My program, Rum Runners of Lake Erie, Gangsters or Good Guys? was scheduled for April 11, 2020 at the Maritime Museum of Sandusky but Covid 19, a.k.a. Corona Virus, has changed plans and lives for all of us. As much as I would like to think my program is essential, it is not.
My favorite part of my program is audience interaction with story sharing and questions, so I asked the museum curator if I can reschedule at a later date, and he was happy to comply. Since the museum is planning a Prohibition display on the lake's rum running activities early summer 2021, he suggested my program to be rescheduled for then. Actually, it's perfect timing.
Meanwhile, I thought you may be interested in how another global pandemic over one hundred years ago may have helped fuel Prohibition. It was the Spanish Flu of 1918 that was brought to America by returning U.S. WW1 soldiers. President Woodrow Wilson also contacted this virus during the signing of the peace Treaty of Versailles in France which ended the war. Initially, there was a hush up of the virus to keep up the moral of soldiers and not create panic in civilians, but when the numbers of sickness and deaths rose rapidly, "stay at home" and self quarantine were ordered. Churches and schools, just like now, were closed, and sports, events and meetings canceled. Those states or municipalities that heeded the guidelines and orders saw a significant decline in the virus as opposed to places that were more slack. In all, 675,000 Americans died of the Spanish flu.
So how does this tie into Prohibition? With the end of these two horrific events, WW1 and the Spanish Flu, the nation erupted into a period of joy and relief. Alcohol flowed as the nation "partied a little too hardy," ushering in the Roaring Twenties. Temperance organizations put pressure on the government more than ever to reign in this other "plague" of unbridled drunkenness, thus the passage of Prohibition Law which went into effect one year later in 1920.
Did the Spanish Flu's end fuel Prohibition? It easily could have been a contributing factor as a relieved nation celebrated both the end of the virus and the war.
Now, just as then, this storm can be weathered, and we can rise from it. Keep a "can do" mindset and realize we are all in this together. This, too, shall pass.
Stay strong, stay healthy,