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Seven Persons - John Barley Corn

Seven Persons
Once Hundred Sixty Acres and a Dream

Chapter 30

John Barley - Corn

The "Chink's Cafe" was sold to John Ringman, a big fat man. He was so stout his shirt would not button by quite a long stretch. When he walked across the single boarded floor, the flooring bent with his weight, as if he would go right through.

He sold some -lunches and coffee and a few groceries, and candies, tobacco and ice cream. Children, especially, came to buy that wonderful tasting ice cream in a cone, even if he licked the spoon after each serving. He sold, also, penny licorice and candy sticks, chewing gum and three-for-a-cent jawbreakers.

A whispered rumor was that he "ran a blind pig". This was a baffling term, one to be pondered upon, for it is one not explained by Webster's Dictionary. It really meant that during prohibition years John Ringman made a homebrew and "bootlegged" it or sold it without a necessary license. This was against the law, but he, like so many others of that business, wasn't caught.

There was a story that "Old Ringman" quarreled with one of the livery barn operators and to get his revenge, hid a bottle of his homebrew in that man's stable and then reported the tale to the local police. The bottle was found and the stable owner was fined.

Prohibition was put into affect throughout Canada in 1917. World War I was raging in Europe and there was a plea that grain was needed for food for the populace and for the armed forces so it should not be used for the making of liquor. This law did not stop the production and sale of many types of home brew. In fact it seemed an inducement to the breaking of the law.

Stills sprang up in the most unsuspected places: churches and belfry's, firehalls, basements, root cellars, granaries and woodlots. "Moonshine" was transported to or from the "States" in varied cars and trucks, over rough country where roads were nearly nonexistent, and travel was more often by moonlight. Sometimes the loads were cached along the way, awaiting a safer passage, or a relay means of transport. A favorite cache was along the Seven Persons Creek. Some think there must still be "yeller licker" lost there along its banks.

Whiskey could be purchased from a drug store, upon a doctor's prescription, as a cure for the flu during the 1919 epidemic. Of course this privilege was abused.

In the fall of 1919 the Federal Government discontinued Prohibition Laws and put liquor sales under its control.

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Copyright © 2000
Mary Tollestrup