Monday, December 04, 2006

Lives in Letters: The Demon Liquor

Here's a postcard that would be hard to find at the corner store these days.

The Saloon
November, 1922

Addressed to
Mrs. Thos. L-
Tippecanoe, Ohio

Poem (of sorts) on front:
It comes to profit by the ruin of your
sons and mine.
It comes to bring gray-haired mothers down in
shame and sorrow to their graves.
It comes to change the wife's love into despair
and her pride into shame.
It comes to still the laughter on the lips of
little children.
It comes to stifle all the music of the home
and fill it with silence and desolation.
It comes to ruin your body and mind, and
to wreck forever your happy home.

Henry W. Grady
Message on back:

Vote "Bone" dry.
Anna E C


Just a few quick notes on this, as I'm running a little ragged this evening.

First, I'm pretty amazed that they even had postcards like this. But then I think about the scenes in Louisa May Alcott's Jack and Jill, when all the teenagers were getting involved in the Temperance movement... or the scenes in Rose in Bloom where the dissolute young men lost their way, and sometimes their lives, over liquor. Both books were a good 40 to 50 years before this postcard, before the discussion had rise to the furor of the early 20's.

This furor would lead to Prohibition. And this postcard shows us one of the ways it came about.

The "poem" on the front is pretty awful poetry. Is it even meant to be a poem? It looks like it -- otherwise why bother with the line breaks. But maybe it's more like a list of talking points. The artwork around it is interesting. Check out the detail.

I love that the postcard was sent to Tippecanoe. It would have been better if the addressee was named Tyler, but we can't have everything.

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