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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on what events took place nationally during prohibition and what forces were in play to get the 18th Amendment repealed is being presented.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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Aug 24 : 09:09pm
From the other side of the coin: I was driving DTH, going the speed limit and had a line of cars in front of me. A old jeep came up on me very fast so I planned to use the next turnout. He didn't give me time to get there and he passed (illegally) on a curve only to nearly rear end the next car in line. He screamed at me as he went by. Did he have a woman in labor in the car? What on earth could be important enough to risk a head on collision? This isn't the only time I've had this happen over the years but it's usually a sports car. For those of you that flash you lights at me when I use the turnout for you...thanks! I always say"'re welcome!" out loud. My dog probably thinks I'm insane. She could be right.

Aug 24 : 06:51pm
I drive the Idyllwild road from Palm Desert, faster than most. I am more comfortable on mountain roads than freeways, but if someone is behind me, ill gladly let them pass, or ill pull over.

Aug 24 : 05:58pm
Tlingit! I just think we all need to obey the law! If you want to drive slow, then pull over! That’s all

Aug 24 : 05:01pm
wolfman If you go to the CA DMV webpage you can obtain the information for Driving laws in 103 languages!! When you go into a DMV office to pick up a Driver's Lic handbook, you can barely find an English one but they have one for every language listed. In each of those books there is clearly stated about the turnouts. Just like you and I if we have California Driver's License we are signing off to knowing all these laws and nowadays anyone can get a license. SO maybe during busy season some more CHP monitoring is needed which also generates income for the State so people get the message. To put a sign up with all the languages would obstruct the beautiful views of the mountains. If a poll be taken I would bet that 99% of the people who speed up etc speck only English! Can I mention!fanit dumb drivers again?

Aug 24 : 04:55pm
Assimilation is important and you do need to learn the language of the land you live in. It's also important that people from everywhere that might travel up here be able to decipher traffic rules. This is for everyone's safety. This is why the rest of the world has standard traffic signs, often in universal symbols and in several languages, including English. Just yesterday in the Von's parking lot, there vas a German van that was traveling around the world, starting from Germany, They had already done much of Europe and African, are in the middle of North America and are traveling down through South America. So you never know where people up here might have come from! It said 2mitBulliumdie

Aug 24 : 04:44pm
Been going up to Big Bear for 60 years! Would love to live there but just has not worked out. I refer to myself as a flatlander and an old one! I live DTH (down the hill) and that also could be derogatory. I am going down hill in more ways than one and if I sit too much, flatlander could mean more than living on the land below the mountains. I picked up the terms many many years ago from the people at Big Bear and felt it was said with no double meaning or disrespect. And BTW I do turn out if there is even one care behind me and I am not a slow driver. I also stay in the slow lane when in a passing lane situation since there are also those that wish to fly off the mountain without wings and I am no one to stop them. So all you want! Those of us that travel those roads often understand what you are saying.....It is not only flatlanders but just plain ol' dumb people who should not be behind the wheel.... Ok Go for it I said dumb!!!!

Aug 24 : 01:37pm
Assimilation is key mtman. If I moved to another country I'd be expected to speak the language.

Aug 24 : 11:50am
Have a good weekend everybody. Looks really nice up there.

Aug 24 : 11:24am
I get your point but disagree. You should learn english if you live here, period.

Aug 24 : 11:00am

Aug 24 : 10:59am
I think that the turn out signs should also be written Spainish,Mandarin and loren.

Aug 24 : 10:28am
I have been going up and down from Big Bear for almost 70 years. We are part-timers. My parents owned since about 1957, my wife and I bought in 2002. I can tell you that is it not only flatlanders who do speed up on the passing lanes.I have seen cars and trucks with business signs do the same. I am not offended by the term flatlander, I suppose it is descriptive. It certainly is easier then saying 'someone who lives off the mountain.'

Aug 24 : 10:00am
"flatlanders" is a derogatory remark don't you think Nona?

Aug 24 : 09:36am
Evaj X2...I have 2 pitties that don't like the curves so I get it.

Between ⭐️S
Aug 24 : 07:23am
Today is Mel Blanc & Kids day at the museum. The Museum will welcomes Noel and Katherine Blanc who will be appearing between 1 and 2 pm. Museum docents will be reading to children young and old “Melvin the Mouth”, written by Katherine Blanc. The book describes a typical school day enjoyed by Mel. The readings will be held in the Doble School House at 11:00 a.m., and 12:00, 2:00, and 3:00 p.m.

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