Glasses Clink Gloomily as Saloon Gets Dry News (1919)
(From the Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger – January 16, 1919)
Barkeep Almost Collapses and Rum Hounds Mingle Briny Tears With Social Bibblers When Joy-killer Tells What Nebraska Went and Did
Groans went up from the tipplers when the news flashed around that the Nebraska Legislature had voted the whole country dry by ratifying the prohibition amendment to the Federal Constitution.
The washerwoman sat down in her soapsuds at the first shock. Then she cuffed the ears of her nearest offspring and sent her away from the ringer for a bucket of “suds” that wasn’t soap.
There was a general rush to the nearest barroom by those who could get away.
Fat and smiling, spick and span in a clean white apron and coat, the barkeep smiled and rubbed his hands as the horde burst through the swinging doors. But his happiness was short-lived.
“Huh?” he pleaded in a voice that was more a moan than a question, as the vanguard broke the news. No smile was reflected in the smooth, shining surface of the bar, as he leaned forward and inclined one ear, hoping against hope that he had heard wrong.
“S-s-say that again.”
“It’s the truth,” hoarsely whispered the joy-killer.
The clink of glasses was stilled for a long moment of silence. The mirror behind the bar reflected a long line of faces that were longer. The drooping back of the bartender loomed smaller than it ever had before.
The joy-killer tried to moisten his lips with his tongue and failed.
“Let’s have a drink,” he finally achieved more hoarsely than before.
The spell was broken and the drowning of sorrows began. The barkeep laid aside his troubles as the long line of long faces grew longer. The rum hound and the social drinker were standing side-by-side, weeping on each other’s shoulders, as the joy-killer announced he “mush be goin.”
“Aw, you’re not gonna quit now, the crowd chorused.
“Yesh-mush be goin.” Thish place only staysh open till midnight. I’m gonna fin’ one thatsh open all night.”
When the press of business became too great the bartender woke up the proprietor from where he slept over in the corner with his feet on his desk. But the proprietor had no time for pouring drinks for the mourners now. Grabbing his hat, he rushed away to the wholesale house to lay in the stock he had postponed buying in the hope that something would happen to keep things wet.
And this laying in of stock is the most popular indoor sport in Philadelphia today.