Clyde, Time Was: People got pickled

Published 7:03 pm Saturday, April 21, 2018

Time was, people were bad to take a drink.

Until they got tight, soused, tanked, pie-eyed, hammered, toe-down, tipsy, juiced, plowed, inebriated, sloshed, wasted, snockered, three sheets in the wind or just plain drunk as a snake.

Bars, inns, public houses, the historic Elizabeth Maxwell Steele tavern andn142 “ordinaries” kept people liquidated.

In early 1863, a distillery was needed to produce whiskey. The Medical Department of the Confederacy purchased a distillery from the Myers Brothers for $2,500. The property contained 23.5 acres, located just outside the boundaries of town, and included a 60-horsepower steam engine and a “300 bushel house,” a three-story rectifying house, malt house, office, cooper shop and three comfortable dwellings.

A notice in The Watchman said the plant needed 1,000 bushels of charcoal. Not a small operation in the basement.

There was a time, we didn’t drink, or said we didn’t. Prohibition, brought about by those temperance girls, created moonshine and the entire race care industry. What a good idea for a theme park.

Carry Nation came to save us and the lil’ ol’ church ladies who made home brew in their basements.

On July 4, 1907, D.L. Arey removed to Danville, Va., and continued to bottle.

Demijohns were filled with home brew and appeared on your back stoop, miraculously. Refillable jugs were given to customers from Prince William Brown, Shuman and W.H. Hoover and George A. Jackson.

Proverbs, Chapter 23:  “Be not among winebibbers for the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty. … Look not upon the wine when it is red, when it moveth itself aright … At the last it biteth like a serpent and stingeth like a viper.”

Andy at New Sarum says the Romans who drank wine were weirdos. Who needed a committee to find out “likker” is quicker?

The “wets,” led by A.H. Boyden, waged a “campaign of education” and fully 10,000 people came to town for the vote. “There has never been a day like this in Salisbury,” reported The News & Observer on May 26, 1908. “This old town and county, inhabited mainly by people of culture and refinement, saw ladies of the loftiest character publicly jeered and abused, ministers of the gospel outrageously slandered, and imported public speakers” run out of town.

Southern families spoke well of their own “fondness for drinking. Yankees made excuses for drunks in their family. Drunkard’s Path was a quilt pattern.

Empty bottles have become quite the rage for collectors, as evidenced by the Piedmont Bottle Show in Badin. A good condition Salisbury “likker” jug can bring big money or you can see a complete collection at the Rowan Museum. A Cheerwine “cherry” bottle or a Spencer “train” bottle bring the most for sodas.

Go look in the crawl space or behind your chimney in the attic. Why did people want to hide and drink? Baptists made us do that.

Now, the top 10 percent of drinkers consume an average of 72 cans of beer weekly. The country drinks  6.3 billion gallons yearly. How about a lifetime of happiness?

How far have we gone down the drain?

Raging drink! thou’lt not enslave us;

Sparkling bowl! Thou now art dim;

Angel temp’rance stoops to save us,

From the death within thy brim.

— 1850 William Tappan

“At one time with a dozen saloons, half dozen distilleries and two wholesale whiskey warehouses, Salisbury was next to Chicago as ‘the whiskeyest soaked city’ the manufacture and sale of ardent spirits was the leading industry.”

Who paid off the EDC to keep quiet?

So the next time you feel the urge to get pickled, potted or plastered, the AA boys will try to help you out of your predicament. Resist. It’s enough to drive a grown man to drink. Reinforcement therapy.

O tempora, o mores. Go ahead. Have a little drink.

Clyde is a Salisbury artist.

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