Me in the Middle of Reading a Memoir (Prohibition)

Today is my Uncle Jack’s Birthday!

My Uncle Jack, who is my father’s youngest brother, came to visit me over the holidays (in spirit).  My oldest son shares the same birthday with him ~ January 22nd.  I received a gift in the mail from my brother that transported me back to Uncle Jack’s childhood in the early 1900s.  In 1979, in the years before he died, he had penned a memoir ~ I Too Remember ~ covering 1918 through 1928 when he was four years old through fourteen years old.  There might be more memories put to writing about other years of his life that his children and grandchildren may have.  We don’t know because we lost track of them over the years.  This particular manuscript was sent to my mother and father’s home, our homestead where we grew up and my father grew up, and covered a lot of memories of when my grandfather and grandmother moved into the newly built home when Uncle Jack was only seven years old.  His creative writing is very good and his memory is priceless.  

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One account of life during his childhood was of the Prohibition Years (See Wikipedia).  The account was so well written that I decided to do a post about it here on my blog in his honor.  

RIP Uncle Jack and thank you for being the beautiful soul that you are! 

Happy Birthday!

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I Too Remember

by John H. Quinn

Poor Dad!  From 1919 until 1933, we had what was called Prohibition.  All the Breweries had to shut down.  If someone happened to have some beer, and you bought it and got caught, you could have to pay $1,000 fine or 6 months in jail.  Soon the gangsters started making beer and whiskey even though it was illegal.  Soon the old saloons opened (illegally).  They were called Speakeasies.  As time went by, most of the time no one bothered them.  Dad didn’t like what they made and did without beer until we moved to our new home.  (I could write a book about the days during Prohibition, but I don’t feel that it is associated directly with my childhood.  If any of you would like to know about those days, I’m sure there are hundreds of books you can read).

After we got settled in our new home, Dad bought all the things that were needed to make beer.  It was called “Home Brew”.  Some of the things he bought, that I remember, were:

  1.  A thick earthenware pot.  It was called a crock.
  2.  Bottles and metal caps to put on top of the bottles.
  3.  Some kind of a gadget that you would put a bottle cap in, then put the filled bottle underneath, pull down the lever and it would put the cap on real tight.  You had to wait a few weeks before you could drink the beer.
  4.  Malt, hops and yeast.  He used water and that’s all I can remember.

Dad and Mother would also make Root Beer (for us kids) and would use the same gadget to put on the caps.

Later, he made Grape Wine and Whiskey.  I’ll tell you just a little about him making Whiskey.  Not about what he used to make it with, but about other things.

My Dad was mainly a beer drinker.  However, occasionally he would have a little whiskey.  He didn’t make the whiskey for that reason.  Here are a few reasons that I know of that he did:

Both of his brothers (Henry and Tom) enjoyed whiskey mixed with seltzer water ~ to be used for medicinal purposes:  My two grand-aunts used to make cough medicine and it worked.  Here is what they used when they made cough medicine:

Honey, lemon, whiskey and rock candy (the rock candy was crystallized sugar).

(See about Grandpa Malloy after I tell you what happened to my Uncle Henry one day.)

One day we were all in the kitchen and Dad had just brought up two bottles of whiskey that he had made.  When it is first made it is 200 Proof (very, very strong).  He first had to cut it (I’m not sure how he did this.) so that it would be around 100 Proof (OK for drinking) and he had to color it (brown, like you see in the stores).  He hadn’t started to do this yet when Uncle Henry came in.  He asked my Dad if he could try some of the whiskey.  Dad told him that he hadn’t cut it yet.  My uncle said that he didn’t care and poured himself a big drink.  He then walked over to the sink where he could get a glass of water to drink after he drank the whiskey.  Well, he drank all the Whiskey that he had in the glass and before he could reach the cold water faucet, he seemed to float down onto the floor where he passed out.  We were all scared!  Dad put cold, wet towels to his head and he came around.  He was OK.  He said to my Dad, “Wow, that sure packs dynamite!”  He always enjoyed Dad’s whiskey after that but he would wait for Dad to cut it.

While we were moving to our new home, my grandparents bought a tiny farm in Meadowbrook., New York, not far from Newburgh.  One winter my grandfather got awful sick.  My parents received word that they had better come up to the farm as Grandpa was very, very sick.  My parents went right up!  When they arrived, my grandmother told them that he had received the last rites of the church and there was very little hope that he would live.  My mother and father then went in to see Grandpa.  They only stayed a few minutes and as they were leaving, my grandfather called to my Dad.  My Dad went over … and Grandpa asked him if he brought any of the whiskey he made.  My Dad said that he didn’t.  My grandfather then asked him if he could bring some up … He felt that it was the kind of medicine that he needed to get well.  My father told him that he would go right back home and return as quickly as possible.  My Dad went right home, picked up a pint of his whiskey and headed back.  (It took awhile, as you might realize.)  He  brought it in to my grandfather who asked him to pour him a big shot.  He drank it right down.  He then told my Dad to leave the bottle on the table by his bed.  My parents told my grandmother they had to leave and asked her to let them know immediately if anything should happen.

A couple of days later my parents received word that my Grandpa was up and walking around.  (Come Spring, he was out in the fields working!)

The doctor said it was a miracle!  But … Grandpa (and my Dad) knew it was my Dad’s whiskey that saved him.  Believe it or not, it happened again, (over a number of years since that time) in the same way – Three Times!!

The Rise of Speakeasies

 

 

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Me In The Middle of Life (2018 New Year Inspiration)

114 - White Water Rafting

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I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.


(Dawna Markova, b. 1942)

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Nelson County Sketch #5

(c) mlq

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Me In The Middle Of Being A Strong Woman (New Year 2018 Inspiration)

My Word 2014 #2

(c) Mary Lou Q

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“I wish I had known from the beginning that I was born a strong woman.  What a difference it would have made!  I wish I’d known that I was born a courageous woman; I’ve spent so much of my life cowering.  How many conversations would I not only have started but finished if I had known I possessed a warrior’s heart?  I wish I’d known that I’d been born to take on the world; I wouldn’t have run from it for so long, but to it with open arms.”

~ Sarah Ban Breathnach ~  ♥

Me in the Middle of 2017 Roundup

Out with the Old and in with the New!  Here’s a wrap-up of 12 of my posts from 2017.  Hope you enjoy!!

January 2017

Me in the Middle of Love/Hate for Social Media

(23 Likes, 4 Shares and 13 Comments)

sisters-on-snapchat-2

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February 2017

Me in the Middle of Pulling the Plug on Cable

(22 Likes, 18 Shares and 12 Comments)

cable-tv

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March 2017

Me in the Middle of Ireland

(25 Likes, 6 Shares, 6 Comments)

A Guinness A Day Oct 1

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April 2017

Me in the Middle of ReBlogging Faith

(13 Likes, 2 Shares and 8 Comments)

DSCN3244

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May 2017

Me in the Middle of Self Acceptance

(20 Likes, 5 Shares and 31 Comments)

Joanne Sharpe's Class 1

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June 2017

Me in the Middle of Kindness Role Model

(  21 Likes,   6 Shares,    15 Comments)

Row_of_candles

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July 2017

Me in the Middle of Order, Disorder and Reorder

(13 likes, 29 Shares and 7 Comments)

Order

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August 2017

Me in the Middle of ETSY.com

(8 Likes)

Christmas Roses #2

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September 2017

Me in the Middle of 9/11 Poem

( 8 Likes and 2 comments)

september-11-fireman

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October 2017

Me in the Middle of Leadership Part I

(10 Likes and 5 Shares)

free-leader-3

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November 2017

Me in the Middle of Creative Writing ~ Undertow

(12 Likes, 4 Shares)

014 - The Ocean

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December 2017

Me in the Middle Holding Space for My Country

(13 Likes, 27 Shares and 7 Comments)

Holding Space #2

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Reach, 2018, Sun, Jump, Year, Calendar

Me In The Middle Of Feeling Christmas Spirit

Christmas Roses #2 (2)

(c) mlq

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~ The Christmas Rose ~

She stood beside the doorway softly weeping,
without the slightest gift for the newly born
who lay within a manger, peaceful, sleeping.

Three travelers, all richly dressed, but worn,
brought royal treasures for him in their keeping ~
the shepherd maiden wept unseen, forlorn.
In the chill of winter, she had found no rose
nor blossom; ‘midst the rocky hills none grows.

An angel saw her sorrow; understanding
at once the reason, swept away the snow,
revealing there some Christmas Roses. Handing
these white and waxen flowers to her, “Go –
an offering so pure is right,” commanding
with gentleness that only angels know.
The gift was made – beneath the angel’s wink,
the petals blushed from white to palest pink.

© Margaret I. Gibson

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Some of the best memories I have of past Christmas holidays were when I let go of expectations and just let it happen.

 Ever since I was a little girl I’ve felt that Christmas was meant for all people of good will.  It never dawned on me that Christmas would belong to just one religion.  I knew it was the birth of Jesus ~ the tiny infant who was born in a humble stable ~ who came to love the world and the message he brought to us was to love one another.

My early memories of Christmas were more of the feeling of togetherness, belonging and acceptance.  There was a feeling of magic in the air.  There weren’t many gifts under the tree ~ yet it was my favorite time of the year.  There was something infectious about the outpouring of Good Will as you went about the day meeting people along the way.

When my children were growing up it was fun taking on the passing along of this tradition.  Seeing their eyes brighten with anticipation as the day grew nearer, and gathering them around the Nativity Scene to impress upon them that it was this humble birth we were celebrating.

Then there were the times when I was weary and burdened with worries and stresses.  When I didn’t have enough money to get them gifts or a tree.  When I watched the hustle and bustle of every one caught up in the season and felt isolated from it.  I thought it was all going to pass us by.  Surprisingly, these were the times I remember the most because it’s at times like these that even the smallest gift and the smallest gestures of kindness and love mean the most.  It was at times like these that I experienced what the real meaning of Grace is.  It was at times like these that I learned that Christmas happens every day when we’re open to it.  

That humble birth of that one small child speaks to all of us about the simplicity of Love ~ A Gift that shouts out at a World that desperately needs it.  It’s not a gift that belongs to any specific religion.  It’s a gift that belongs to all of us!  

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“Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:10).