Friday, January 15th, 2016

Writing Prompt – Prohibition

New York City Deputy Police Commissioner John A. Leach (right) watches as Prohibition agents pour illegal liquor into a sewer in 1921.

New York City Deputy Police Commissioner John A. Leach (right) watches as Prohibition agents pour illegal liquor into a sewer in 1921. ~ Photo from History.net.

On January 15, 1920 the “Dry Law” went into effect in the United States. It was the 18th amendment to the Constitution and banned the production and sale of alcoholic beverages.

The law was intended to reduce the crime rate. But there were several loopholes. For instance, manufacture and sale of alcohol were prohibited, but drinking was not. A person could obtain a prescription from his doctor which allowed him to get and drink alcohol. Alcohol could also be consumed in church for religious reasons.

The law brought about the “unintended consequences” of the rise of bootleggers and gangs. These gangs hired “rumrunners” to buy rum in the Caribbean and bring it back to the US. Or, they brought in whiskey from Canada. Al Capone created the largest bootlegging operation in the US.

Thirteen years later, the law was repealed, and cities all over the US erupted into riotous, joyful, celebration.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write about a time when you were prohibited from doing something. Had you always been able to do this, but were suddenly stopped? Or, did you want to try something for the first time, but a parent–or employer–told you no. What happened?
  • Drinking in the US is prohibited until age 21. Write about your first time having a drink. Did you over do it?
  • Write about a time you prohibited yourself from doing something. Why did you do this? Did the prohibition work for you? Why or why not?
  • Write about the last time you were tanked, inebriated, foxed, sloshed, intoxicated, under the influence, or blind drunk.
  • Have you ever been forced to throw something away–like when prohibition agents poured beer into the streets to get rid of it? Write a poem about your feelings on the matter. Did your feelings change over time? How do you feel now? Have you ever forced someone else to discard anything? Why, or why not?
  • Write about the time you were the lone, stone-cold-sober person surrounded by drunks. Why were you there? How did you feel?

Have fun!

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