From the lodge….
Most of the stories I tell from childhood about my family have been kind and favorable, but all of us have some that are of a questionable nature. I have mentioned before that my mother was a single mom and had to work to support us. She washed and ironed for several families, stretched curtains and cleaned houses. It was hard work but it provided a living for us. The problem was, as the Depression worsened people had to begin doing more of these things for themselves.
I remember mom telling us we had to find some way to make the gas and light bill, money for groceries and, with school to begin shortly, clothes and school supplies. She told us she had decided to make and sell home brew.
Prohibition was in full swing and she made great beer, according to all who had sampled it. We had all the equipment already in place because we had made root beer for a long time. Mom said we would turn the summer kitchen into our beer-making work place. We could not talk about it because it was illegal to make beer and sell it. I guess Mom had an early version of a Cottage Industry!
Our capital consisted of $5.00 from the next week’s grocery money, $11.00 mom had saved and $3.50 from Omer’s paper route. We bought two blocks of Red Star Yeast, two cans of malt and a box of 100 bottle caps. We were in business! Mom had friends she could trust and men really were missing their beer, so it proved to be an easy sell.
Omer and I would fill the bottles, cap them and deliver to the customers. We would put a dozen bottles in the red wagon, wrap towels in between the bottles and set out to make our deliveries. Each dozen bottles brought us $3.00. A quart of Edna’s beer was 25 cents. Each batch brought us $12.00. Thank goodness there weren’t child protective services back then or Mom would have been in jail and Omer and I in foster homes!
We did have two wonderful customers – the two policemen of Car 42. Car 42 housed our “beat cops.” Their call box was on the telephone pole just a few doors from our house. They bought 6 bottles of beer every week. Our business was good but prohibition ended and that was pretty much the end of Edna’s beer business. However, that beer bought my school clothes and school supplies at California elementary school. Maybe this was the wrong thing to do, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
The main thing was, Al Capone or Bugsy Siegel never did come down from Chicago to give us trouble. I guess they were afraid of us….