Charleston Daily Mail June 30, 1914

Tolling Bells Mark Exit of Liquor Era

Prohibition Will Envelop State at 12 O'clock Tonight.

Goodbyes Are Said

Charleston to Mark Time Until Midnight Peals are Heard - Jonathan Barleycorn Will Steal Across Border.

John is ready to leave.

Old Man Barleycorn, who has reigned supreme in West Virginia for the last 50 years, during which time he has brought alternate flashes of joy and sorrow to a majority of the men of two generations, has about completed the packing of his suit case, and is receiving the greetings and well wishes of his many admirers today.

This midnight he will take flight on the wings of time and there will be general mourning among his element, who will await his possible resurrection in future years, with a degree of impatience.

When the clock strikes twelve tonight the hundreds of saloons operated in an equal number of cities and towns in the state will disperse their crowds and close their doors for the last time, in accordance with the Yost prohibition law, which was submitted to the people for a vote in the general election of 1912 and ratified by a majority of 90,000.

In cities and towns throughout the state the prohibition element has arranged for parades, church services and other demonstrations to take place at midnight tonight in celebration of the coming into operation of the prohibition law.

Every city, town and village of the state has planned for a celebration of some sort. In many places the proprietor of liquor establishments will voluntary pour their stocks of "wet" goods in the gutters.

The law which adds West Virginia to the "dry" column is probably the most drastic that has ever been enacted by any of the commonwealths. It prohibits the importation as well as the manufacture and sale of all intoxicating liquors. The only exception to be made is in the case of "pure grain alcohol for medicinal, pharmaceutical, scientific and mechanical purposes and wine for sacramental purposes by religious bodies." The law goes so far as to prohibit all newspapers and other periodicals containing liquor advertisements from being brought into the state.

In Charleston 32 saloons will be affected, and when the big clock in the dome of the state capitol building tolls twelve they will have ceased business for a period of four years, at least.

While Saturday night is usually the businest [sic] of the week for the barkeeper, it was plainly evident that the business of the Charleston saloons last night excelled that of even the last Saturday night allotted to the sale of "wet" goods, and it is presumed that the same was the case in all cities and towns in the state in which the sale of intoxicants has been permitted by law.

This being the last day of the licensed saloon it is evident that the day's sales, when counted at midnight by the proprietors of the various saloons will show it to have been the greatest business period in the history of Charleston.

Hundreds of suit cases bulging with bottles and jugs were carried through the streets of the city yesterday by out-of-town people on their way to the railroad stations after making purchases which, if used judiciously, will satisfy their appetite for "firewater" for several months after the prohibition law goes into effect and when West Virginia will be as dry as the handshake of an undertaker.

Despite the fact that booze is being stocked up in enormous quantities for individual consumption, however, it is likely to be exhausted in a few days, as liquor is a commodity which, in the case of most men, cannot be used judiciously; or, as the drunkard says, "I'd rather drink a pitcher of ice water anytime than drink whiskey judiciously in the common acceptance of the word. I think a man uses liquor judiciously as long as he can wink one eye by holding the lid down on the other. But when a man gets to the point where he sees pink toads with green hose supporters twisted around their legs, then I think the further use of liquor could be termed very judicious, and accurately so."

Anyhow, it is believed that the liquor which has been sold during the last few days, or, as one Charleston saloonist has termed it on a sign stretched across the windows of his saloon, "The Last Days of Pompei," will be consumed almost entirely by Saturday night following the "patriotic" celebration of the birth of American Independence in West Virginia.

One saloonist, in conversation with a representative of The Mail today, declared that he sold more than three hundred gallons of whiskey to individuals in wholesale quantities yesterday, in addition to the hundreds of pints and half pints and cases and kegs of beer.

While this particular saloonist operates one of the largest family liquor stores in the city, it is but reasonable to believe that his business excelled that of many others. However, an investigation has revealed that the day's sales of other dealers were equally as heavy in proportion.

A majority of the saloons have been advertising booze at exceptionally low prices during the last week, and this held out a still greater inducement to the drinking man to stock up "while the stockin'-up is good." It is estimated that at least $15,000 was spent for whiskey and beer in Charleston yesterday, while the sales of today and tonight are likely to reach as high as $25,000.

Such an enormous quantity of booze is being poured down the parched throats of Charlestonians today that it is difficult to realize.

Some of the bottle-scarred warriors, impatient with the antiquated method of using the throat for a conductor pipe, and realizing the importance of time, have bored holes in their shoulders and are having it poured into them by the jugful, while others are having equal quantities shot into the calves of their legs with a forty-horse power hypodermic syringe.

At the time of going to press this afternoon old Rex Alcohol was having the tussle of his life in Charleston. Along Summers, Kanawha and Virginia streets the regular battalion of booze fighters has been reinforced by reserves of powerful drinking and physical capacity, and Rex has been backed into corners and harrassed until his tongue is lolling out and dragging the ground.

While it has been announced that Rex's carcass would be interred at midnight tonight later developments in Charleston indicate that there will be no remains to bury at the hour set for the funeral.

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