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“To the White House!” directed the dispatcher of Washington’s Abner Drury Brewery at 12:01 a. m. last Friday morning. “Let her go!”

Traffic was cleared as the Drury truck thundered down Pennsylvania Avenue bearing the device: PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT, THE FIRST BEER IS FOR YOU. Crowds shouted enthusiastically at the tradesmen’s entrance, a Marine guard happily guzzled a bottle from one of the two Presidential cases. Six Hawaiians thumped their guitars.

The man who had fulfilled his campaign promise within 33 days of taking office, was asleep when the first First Beer was stored in his pantry. Next morning a plane brought two more cases from six Milwaukee brewers, who wished the President “Long life, prosperity. Prosit!” Also by plane, from Chicago’s Atlas Brewery came a 5-ft. bottle of brew. Although his wife will serve beer “to those who like it,” the President turned over his testimonial samples to the National Press Club.

In Manhattan at 12:01 the Anheuser-Busch neon-lit clock in Times Square (a replica of the pre-War one) which sounds chimes by electric transcription, broadcast “Happy Days Are Here Again.” Later in the morning another great U. S. citizen got his beer. Drawn by six big brewery horses, a shiny red Busch stake wagon clattered up to the entrance of the Empire State Building. Out of the door stepped Alfred Emanuel Smith in velvet-collared overcoat. Regarded by his whooping admirers as a martyr to national Prohibition reform in 1928. he received his case of Budweiser with a grin. “This is surely a happy day for us all,” said the Happy Warrior. “My only regret is that the wagonload is not all mine.” The Smith case had been flown from St. Louis overnight. All the other cases were dummies.

Throughout the U. S., thirsty citizens, additionally impelled by the patriotic notion that a depression might be drowned in 3.2% beer, began lapping it up with gusto. Within 24 hours, estimated Editor Joseph Dubin of Brewery Age, between 1,000,000 and 1,500,000 bbl. of beer had been consumed.

New York City was not sure until midweek whether or not it was going to get its beer on the day of national legalization. Like most states, New York had not matched the legislative celerity of Congress. Its Legislature, haggling over the details of a regulatory code for brewers and vendors, paused in its squabble long enough to slap a $1-a-bbl. tax (Federal tax: $5) on beer. Into the breach stepped puffy Mayor John Patrick O’Brien of New York, who ordered his Health Department to license manufacturers for $100, wholesalers at $50, retailers variously at $15, $10 and $5 to operate temporarily.

Still anxious lest they offend their Dry enemies, the New York brewers, through Col. Jacob Ruppert, had announced that the new brew would not be delivered until 6 a. m. on historic April 7 so that there would be no “carnival of untoward celebration.” Next day at lunch time, New Yorkers thronged forth to try their beer. First problem was to find it. Most hotels and clubs were serving but elsewhere distribution was capricious. Some soft drink stands and cafeterias had it, some did not. Householders found 3.2% beer at most chain groceries, but late the first day most stocks were sold out.* On one point the entire populace seemed agreed: a bottle of 3.2% beer was about as stimulating as a box of chocolate cigars.

No arrests for drunkenness (except a few “smoke” victims) were recorded in New York City during the first 24 hours of legalized beer, a near-record.

Chicago, heedless to Col. Ruppert’s national plea, got its beer cold and at the zero hour. While sirens, pistols and cowbells sounded, State Street establishments dispensed to rows four deep. Louis Schneider, winner of the Indianapolis Memorial Day auto race in 1931, piloted a beer truck bound out of town. The Illinois Legislature having failed to agree on a beer dispensary bill, Acting Mayor Frank Corr announced that no city licenses would be levied, that Chicago would be on “beer probation.”

St. Louis sat up late to get the first taste of its famed foam. Citizens waited in their cars outside the Busch and Falstaff breweries, only ones operating, for the first issue of 3.2%. The Busch brewery had a brass band ready to play at midnight. When midnight came, steam whistles and sirens drowned the Busch music. By afternoon, the St. Louis beer supply was woefully low.

Milwaukee, the city that Schlitz made famous, welcomed beer back with special editions of its newspapers. Here again the State had provided no regulatory legislation. Milwaukee licensed 4,207 “taverns”; the thirsty stormed Juneau Avenue breweries at midnight. At the Miller Brewery, beer was passed out free to thirsters who brought milk bottles, tomato cans. Wisconsin Avenue was jammed with celebrants, some of whom stood on the tops of their cars singing “Sweet Adeline.” Pabst had its product, screamingly escorted by police sirens, at downtown hotels eight minutes after legalization.

Vermonters in Burlington had the chance of drinking their first beer, which does not become legal in the State until May 1, on ferry boats in Lake Champlain, whose waters are under Federal jurisdiction.

In Baltimore, whose State Government had just passed local option laws, Henry Louis Mencken, famed for his beering, quaffed a glass before anxious spectators in the Rennert Hotel bar. “Pretty good.” he pronounced. “Not bad at all. Fill it again.”

At Louisville, Ky., the Louisville & Nashville Railroad was enjoined in a test suit to see whether it was legal to ship beer through the State, which was still bone-Dry.

Lever or Club? Last week both professional Wets and Drys wished they knew the answer to the question: What effect will beer have upon the war for Repeal? Wets prayed that the first excitement over beer’s return would quickly subside into a system of non-political control which would demonstrate the country’s capacity to handle hard liquor with decent moderation, a lever for Repeal.

No honest Wet was more concerned about the future than Commander Fred George Clark of the Crusaders. The Clark doctrine is that the liquor problem has three sides—the Wet side, the Dry side, the Right side. Last month he sent a telegram to Wet and Dry organizations saying that the return of beer presented a situation which would lead either to true temperance or to the return of the “liquor trade” and the saloon. He wanted cooperation in a nationwide campaign for socially constructive liquor laws.

Dr. Clarence True Wilson, Methodist moralist, and in less generous vein Dr. Francis Scott McBride for the Anti-Saloon League, promised to cooperate. Not so Mrs. Ella Alexander Boole, the bustling matriarch of the W. C. T. U., whose plan is to find horrid examples of what 3.2% beer can do and use them to club down Repeal in perhaps 16 states, three more than enough to kill it.* She replied to Crusader Clark: “I assume you wired me for publicity purposes. …”

In Washington, Mrs. Charles Henry Sabin and her ladies convened at the fourth annual convention of the W. O. N. P. R. Said she: “It would be glorious to continue in the vein of ecstasy, but it would be premature. . . . Repealists now face perhaps the hardest engagement of our great fight.”

First Engagement of the fight was pitched in Michigan last week. It resulted in a 3-to-1 victory for Wets and the 21st Amendment. The vote: for Repeal, 834,675; against, 271,052.

Next day Wisconsin instructed all 15 of its convention delegates to vote for Repeal April 25.

* Many a woman, taught to drink by Prohibition, last week hooked a French heel over a brass rail. Tower Magazines, Inc. distributors of mass periodicals through Woolworth Stores, asked its middleclass, female readership if they would serve beer at home. “Yes” answered 76%. * States which Drys believe will fail to ratify the 21st Amendment: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah.

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