually led to Animas City and Durango. In 1891 the Rio Grand Southern Railroad (the Galloping Goose) pulled into Rico, and eventually connected the communities of Durango, Dolores, Rico, Ophir, Telluride and Ridgway. The railroad ran for 63 years until it was abandoned in 1954, according to Economic Profile.
"In 1892 Rico had a population of 5,000 people, 23 saloons, 3 blocks of red light district, 2 churches, 2 newspapers, a theater, the Rico State Bank and many other stores and hotels. That same year the Dolores County Courthouse was built and Rico became the county seat, remaining so until 1946, when it was moved to the Town of Dove Creek. In 1893 Rico suffered a Silver Panic and many businesses were closed. By the turn of the century the population had declined to 811 people. The mining district had its ups and downs until 1926 when the Rico Company started to rebuild the mining industry. In 1937 the Rico Argentine Mining Company constructed a mill and eventually became the only surviving mining company of size. A sulphuric acid plant was constructed in 1953 and operated until 1965. At this time there were only about 300 people left in the town. From 1965 to 1971 the industry concentrated on lead and zinc mining and the population dropped to approximately 45," says the Profile.
According to "Colorado Place Names," by George R. Eichler, the name Rico developed after Col. J.C Haggerty's discovery of silver in 1879 and the rush of prospectors then. "Variously called Carbon City, Carbonville, Lead City and Dolores City, a meeting was finally called to choose a name. William Weston, then of Ouray, suggested the Spanish word Rico ("Rich") which was adopted." Dove Creek, is said was named for a nearby stream that, in turn, was labled by an early freighter for the flocks of wild doves in the area.
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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Women, liquor, and the local option


The “liquor question” was considered early in most of the Rocky Mountain West, by some accounts, because of the political power of various women’s movements in the region. Groups like the Anti-Saloon League and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union pushed for voluntarily abstaining from the demon “John Barleycorn,” but organization’s like Prohibition Party sought direct legislation.

In Colorado, the anti-liquor forces couldn’t universally agree on tactics. Local option laws, in place in some of the state’s communities continuously since the 1880s, showed a wide range of ideas.

According to Ansel Watrous’ History of Larimer County, “The town was full of idle and vicious men, driftwood from railroad and ditch camps, irresponsible creatures, without home or friends who hung about the saloons and brothels.”

“With an increase in crime and arson,” wrote Erin Udell in a recent article in the Rocky Mountain Collegian. “The city kept raising liquor license prices until they reached $1,000 from the original $300. Eventually in 1884, the Fort Collins city council took its first stab at prohibition, making the sale and consumption of alcohol illegal.”

Udell says fines for distributing alcohol were lower than the original liquor license prices and the city lost money, so it reinstated the sale of alcohol.
 By that time, Christian temperance movements had become prominent in the West, placing added pressure on city officials to reinstate prohibition.

“In 1895, many Fort Collins residents got their wish when Frederick R. Baker, a known advocate for the temperance movement, became mayor and put prohibition in effect the next year, 24 years before the nation-wide prohibition of alcohol,”

Udell quotes Treloar Bower, the curator of education for the Fort Collins Museum. “Prohibition started earlier here than in other parts of the county most likely because of the greater influence and louder voice possessed by the women of our community, many who were for temperance… In general, women in the West held greater standing in society than back east.”

“While Colorado was the second state to give voting rights to women — Wyoming was first — Colorado was first to do so by public referendum. This means the majority of voting men in the state voted to allow women that right,” notes Udell.

“In 1912, an amendment to prevent the manufacture and sale of liquor was submitted to the electorate,” wrote Carl Ubbelohde, Maxine Benson and Duane A. Smith in A Colorado History. “The voters defeated the proposal. But that defeat stirred the various groups to common action. Submerging their differences, they sponsored another amendment two years later. This time the voters answered the question of ratification affirmatively, approving an experiment in social engineering, despite a two-to-one rejection of the amendment in Denver. The ‘wet’ forces in the capital city threatened to use the new ‘home rule’ prerogatives of the city to escape the effect o the law, but on Jan 1, 1916, prohibition became the rules in Denver and all of Colorado.”

Colorado was joined by six other states, (Iowa, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Arkansas, and South Carolina) at that stroke of midnight as 1500 saloons, 500 hotels, restaurant and drugstores stopped selling, and 12 beer breweries closed.

“As first passed into law, Colorado's dry period was peppered with loopholes. One was letting residents purchase alcohol for religious and medicinal purposes. Shortly after the law went into effect, the city issued 16,000 prescription forms for doctors, who could prescribe four-ounce doses of liquor for needy patients with each form. One particularly pious congregation was nabbed by authorities for consuming 400 gallons of "sacramental wine" in a month. Under a later revision, individuals were allowed two pints of wine and twenty-four quarts of beer each month for personal consumption. Denver city auditor Fred Stackhouse noted in 1917 that the city issued 59,339 liquor permits to individuals,” wrote Dick Kreck in a 2009 story for the Denver Post.

“Another loophole allowed beer and spirits to be imported for personal use from wet states. Starting in 1916, an estimated $3,000 to $5,000 of whiskey a month was pouring across the Wyoming-Colorado border. One "importer" was nabbed with 2,000 pints of whiskey disguised as olive oil and salad dressing,” says Kreck.

“Despite several failed attempts to let Denver go its own way on the issue (including a measure to allow beer but not hard liquor), the city joined the rest of Colorado when the state officially went dry on January 1, 1916. The state legislature tightened the law in November 1918, banning any form of alcohol. Citizens were allowed to keep alcohol in their homes, but since its manufacture and distribution were illegal, it was a moot point — although it made enforcement even more difficult.”

With prohibition, many saloons became lunch counters and soft drink fountains and for the first time, women (other than those working the saloons) were welcomed.

"Dainty, high-heeled feet rested on the familiar brass rail, accustomed in the past to nothing but a trousered tread," reported the Rocky Mountain News at the time.

###

Arrest of Charles Hough, bootlegger, about 1917

Four men stand near hundreds of bottles of bootlegged wine, beer, and liquor on the steps of a building in Kansas. Beer bottles wrapped in paper are arranged on a table made from barrels and wood plank. Whiskey, gin, and wine bottles are arranged on the steps below the table, next to a still. Western History, Denver Public Library.