Last updated: January 18, 2007
The Lusk Herald
January 17, 2007
Bob Vollmer Remembers: Prohibition in Niobrara County
Years ago when selling alcohol was considered illegal, a woman by the name of Carrie Nation was going through the country, organizing rallies and preaching the evils of the drink; with hammers in hand, she and her grey would literally tear up a bar.
She had car troubles out north of Lusk and was graciously helped out by a certain member of our county, who was well liked and a Good Samaritan. He towed her car into his place and gave her room and board that night. He brought both her and her car into my dad's garage. She kept singing the praises of this certain man, saying he was a true gentleman and a good man with virtuous ways. She was soon on her way. We all had a pretty good laugh because her hero was one of the biggest and best bootleggers in the county.
As portrayed in the movies, garages played an important part in the transporting of whiskey. Gangs from back East made and sold whiskey. The bootleggers needed to devise a plan that would get them the supplies they needed to make the whiskey without the Feds finding out. Large amounts of grain and sugar sold would be watched by the Feds, so the bootleggers traveled all over the western states and paid farmers and ranchers to get the supplies for them and in turn they would be rewarded with cases of whiskey. Quite often the trade would occur in garages.
As a young boy helping in my father's garage, my brother and I would see the large limos come into the garage. We would stay up front with Dad while the exchange would occur. You never talked about it. One time a big car came in with carburetor problems, my dad let me work on it. As I was working, I could hear the bottles clanking as they transported the contents of the limo into another vehicle. The driver and my dad watched as I took the carburetor off and gave it to my Dad, who had the other car done and it had left. I put the carburetor back on.
I was standing beside my Dad when the driver paid him. The driver said to me, "You did a good job, son" and stuck what I thought was a dollar bill in my pocket. I was happy as the dickens to get a whole dollar. The only other time I would get a dollar bill was on the Fourth of July, when my Dad would give us one. Heck, it would buy fireworks, candy and all kinds of things, and still have ten or twenty cents left over.
Dad told me to get the jug that he always kept in the corner of the shop and asked me what I did get. I told him a dollar and he said that I sure better check. It was a twenty-dollar bill. I was pretty happy about that.
Dad and I went home for lunch, I remember Dad telling Mom that I got a big tip that day. Mom said, "What did you get, a quarter?" I showed her the money and she quickly took it and said that that would be enough to buy me new school clothes for all year. She did give me a dollar or two out of it and I did have new school clothes that year.
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