It's quite likely that W. C. Fields would rather be in Philadelphia in 1921.
At least if the other choice were Canada. On April 18th the Ontario government
announced prohibition, to take effect in three months. Québec province
would take control of all alcohol sales on May first. In October New Brunswick
would ban the importation of liquor. Canada's good neighbor to the south
would do it's part, even though it wasn't ready to curb its own citizens'
tippling. On October 21st the U. S. banned the shipment of foreign liquor
through its territory. A little over a month later President Harding signed
the Willis-Campbell Act, forbidding doctors to prescribe beer for medicinal
purposes. Prohibition wasn't the goal as much as safety; the act was meant
to ban unregulated alcohol-containing patent medicines.
Food as well as drink was in the news. Europe, still recovering from the
recent World War, suffered from a serious lack of it. In January John D.
Rockefeller pledged $1,000,000 for European relief. The following day Midwestern
farmers donated 15,000,000 bushels of corn for Europe. Global politics interfered
in Russia when the League of Nations refused famine aid, blaming the new
government for its country's problems. On December 22nd the U. S. passed
a Russian Famine Relief Act, authorizing the expenditure of $20,000,000
for the purchase of foodstuffs.
Fruit seems to have been on some minds in 1921. On August 9th Carlo Sanders,
Howard Johnson, Philip Bartholomae and Guy Bolton's musical comedy Tangerine
opened at Broadway's Casino Theater and ran for 3347 performances. Serge
Prokofiev's opera Love for Three Oranges premiered in Chicago. And
further west, in Idaho, Lydia Southard was jailed for killing her fourth
husband with a poisoned apple pie, gaining the nickname Lady Bluebeard.
Right here in western New York Alice Monteith Gould opened a restaurant
on Main Street in Batavia. It would become known as The Berry Patch. Rochester
grocers John and Walter Wegman bought the Seel Grocery Company and began
combining their grocery and bakery operations. Down in New York City the
D'Agostino brothers arrived from Abruzzi, Italy. Nicola becomes a pushcart
peddlar and his brother Pasquale (Patsy) a butcher. Their subsequent grocery
chain would dominate Manhattan food buying patterns right up into our own
Speaking of effects on our own time, in 1921 there was a young man working
for George Williamson's candy company whose main duty was to run errands
for everyone else, what we would call a 'gofer'. He was in constant demand.
It's a good thing everyone there knew his name. Otherwise, today you would
go through the supermarket checkout at Wegmans or D'Agastinos and pick up
a Hey, Kid candy bar, instead of an Oh, Henry.
© 1998 David Minor / Eagles Byte