I have a fascination with American history of the 1920s. Naturally, there's a limited view of history told of the period....we tend to like starting history at WW II (1942).
One of my favorite topics is Prohibition. There's a lot of odd history, which people simply never got introduced to.
For example.....most every single community and town that existed in America up until Prohibition....had a saloon. Sizable towns had several.
Saloon had grown in statue since the 1800s and its safe to say that a lot of guys would get off work and automatically walk to the local saloon. They sit there for an hour or two. On any day off....they'd stay for hours.
There was a general belief in society that American culture was addicted to saloons and booze. This led the way for some type of control. The problem was.....you'd go and fix something by legal means and it'd lead to a court confrontation. Eventually, the only method left was the Constitution.....meaning an amendment needed to be added so that the court could not get around the law.
When you look back at the amendment....it simply said that no one in the U.S. could manufacture, transport, or sell alcoholic beverages (with the exception of medicinal or religious reasons). You could drink alcohol but it doesn't take an idiot to realize getting it to you was physically impossible without some legal implications.
All of this comes up shortly after WW I, within the women's right to vote period, and in the midst of the Wilson era.
What people tended to notice during the first month was the remarkable closure of saloons and bars across the nation. Your friendly neighborhood saloon.....no longer existed.
What quietly occurred over the next year or two....was a two-vehicle substitute. You could privately buy some illegal booze (imported or manufactured within the US) from a local guy or operation. Maybe your local grocery guy would get a truckload that he kept in the back of the warehouse, or your local barber would provide you some relief at a fair cost. The second part of the substitute was 'speak-easy' operations.....a private club with a strong door.
Speak-easy operations opened up a strange new door. They were meant to be private and slightly better than the old saloon operations. They had real entertainment or gambling. Unlike the saloon atmosphere where drunks hung around.....speak-easy operations were for people to drink, talk and socialize. Oddly, they opened up the drinking scene to women, which wasn't the case with saloon operations.
It took a year or two for most people to observe that women....after getting the right to vote and finding more potential jobs.....were now open to drinking themselves.
All of this led into this odd observation by the revenue mechanism of the US government. Booze taxes were zero, and it was now a problem because they didn't have some method to make up for losses.
The new Harding government (after Wilson)? Most everyone within his 'club' found that the White House kept ample amounts of booze and had it trucked in from Canada. The folks who should have shown some restraint and law obedience.....weren't doing so.
It took roughly thirteen years to admit Prohibition was stupid, get it back onto another amendment schedule, and get it finally passed.
Our drinking habits? Well.....they changed. I suspect for the most part, to a better level. Prior to Prohibition, drinking was a manly thing. After Prohibition....I'd take a guess in major urban areas (New York City for example).....probably fifty percent of all women were regular alcohol drinkers by 1930. Speak-easy operations were a more classy business situation than the old saloon trade. And if you asked most folks.....beer lost out over that decade to the cocktail trade, and has pretty much made itself a major factor in alcohol consumption today.
We needed some dramatic change to overhaul drinking habits, and that's precisely what Prohibition delivered.