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Rum did it!

I was looking up some late 19th century obituaries in the local papers and came away with a clearer sense of the amount of temperance propaganda that appeared in the media at that time. The first article that caught my attention was about an unfortunate fire that occurred in the General Qunby(sp?) Hook & Ladder House on Main Street where a young man, passed out drunk on a couch, died. The second piece, which appeared in the next week’s paper, was less tragic but still pretty grim. Here it is in full:

“-Mr. Patterson of Lewiston, who has had charge of the brick work on the York corporation, completes his work this week.  Mr. P. in conversation with a well-known Saco gentleman a few days ago, said that many of his workmen would have attended to their business more satisfactorily if Biddeford rum hadn’t frequently got the better of them. He made the statement that he often withheld the wages of the men for the reason that payday meant to them a day of disgraceful inebriation, made so by liquor obtained in Biddeford.” (Union & Journal, December 3, 1880.)

Which makes me curious–was Saco dry at this time? I hadn’t heard about that but I wonder if it was so. Also, apparently a “turkey raffle” was slang for going out to have some drinks, and it comes up often in the little quips about crime and public disturbances that appeared in the papers of the time. Lots of interesting questions to think about with this!

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