Friday, December 14, 2012

Birdman Locates Still

Front page news: "Birdman Ferrets Out Still Skillfully Hidden in Wilds of Marlborough; Jail Owner." The article began "Great are the possibilities of the airplane. It remains for the State police to employ aircraft for detecting crime of the bootlegging brand."
Just a couple years earlier on January 16, 1920, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution instituting Prohibition began. Ironically, the people of Connecticut never ratified that Amendment, but as a nation and a union, we became obliged to recognize and carryout the law. We think of moonshiners as "southern good old boys," but reality is, the illegal manufacturing of alcohol had no state boundary limits. Sounds a bit like illegal drugs today. Enforcing the law in 1923, however, landed Jacob Rogers of Marlborough a 30 day sentence in Hartford County jail and a fine of $434.75. The still was found, by the help of an unidentified aircraft and pilot who sketched a map of the location, pinpointing on a sequestered nook in the wildest part of Marlborough converging near the point where East Hampton, Colchester and Marlborough converge.
Apprehended by State Police and Grand Juror Henry Cordes, they found a full still at work and Rogers bossing the job. The State Police took the still, destroyed the mash and confiscated what little liquor was about the place. Justice was swift. Rogers was taken to a local Justice of the Peace where he pleaded guilty and was immediately transferred to jail. According to police, Roger had so skillfully concealed his movements that the officers could not find his still without the assistance of the birdman whose map directed them to the still.
Last Wednesday, December 5th was the 79th anniversary of the ratification of the 21st Amendment to the Constitution - Repeal of Prohibition. As reported in the November 11, 1932 edition of the The East Hampton News, East Hampton citizens voted 560 yes for repeal, 113 no.
The great moral experiment, a failure of monumental proportions, ended with joyous celebration.

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