The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Mark Simonson

April 13, 2013

Decline of Prohibition led to return of beer in April 1933


Just about a month later the Otsego County Alcoholic Beverage Control board held its organizational meeting on Friday, May 12. The control board was formed to recommend applicants to the state beer control board for permanent licenses.

“The business of dispensing alcoholic beverages will be maintained at a high level,” the county board told the Star. “The bootlegger will not be tolerated. It is going to be tough for the ‘tough places’ to get along, and we mean this.”

Also in May, voters in New York prepared to go to the polls to decide on whether to repeal the 18th Amendment.

Some who voted for Oneonta to go dry in 1918 made a final appeal to keep Prohibition in place. About 300 attended a rally on Sunday evening, May 21, at the First United Methodist Church on Chestnut Street.

The Rev. Virgil M. Cosby of the First United Presbyterian Church was one of the speakers, telling his listeners, “When the 18th Amendment became law, the people who had fought for it sat down to enjoy peace, thinking that nothing could be done to remove it. But when the Christian lies down, the devil works harder than ever, and today we are beginning to realize that those forces we thought were dead were working all the time.”

New York voted for the repeal on Tuesday, May 23. Locally the results were quite close, as 4,965 voted for repeal while 4,699 voted against it in Otsego County. Cherry Valley, Maryland, Middlefield, Morris, Oneonta city, Otsego, Richfield, Roseboom and Springfield were the towns with “wet” majorities. Of the “dry” towns against repeal, Edmeston had the most lopsided vote, with 75 for repeal, 281 against it.

Readers of The Oneonta Star observed state after state favoring the repeal of the 18th Amendment in the next several months. All bodies of government getting revenue from excise taxes and licenses began to enjoy seeing their coffers filling up once again, and the repeals were putting some people back to work during the Great Depression.

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Mark Simonson

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