May 23 - 1922: Free booze floats ashore

1925: Legislating morality failed once before. 1982: "Save the Bales!"
38' cabin picket boat similar to the one used in this story. Diagram courtesy of the United States Coast Guard.

1922: Dry Navy to wage rum war relentlessly

Coast Guard's new armada is now preparing to extend its blockade along the whole Atlantic Coast

During Memorial Day week in 1925 rum running boats were lying idle at their moorings all along the Northeast coasts. From Montauk to Barnegat, from Campobello to Cape Cod, the greatest illicit industry that America has ever known had come almost to a halt for a few days as a flotilla of Coast Guard boats were on the prowl for moonshine miscreants. The Armada of rum runners that been lurking offshore more than four years, laden with contraband to be transferred to smaller local boats, disappeared into the mists of last week, bound north or south or standing out to sea upon the chance that vigilance might relax. See the reprint from The New York Times below.

The respite for the continuous delivery of illegal booze lasted about as long as it takes to get some pot today - it was as easy to get a drink around here during prohibition as it is to score some grass today from a teenaged neighbor's kid.

1922: Free booze floats ashore - 1982: "Save the Bales!"

A Coast Guard history mentions that a December 1922 northeaster brought at least three rum schooners to ruin: Jennie Bell, Madonna V, and Annie L. Spindler. The crew of the first escaped from their grounded vessel, the crew of the second was rescued and captured, as was the crew of the third schooner. As Spindler was breaking up in the surf near Cape Cod, a substantial crowd gathered hoping to share in the salvage of her cargo, an unknown quantity of contraband whiskey. 

A couple decades ago the same thing happened off the Cape when a pot-smuggler threw his cargo overboard as the Coast Guard neared. The rallying cry along of beaches then was "Save the Bales!" That's a popular t-shirt design of that era.


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