Forgrave After Holyoke Saloons

by Laurel | November 26th, 2011

Prohibition Poster

Prohibition Poster

A prohibition era article. I wonder if the unnamed saloon mentioned near the Marble Hall Hotel may have been The Bud.

26 November 1923

Reads Affidavits of Investigators About Three Places — Barkeepers Say They Pay For Protection.

Rev. William M. Forgrave, head of the Western Massachusetts district of the Anti-Saloon league read affidavits before a crowded audience at the Presbyterian church tonight, asserting that an investigator and his assistant bought whiskey at a place on High Street which was sold over the bar by the bartender; and that the bartender, whose name is withheld, but who was described in detail, told the two men on their asking, how it was so easy to sell there, that they paid for protection. The place was characterized as “a dirty place where bums hung out.” The bartender, according to the affidavits, not only said that he paid for protection but because of this protection the police did not molest him.

Said He Paid For Protection

He read a second affidavit by his investigators which described a “hell hole” on Adams street, where there were men staggering drunk about the place. The investigators bought whiskey which was sold to them from a quart bottle from behind the bar.

“It seems like old times,” remarked one of the investigators jocosely.

“Yes, everything goes” asserted the barkeeper.

“How do you do it?” asked the investigator admiringly.

“I am paying for protection and no one bothers me” said the barkeeper. This was in September, added Mr. Forgrave when there was going to be a “cleanup” of the city. They raided various other places at that time, some on Adams street.

The third affidavit read was for a saloon near the Marble Hall Hotel where the barkeeper sold whiskey to the investigators and in response to the queries said that he was a personal friend of a high official in the administration. Apparently he did not expect to be troubled.

Masked Criminal at the Grave of John Barleycorn

Masked Criminal at the Grave of John Barleycorn

To Organize For Law Enforcement

Rev. Mr. Forgrave, at the close of his address also gave notice that in a few days there would be an organization formed in Holyoke to urge and fight for the better enforcement of the prohibition law. At this meeting Rev. mr. Forgrave promised to read some more affidavits.

Mr. Forgrave also made the point in his introduction that contrary to an impression that he understood had got around, he was not here to launch any campaign against any Holyoke official. He was here to back up any official who was trying to honestly and sincerely enforce the law, or to “jack up” any official who was making no attempt to enforce the law. The issue of law enforcement was above politics. It was a moral issue. He then cited the case of Springfield and pointed out that Springfield six months or so ago said that the law could not be enforced; “but is being enforced much better,” and the padlock law is being carried into effect. The threat of the padlock is driving saloon after saloon out of business he said.

He told of the good work done in law enforcement at Pittsfield, and said that there were of course some saloons left — but not so many as in Holyoke. Lack of enforcement means lack of official efficiency, he said. We have found the great body of policemen honestly desirous of enforcing the law, but there is generally on the forces in the different communities a few that discredit the majority. The policeman that in the old saloons regime used to get his drink every hour or so and received money for overlooking violations of the law, will be found overlooking the violations of the law today. These men should be gotten rid of.

In the crowd were one or two unsuccessful candidates for office, several aldermen and other city officials and several well-known business and professional men.

Rev. Dr. John Allson lead the community singing and introduced the speakers, the other speaker being G. L. Briggs of Brookline, who for 18 years has been manager of the Boston floating hospital and who told of the work of law enforcement as carried on in the eastern part of the state, and gave a general talk on the possibility of the enforcement of the prohibition law.

Adapted from The Springfield Republican and the Library of Congress.

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