Prohibition, 100 Years Later

On January 17, it will be 100 years since Prohibition went into effect. Because of the current political climate  around immigration, I  am posting an excerpt  from Brewing Battles that describes the treatment some German-American brewers received  during the enactment of Prohibition.

The brewing industry was overwhelmingly German; most German-Americans drank beer as did many other Americans. Although German-Americans maintained many ties to Germany, the vast majority were second or third generation Americans. The founders of most breweries had immigrated to America in the 1840s and 1850s. World War I generated a tremendous amount of public hostility against Germans and German-Americans. For brewers and their fellow ethnic citizens, the war period was a test of their dual identities.

Some of the nation’s most prominent brewers faced these issues of loyalty and cultural identification as soon as America entered the war. One of New York’s most prominent brewers was George Ehret, Sr., the nation’s largest brewer in 1877. In 1914, Ehret, an American citizen, returned to Germany to live. In 1918 his son, George Ehret, Jr., turned over the family property with a value of $40 million to the federal government. A. Mitchell Palmer, who was then the Alien Property Custodian, found Ehret, Sr. to be “of enemy character.” Ehret had not broken any laws but appeared to be friendly with and under the protection of “powerful men.” He had also given large amounts of money to the German Red Cross since 1914. Palmer stated that Ehret, who was 83, could get his property back if he returned to America. He would then lose “his enemy character.” The Ehret family’s status as influential New Yorkers and wealthy Americans apparently did not mean as much as his German affiliations.[1]

Lily Busch, widow of Adolphus Busch, suffered similar problems. The Buschs, if not the country’s wealthiest brewing family then certainly its most ostentatious, owned several estates including a castle on the Rhine in Germany. Adolphus died in 1913; estimates of the value of his wealth ranged from $30 to $60 million.[2] Both Adolphus and Lily were born in Germany; Lily had become a naturalized citizen of the United States. When World War I broke out she made her German home a war hospital and served as a nurse. The German government took her property because she was an American citizen; the United States viewed her as enemy alien since she was in Germany. When she returned to the United States in 1918 the government seized her property and placed her under a form of house arrest. She died in 1928.[3]

The prosecution, if not persecution, of these prominent brewers and their families indicated the deep unease Americans felt about the presence of Germans in their country. The rhetoric of the Prohibition movement for most of its existence had been positive, extolling the virtues that removing alcohol from society would bring. . . . The final push that brought Prohibition, the Eighteenth Amendment, and the Volstead Act into being became negative and played on people’s fears as American faced a world that was unfamiliar and rapidly changing.

Jacob Rupert, owner of the New York Yankees and Jacob Rupert Brewery with Miss Harwood, 1921. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

 

[1] “Nation Gets Ehret Property,” New York Times, May 14, 1918, 1.

[2] “Adolphus Busch Dies In Prussia” New York Times, October 11, 1913, 15.

[3]; “Mrs. Lily Busch of St. Louis Dies,” New York Times, February 26, 1928, 27.

© All Rights Reserved Amy Mittelman 2020.

Goals

My main goal for 2020 is to finish my book on faculty wives. I hope to complete chapter five, which I have been working on for over a year, shortly. I would then have five or six chapters left. At the very least, I need to pick up the pace.

When I was thinking about my progress, I realized that I would need more structure, focus and motivation to achieve this goal. Beginning the end of January, I will be participating in the year long non-fiction manuscript group that the Pioneer Valley Writers Workshop offers. Most of the other members of the group will be memoirists but I think paying for the workshop and having regularly scheduled meeting once a month will provide a lot of structure and motivation.

The other writing commitment that I am undertaking is being part of Nerissa Nield’s Writing It Up in the Garden workshop for ten weeks. This is two hours once a week. Both of these writing groups require a commitment which I hope will benefit my rate of production for the book.

Besides writing the book, my other big commitment is to my ice skating. Having competed in October, my focus is now on being part of an adult group number, for the annual skating show of the Skating Club of Amherst. I hope I will be less nervous skating on home ice. My other skating goal is to complete at least one three turn this year. Here is link to a video, by a professional, of a three turn. After today I will have 357 days left to do it.

Because finishing my book is imperative, I am going to try to keep my schedule free from the other activities. This will not be easy; I have trouble saying no. The only thing I will consider getting involved in is efforts to defeat Donald Trump.

What are your goals for 2020? I would love to hear them.

Jane Austen’s Birthday

December 16th is Jane Austen’s birthday. She was born in 1775 so this is the 244th celebration of her birth. As you may know, I have been leading the Jane Austen’s Regency World book club at the Jones Library, Amherst, MA since last February.

Tomorrow is the last meeting for this fist year of the club. Since we are meeting in December, I am planning to bring refreshments for a celebration of Jane’s birthday. The menu is going to be ginger cakes and apple cider. The recipe for the cookies is from Jane Austen’s Card Games; 11 Classic Card Games and 3 Supper Menus from the Novels and Letters of Jane Austen by Jo Ann Staples.

For this meeting, we read Barbara Pym’s Excellent Women. Even if you haven’t read the book, all are welcome to attend.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JANE!

 

The American Wife


As I continue to work on my manuscript about faculty wives, I am always interested in books that appear to be about wives or more broadly women. After reading The New York Times obituary of Elaine Ford, I read her collection of stories, The American Wife.

In the story, “Changeling”, the main character, Sandy, thinks the following: “It’s as if getting married when you’re an undergraduate and then having a baby before your husband’s career is well established, together amount to sheer irresponsibility, which cannot be allowed to go unpunished.”

The story is about a young woman living in Athens with an infant while her husband is off on an archaeological dig. Sandy experiences extreme psychological distress to the extent that she believes the baby is not hers.

The story has autobiographical elements; in 1958, Ford, an undergraduate at Radcliffe married a Harvard student, Gerald Bunker. Together with their infant they pursued lengthy travels while he completed his Ph.D.  By 1964, she had three children but did completed her bachelor’s degree.

The couple continued traveling and having more children. By 1976  they five children and were living in Northern Ireland while Bunker was in medical school. Ford divorced Bunker, returned to the United States and began pursuing a writing career. She published her first novel, The Playhouse, at the age of 41 in 1980.

Ford, writing  about “Changeling”, said it “reflects my experience of living in Athens with a baby while my husband was far away on an archaeological dig. Though I’ve imagined the central plot of the story, the protagonist’s sense of isolation and disorientation certainly expresses my state of mind at the time.”

 

Molson Coors

At the end of last month, Molson Coors announced that it was restructuring and closing its offices in Denver and other places. This change could save the company up to 150 million dollars. Molson Coors is the parent company of Miller Coors. Although the company is laying off 500 workers, the restructuring will create some new white collar jobs in Milwaukee. Finance, human resources and other support services will consolidate and be based in Milwaukee. Milwaukee is the historic home of Miller beer.

Although some aspects of brewing will be in Milwaukee, the name Miller Coors will cease to exist. Instead it will become part of the North American division, headquartered in Chicago. Beside consolidating services and offices, the restructuring is part of a plan by Molson Coors Brewing to become Molson Coors Beverage company with a greater focus on products other than beer. Hard seltzer is on of the “new” company’s targets.

The loser in this plan is Denver. Coors has been a presence in Colorado for almost  150 years. The closing of the corporate offices will lead to 300 people losing their jobs. Colorado is facing this significant job loss as well as a loss of its corporate identity. The state remains second in craft brewing; California is first.

As the brewing industry seeks continued tax relief, perhaps  federal legislators will call Molson Coors to task for laying off 500 people. If you want more information on  Molson Coors, read here and here.

Beer Days

October 27,  Sunday, was National American Beer Day. I will confess that I had not idea such a day existed. I read about it here.  According to the  website, National Today American Beer Day is a day to “celebrate distinctly domestic lagers and ales brewed across the country.” The site also describes three other days that one can celebrate beer.

There is International Beer Day which occurs on the first Friday in August and is a “global celebration of beer, taking place in pubs, breweries, and backyards all over the world. It’s a day for beer lovers everywhere to raise a toast to our brewers and bartenders and rejoice in the greatness of beer!”

National Beer Day is on April 7th and commemorates the day that beer became legal again after 13 years of Repeal. Upon signing the legislation, FDR apparently remarked, “I think this would be a good time for a beer.”

National Today also describes National Beer Can Appreciation Day which is January 24th.  January 24, 1934, the Krueger Brewing Company produce the first beer in cans. I posted about the history of beer cans in 2011.

Krueger can. Photo courtesy of Brewery Collectibles Club of America.

Besides these days, there is also Repeal Day which is Dec. 5 and represents the day in 1933 that all alcoholic beverages became legal again.  Most, if not all, of these days seem like marketing ploys. The days that commemorate actual historical events have more legitimacy, but, in the end, all of these celebrations exist to convince you to buy and drink more beer.

Mark your calendars and let the drinking commence!

Skating Competition, Part 1

On Oct. 19th I will be competing in the 33rd Annual Halloween Classic at the Winterland Skating School, Rockland, MA.  This competition is ISI endorsed; ISI stands for Ice Skating Industry and is another skating organization besides the United States Figure Skating Association (USFSA).

The USFSA is better known and is the organization that sends skaters to the Olympics. My skating club, the Skating Club of Amherst (SCA) is an USFSA club. ISI is more recreationally oriented and has more opportunities for  that beginning adult skater, like me, to compete in.

To compete at the Halloween Classic, I had to become an ISI member, join a ISI club and get a ISI coach. I did all that; I now belong to both the SCA and the Silver Ling Club. My ISI coach is Andea Newsham and my SCA coach is Kiara Sonada.

When I posted Travel, Part 2, I mentioned I had gone to Bridgewater to test the pre-Alpha level for ISI. Passing enabled me to compete at that level in the Spotlight category. To pass pre-Alpha, I had to do a two foot glide, forward one foot glides, forward and backward swizzles and a backward wiggle.

The Spotlight category is supposed to be entertaining. I have a baseball program, skating to Centerfield by John Fogarty.  Here  are pictures of me in my costume.

I will post about the results next week and, hopefully, have a video.

Barley and Beer

A recent article looked at the relationship between barley and beer and the economic implications for both Alabama farmers and brewers. Nationally barley production is down; farmers less often use it as feed. One remaining use for barley is in brewing.

Alabama has never been a major producer of barley. Despite the national downturn there has been an increase in barley production in the state. There are over forty brewers in Alabama, and this may be a factor in the increase in barley production.

However, beer requires a higher quality barley than that needed for feed. This combined with the fact that there are not really any maltsters in the state has made barley production more of an aspiration for Alabama farmers than a reality. Brewers used roasted barley or malt in beer production, requiring maltsers to undertake this part of the process. The closest maltster for Alabama brewers is in North Carolina.

Here are some excerpts from Brewing Battles about a prominent patriot who was also a maltster, Sam Adams.

Henry Adams, the great-great grandfather of both John Adams, the second president, and Samuel Adams, noted patriot, emigrated from Somerset County, England with his wife Edith to Mount Wollaston, now Braintree, in the Puritan colony of Massachusetts, around 1636. Henry’s arrival in the New World was twenty-seven years after the Mayflower and seven years after the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Company. He was a farmer.[1]

Henry Adams immigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony with his wife, eight sons, and a daughter. The youngest son, Joseph, was born in 1626. As an adult, Joseph pursued his economic livelihood by farming and malting, preparing barley for its use in fermentation and brewing.[2]

Joseph Adams’ malting operations seem to have passed down to Deacon Samuel Adams, father of his namesake, the patriot Sam Adams who was born in 1722. At the time of his birth, settlement in the New World was over one hundred years old and the production and consumption of alcoholic beverages, including beer, was thriving. His father’s malt house generated enough income to provide the family with a house, orchard, garden, and a few slaves.[3]

The Sugar Act brought Sam Adams to prominence as he wrote eloquently in opposition to the tax. Adams was concerned that the Sugar Act represented the first shot in a battle for a widespread taxation system. He argued for individual control over economic activity against the grasp of the British government. “If our trade may be taxed, why not our lands? Why not the produce of our lands and everything we possess or make use of?”[4]

Sam had inherited the malt house on Purchase Street in Boston from his father when he died in 1748. He had not shown any previous aptitude for business and had always been more interested in politics. By the 1760s Sam worked more often as a town tax collector than at the malt house. This position increased his political connections.[5]

The beer ration for revolutionary war soldiers reflected, in part, General George Washington’s fondness for beer. As hostilities heated up between the colonies and Britain prior to the Revolution, patriots such as Sam Adams and others encouraged Americans to “buy American.” Washington, who loved porter and often imported it from England, agreed wholeheartedly. In the 1790s Washington got his porter from Benjamin Morris, a member of the Morris and Perot brewing family.[6]

 

[1] “John Adams,” Dictionary of American Biography Base Set. American Council of Learned Societies, 1928-1936. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center, Farmington Hills, Michigan: Thomson Gale, 2006, http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC (accessed March 3, 2006); Benjamin H. Irwin, Samuel Adams, Son of Liberty, Father of Revolution (New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 2002), 6­­-9, 15.

[2] James Grant, John Adams, Party of One (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2005), 18.

[3] Irwin, Samuel Adams, 17.

[4] Quoted in Irvin, Samuel Adams, 47, 44-45; Baron, Brewed in America, 74-75.

[5] Irvin, Samuel Adams, 47, 44-45; Baron, Brewed in America, 74-75.

[6] Baron, Brewed in America, 113-117.

September 11, 18 years later

This is a post from ten years ago. That fall we were spending a month in New York City. This fall I am at home. In the past ten years, a lot has happened to both me and the country.

What is very surprising to me is that we are still involved in both Afghanistan and Iraq. We also have a president who has no clue how to run foreign policy. I fervently hope Trump will be a one-term President and then we can try to undo all the harm he has done.

My sympathy goes out to all who suffered a loss on that terrible day. May all of their memories be for a blessing.

September 11, 8 Years Later

Today is the eighth anniversary of the terrible events of September 11 2001. This is a particularly poignant day because we are in New York. Eight years ago, I had been in New York the day before, September 10, and woke up, at home. on the morning of the 11th to hear my husband’s voice on the answering machine, ” I don’t know if you have heard what happened in New York but my parents are okay.” As everyone knows, September 11 2001 was a picture perfect New York fall day and the 10th was as well. I felt very steeped in my New York roots because I had spent the evening of the 9th reading about the  pending city elections while I waited for my friend who I was visiting to come home.

Today, September 11, 2009, is not a beautiful day. The weather is  very bad, with high winds and heavy downpours. Because of these bad conditions, we have been unable to attend any commemorative event. Many of them were outdoors.

Despite that, since 2001, I have felt that this day should not be like every other day.  Apparently President  Obama and Congress agree with me. In March the federal government designated September 11th as a National Day of Service and Remembrance.  I really hope that this takes root and becomes how  people commemorate September 11th in future years.

My thoughts are with all the people who suffered a loss on that fateful day and it is my sincerest wish that nothing like that will ever happen to any person or country again.

Travel, Part 1

This post is a bit like “what I did on my summer vacation”; more accurately it is some of things I have been doing this summer, with pictures. In June,  Horizons for Homeless Children had an event for volunteers at the Smith College Botanical Garden. I am a volunteer; I go once a week and play with children who are living in a shelter.

In July, we went to New Orleans to visit my cousin and his wife. It was very hot but we  had a great time.  July is not usually the time I would visit New Orleans but my cousin was recently diagnosed with ALS and I wanted to see him. My brother died of ALS so this feels like a cruel joke. ALS is a terrible disease and I hope there will be a cure very soon.

While we were there we visited the World War II Museum. During the war my father helped produced parachutes while stationed in England and in Scotland.

Next week, I will tell you about what I did at the end of July and the beginning of August. I bet you can’t wait.