Humans take pride in their unique, perhaps exalted, place among creatures. We’re the only animal that can point to triumphs like space travel, nerve gas, for-profit prisons, and plastic-filled oceans. Until recent times, we also thought we stood alone in our taste for addling our brains with drugs. Alas, we can no longer claim that distinction: Dolphins, dogs, wallabies, waxwings, and loads of other species like to get loaded. [Read more…] about Wildlife Gone Wild: Animal Intoxication
The book Booze, Badboys & Bootleggers: North Country Tales Grandpa Never Told You (Self-Published, 2022) by James E. Reagen chronicles the early days of Prohibition in communities across St. Lawrence County. [Read more…] about Prohibition in St. Lawrence County: Booze, Badboys & Bootleggers
In Essex County, NY, Crown Point’s derelict Agway feed store, for decades a sad reminder of the decline of agriculture in the Champlain Valley, has been restored and is serving food, local beers, wine, craft cocktails and its own brand of spirits, War Cannon. [Read more…] about Distillery Business Opens in Long-Abandoned Agway Building
Albany, New York’s Dutch Church started a “Poor Fund,” probably shortly after the arrival of Dominie Johannes Megapolensis (1603–1670) in 1642. Disbursements were being made from the fund by 1647. Albany’s Patroon, Dutch merchants and others contributed to the collections of the church and the church in turn was made contributions to support the community’s impoverished residents. [Read more…] about Caring for Albany’s Poor: Some History
A loophole is an ambiguity or inadequacy in a legal text or a set of rules that people identify and use to avoid adhering to it. Exploiting loopholes in tax legislation by big corporations or wealthy individuals is a preoccupation of our time. The authorities fight a losing battle trying to plug them as lawyers specialize in finding new and profitable flaws. [Read more…] about Raines Law, Loopholes and Prohibition
An advertisement for The Hagey Institute first appeared in the Plattsburgh Sentinel in November of 1893 as an establishment which provided the “gold cure,” a permanent cure for the disease of addiction to liquor, morphine, opium and nicotine.
Offered was a “golden opportunity” for an absolute cure in just 21 days. With this promise, The Hagey Institute opened for business on November 4th, 1893 in the Winslow Block across from the Witherill Hotel on Margaret Street in Plattsburgh, Clinton County, NY. [Read more…] about The Hagey Institute’s Gold Cure for Addiction
Vannie Higgins (1897-1932) was a notorious Brooklyn gangster and rum-runner. He was born Charles Van Wyck Higgins in 1897 in Bay Ridge, son of Daniel and Helen (Nellie) Higgins. As a young boy he was involved in street corner brawls, then moved up the ladder to assaults, robbery and grand larceny. Although he had an extensive police record, he was usually able to squeeze out of any jail time. [Read more…] about Vannie Higgins: ‘Brooklyn’s Last Irish Boss’
On July 26, 1788, the Convention of the State of New York, meeting in Poughkeepsie, ratified the Constitution of the United States and, in doing so, was admitted to the new union as the eleventh of the original thirteen colonies joining together as the United States of America.
For New Yorkers, it had been an eventful year. [Read more…] about The African Burial Ground, Columbia University & Manhattan’s Grave-Robbers
Alcohol was a subject of deep concern for Indigenous nations and settler governments in early America, but, though all agreed that the alcohol trade was dangerous, they did not assess the problem or its remedies in the same ways. [Read more…] about Alcohol, Sovereignty, and Social Segregation in New Netherland
Dennis Warren left his job as a coal shoveler on the New York Central Railroad in Albany to ship out to the First World War. His transport ship had a close call with a German submarine on the way over, but got there in time to take part in what one of the bloodiest military campaigns in American history.
For Americans after the war, the Argonne would mean what Normandy meant just 25 years later – sacrifice. Sadly, that sacrifice in the Argonne Forest was never repaid to Dennis Warren, who met the death of a smuggler – running from an officious and invasive law on a treacherous mountain road near Port Henry on Lake Champlain.
According to the newsman who reported his death at the age of 29, “Canadian Ale was spread across the road.” [Read more…] about Smugglers & The Law: Prohibition In Northern New York