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Forums :: Forums :: HISTORY OF BIG BEAR
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Big Bear and Prohibition Part 2

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Mon Feb 04 2019, 11:02PM Email Thread Print View
Registered Member #7121
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In order to make any sense out of this second posting on Big Bear and Prohibition Part 2, I suggest going through the first posting titled Big Bear and Prohibition.

In the first posting it included information on what started this project and resulted in a three part presentation on prohibition. As I researched information on the events that occurred in Big Bear during the 1920s I quickly realized that there was a lot of material that was going on behind the scenes that needed to be recorded before any information directly on Big Bear was given.

Here in part 2 information on what events took place nationally during prohibition and what forces were in play to get the 18th Amendment repealed is being presented.

Since there is a limitation on the size of the file that can be loaded on this website, the second part of this presentation has been broken down into several smaller file size postings. This will also allow for me to add some additional comments since the original Big Bear Historical Society presentation was given in a PowerPoint format which does not allow for the viewer to see the notes section which gives clarity to the slides.

Big Bear and Prohibition Part 2 Slide 1 thru 7
In this segment a map of the United States from 1917 is showing the various states that had state laws that had outright alcohol prohibition or left the matter to the various counties and cities to deal with the issue.

A slide on the 18th Amendment describes what was actually being prohibited and gave a limitation as to when the amendment was to be ratified. The federal government was looking to get the state governments involved with enforcing the amendment which did not always occur.

There is information on Senator Andrew Volstead and Wayne Wheeler who were the two most influential people in constructing the enforcement part of the 18th Amendment passed which is known as the National Prohibition Act aka the Volstead Act


Richard Graham
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Mon Feb 04 2019, 11:06PM
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Big Bear and Prohibition Part 2 Slides 8 thru 16
In this posting, information on one way the people got around the law is presented. Alcohol was allowed to be sold by physicians, dentist, and pharmacies as long as there was a prescription associated with it. The law allowed for a prescription for one pint every ten days. Legal forms are shown along with ledger books documenting by doctors as to who and when a prescription was given out. As shown some people appeared to very ill for long periods of time. As always there were counterfeit forms used so the federal government recalled and reissued different style forms over the years.

There is a slide on how medical support was given in Big Bear at that time since it was a seasonal community with the town being shut down during the winter months. During the summer months various camps joined together and funded a doctor to stay up in Big bear to take care of all medical issues (alcoholic and otherwise).


Richard Graham
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Mon Feb 04 2019, 11:10PM
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Big Bear and Prohibition Part 3 Slide 17 thru 23
During prohibition wine was handled a little bit differently since it was used for sacramental services. The law allowed for the head of a congregation (or synagogue) to order wine for sacramental use. The head of the church had to fill out a government form and then submit a list of names as to whom would be receiving the wine. Attendance at churches and synagogues grew almost by a factor of 10.

Initially wine could be legally made and used by the head of the household. The allotment was 200 gallons a year. Due to bootleggers working with local citizens there were many abuses that lead to the recall of these government authorization letters allowing for this wine making.

There was one enterprising concern called what was known as a grape brick. The instructions on the side of the package told you just what you should not do because the material would turn into wine.


Richard Graham
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Mon Feb 04 2019, 11:12PM
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Big Bear and Prohibition Part 2 Slide 24 thru 32
In this section we learn about Problems with the law. Everyone was drinking even senators and congressmen. Meet George Cassidy was the main supplied to the legislators.

George Cassidy sold alcohol in the House of Representatives building from 1920 to 1925. He would be carrying 35-40 bottles of alcohol in two suite cases each day into an office in the basement was arranged for him by one of the Representatives. One day he dropped a suit case of liquor while being chased by capital police inside the House of Representatives building.

When he was caught by the Capital Police, he was wearing a light green felt hat. Thus, the name stuck with him. He was fined and ordered never to enter the house building again.

He then set up an office in the Senate building and sold alcohol from 1925 to 1930. He said that the Representatives always came down themselves to buy the alcohol, but the Senators usually sent their secretaries.

Presidents over time would get alcohol by going to various embassies that did not have prohibition regulations.

Punishment for violation of the various liquor laws varied depending if the charges were violations of the Volstead Act, the Jones Act, California’s Wright Act or San Bernardino County Ordinance #194.


Richard Graham
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Mon Feb 04 2019, 11:13PM
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Big Bear and Prohibition Part 2 Slide 33 thru 38

During the research there were several references for those people supporting prohibition as being “Dry” along with some comment of being a camel.

The idea of a relationship between the camel and prohibition was started by Thomas Nast the American caricaturist and editorial cartoonist considered to be the "Father of the American Cartoon”

Among his notable works were the creation of the elephant for the Republican Party
Contrary to popular belief, Nast did not create Uncle Sam (the male personification of the American people), or the Democratic donkey,[2] though he did popularize these symbols through his artwork.

The Prohibition Party started out fairly strong in the beginning with the first conventions held in 1872 in Ohio with 2100 supporters in attendance. The highest number of supporters was in 1904 with 258,000. In the 2016 election there were 516 supporters and their convention was held as a conference call.

From our own community the Voters Registration from that time period shows that Sarah Stocker who was a relation to the Jim Stocker one of the elected sheriffs of San Bernardino county was a prohibitionist, even though the Stocker boys were known to take a drink from time to time.


Richard Graham
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Mon Feb 04 2019, 11:16PM
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Big Bear and Prohibition Part 2 Slide 39 thru 46
Problems with the law was multifaceted.

In 1926 a study on the reason that prohibition agents were discharged revealed that 875 men of a standing staff of 3,600 were discharged for all sorts of criminal activities including 215 for intoxication and misconduct with 122, bribery and soliciting money.

Low pay was part of the cause. The average agent pay was $1,500 a month which about equal to $20,000 a year in 2009.

The Chicago Prohibition chief made a statement that he believed that 60% of the agents were involved with bootlegging actives in one form or another.

What disturbed honest congressmen was that normal law abiding citizens were breaking the law. Weather it be for actually being part of the bootlegging or for collecting up the beer and liquor that the prohibition agents dumped into the street. Children were involved as shown in the following slides. This was not an isolated case.


Richard Graham
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Mon Feb 04 2019, 11:18PM
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Big Bear and Prohibition Part 2 Slide 47 thru 58

This section covers the history of the Bureau of Prohibition and stories on famous and infamous prohibition agents.

It is not widely known that Al Capone’s oldest brother Vincent Capone left the family early in life because of all the crime and corruption. He changed his name to William Hart and served for many years as a prohibition agent and then later on as an Indian agent. His history and additional information can be found by “Googling” his name.

Among those famous agents are the two that are more widely credited for bringing down Al Capone. Elliot Ness was born in 1903 in Chicago and went on to college and graduated in 1925 with degree in economics. He joined the US Treasury department in 1927 along with over 1,000 agents there at that time.
He was appointed to be In charge of 50 agents to combat Al Capone, His team was trimmed down to 15 agents and then finally 11 Untouchables. After six months his team seized over $1 million of assets mainly thru the use of wire-tapping.

After Al Capone was convicted of income tax evasion, Ness he was reassigned as the chief prohibition agent in Ohio. He was hired as Cleveland’s city Safety Officer and later worked in the private sector in security. Ironically he, drank heavily, ran into debt, was married three times and died in 1957

Frank Wilson was born in 1887 served in WWI, worked for the Treasure Department and the IRS, worked the Capone case and then was later promoted to the Chief of the Secret Service. It is Wilson who is really credited for bringing down Capone through his forensic accounting skills.

On a more light hearted side there were two prohibition agents in the New York area that grabbed a lot of attention. They were more commonly known as Izzy and Moe.

Izzy and Moe were two famous prohibition agents working mainly in New York and New Jersey. Izzy was a postal clerk of “modest height” and weighing 225 pounds. Moe was the owner of a cigar shop and friend of Izzy prior to prohibition. Izzy said that busting the people was easy “nobody expects a fat man”

Their experiences were captured in newspapers and magazines of the day. Their own antics was the cause of their dismissal. The Prohibition Office felt that they made too much press and that they were more suited for vaudeville acts. They were both let go from the agency in 1925. One higher up claimed “The service must be dignified; Izzy and Moe belong on a vaudeville stage.”

On the more serious side were two of the more famous California federal agents Daniel O’Leary and Daisy Simpson.

Daniel O’Leary was a prohibition agent that served in the Los Angeles office for many years. We will cover more on him at the next segment when he has some interaction with some of Big Bear’s bootleggers.

Much more visible was Prohibition Agent Daisy Simpson, whose home base was the San Francisco office. However, she also worked in other cities across the country. They included Baltimore, Chicago, Milwaukee, and New York. There is no indication that she ever worked in the Southern California area. (This is important because the original claim in the Big Bear Raid story was that a couple that were federal agent came up to Big Bear and gather evidence against several Big Bear residents.)
Early on, Daisy Simpson received much visibility in the press. Known as the ‘Lady Hooch Hunter, she often used disguises. She apparently had a hundred different ones. Often, using a disguise, she would spend a few nights in a speakeasy, hotel or restaurant. Then she would arrest those who served her any alcohol.

In one of her tricks she would pretend to become ill and faint outside of a speakeasy. Then she would arrest any bartenders who would bring whiskey to help her. Daisy Simpson was responsible for the seizure of 8,000 gallons of wine in a single raid. But most of her arrests were of low-level offenders for petty crimes. She arrested a bellboy who brought her medicinal whiskey after she’d complained about stomach pains.

Daisy left the prohibition service in 1925 when the bureau decided that it was too dangerous to have women acting as field agents. Daisy herself got into trouble in 1926 in El Paso, Texas and was charged and convicted for smuggling narcotics. More can be found on her by going through google.


Richard Graham
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Mon Feb 04 2019, 11:19PM
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Big Bear and Prohibition Part 2 Slide 59 through 74

This section deals with some of the benefits that came from prohibition, how prohibition came to an end, one of Big Bear’s first post prohibition beer gardens and finally what states are still effected by prohibition laws.

It is interesting to note with FDR signing a bill that would up the alcohol content to 3.2% Adolphus Busch celebrated the moment by coming up with his famous Clydesdale draft horses pulling along the beer wagon as an advertising gimmick which remains still today. Busch used this marketing concept throughout the United States.

The ability to buy beer, wine or strong alcoholic liquors did not come all at once. Prohibition end in various steps as shown below.

1. Blaine act was the start of the 21st amendment. It was passed and signed by FDR on December 5, 1933
2. Cullen Harrison Act was introduced on March 21, 1933 which allowed for the legal limit of beer to be raised to 3.2%. FDR signed that bill on March 22. 1933 which is now known as National Beer Day. According to the Cullen-Harrison Act, each state had to pass similar legislation to legalize sale of the low alcohol beverages in that state. Roosevelt had previously sent a short message to Congress requesting such a bill.
3. It took only 10 months for 36 states to ratify the 21st amendment. Ironically Utah was the 36th state.
4. Liquor tax results in a revenue of $258 million the first year. Income tax did go down but not for the wealthy. FDR social programs cost a lot of money.
5. Liquor Law Repeal and Enforcement Act of 1935 removed limitations on the percentage of alcohol in drinks.


Richard Graham
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Desert Way Jay
Feb 17 : 11:32am
Just had the best shopping experience at Stater Bros. EVER! Easy parking, hardly anyone in the store, no lines. Seemed like mostly locals. Nice convo with cashier Ms. Sherry who just got her electricity and cable back on in Fawnskin.

Feb 17 : 11:27am
Now it is time For the Daytona 500

Feb 17 : 11:27am
Well said Benny.

Benny (N6BWX)
Feb 17 : 11:22am
If you want to post productive suggestions to help people that's awesome, we're all for it and that's what this is for! But the past few days has been nothing but whining about traffic and how much Big Bear sucks and how glad folks are to be moving out. Do whatcha go to do, the rest of us are moving forward with or without you to try and create a resolution that will better our valley for everyone.

Feb 17 : 11:10am
Dinner at BBNona's house.

FF Mac
Feb 17 : 11:06am

I get that, but people coming up here and that live DTH need to see these conversations so they know what go’s on up here from a local’s perspective so they know what creates issues. I see it as an educational tool. I’ve been using this site since 2007 and I use it because I know I can have those conversations with other locals in an easy and quick way. Navigating deep into the website to post something that 10% of people go see is pointless in my humble opinion, but whatever man.....will do.

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Feb 17 : 10:59am
Quiet,slow day in Crestline.Main streets low traffic and look good on the cams.Sky getting grey,sun in and out.Very quiet holiday weekend.

Feb 17 : 10:56am
So sorry. I asked an honest question. I have seen all kinds of lengthy convo's on here so I wasn't sure why some were ok and some weren't. I'd never seen anyone told to move their convo elsewhere until this weekend. There aren't any rules posted so the only way to find out is to ask questions. Didn't mean to upset anyone. No more questions!

Feb 17 : 10:55am
Thanks for that info Benny. Ice dams urgg.

Benny (N6BWX)
Feb 17 : 10:55am
Good chance Vegas will see snow again tonight.

Feb 17 : 10:54am
Cold? something different this morning: Plane being de-iced in Vegas

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Benny (N6BWX)
Feb 17 : 10:44am
You're sooooo lucky! I'm out working in all this cold! Roads were still pretty icy this morning, with the freezing temperatures, we're starting to get some ice jams and running water is beginning to back up in a few areas, especially around the airport. Hope AR is ok and drying out.

Feb 17 : 10:42am
Loving this weather and four days off work. I’ve made linguini with clam sauce, beef stew and chili! Great cooking weather!

Benny (N6BWX)
Feb 17 : 10:36am
Thank you Nona! Enjoy your day, stay warm out there. Freezing, litrally!

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