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  #1  
Old 12-19-2009, 12:10 PM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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How Much Did Cowboys (Old West) Drink?

I was just watching some old Howard Hawks/John Wayne westerns on AMC. It seems (to me), that the first thing that the cowboys did (after a long train drive), was to hit the local saloon and get hammered.
Was this the case? Was the saloon the center of life in these western cow towns?
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  #2  
Old 12-19-2009, 12:16 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
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I'm wondering if their stereotypically wild behavior might be caused by rolling in to a town having been very dry for weeks, and then resuming their previous alcohol consumption immediately without ramping up, so the first day the alcohol causes double the effect in behavior per drink. Not that I have experience in that or anything.
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Old 12-19-2009, 12:22 PM
mswas mswas is offline
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Heh, I imagine you can figure it out by watching how people drink now. I doubt it was much different. They drank when they wanted to unwind, and they got drunk no more or less than your average working class bloke. aqm
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Old 12-19-2009, 12:39 PM
wedgehed wedgehed is offline
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Folks like Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, & Wild Bill Hickcock made their reputations by taming cowtowns. Liquored up cowboys carrying firearms isn't a movie invention.
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Old 12-19-2009, 01:05 PM
DMark DMark is offline
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If you have ever gone to a real "Ghost Town" you will note that they all had a saloon. That should indicate it was a popular attraction in town - I mean, what else did they have to do but drink and whore around?
Plus, if I were out working with stinking cattle for weeks on end, you can damn well bet I would get hammered out of my mind in a saloon the minute I got to a real town.
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Old 12-19-2009, 01:55 PM
Lumpy Lumpy is offline
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To more or less reiterate what's been said: cowboys often spent months out on the unfenced range or on remote ranches. They'd probably be alloted a daily ration of liquor but they had long hours of hard work to perform each and every day (cattle don't know when it's Sunday). The culmination of their work for that season would be the cattle drive, when the cattle were driven to the nearest railhead to be shipped out to places like Chicago and St. Louis to be slaughtered. It was then that the owners would receive payment for the cattle sold and pay off what they owed the hands. So you would have a phenomenon similar to what happened when a ship made port: the hands would get payed, go on a binge of drinking, whoring and gambling, and once they were dead broke it would be time to start the yearly cycle again.
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  #7  
Old 12-19-2009, 02:03 PM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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Basically they did the same thing in Australia. Many a man died from being an alcoholic.
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Old 12-19-2009, 02:35 PM
AuntiePam AuntiePam is online now
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Something I've wondered about but haven't bothered to research is why whisky? Why not beer and ale?

I know they didn't have a way to keep beer cold, but isn't cold beer a fairly modern thing anyway? People have drunk beer and ale for centuries.

So why whisky?
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  #9  
Old 12-19-2009, 02:38 PM
running coach running coach is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AuntiePam View Post
Something I've wondered about but haven't bothered to research is why whisky? Why not beer and ale?

I know they didn't have a way to keep beer cold, but isn't cold beer a fairly modern thing anyway? People have drunk beer and ale for centuries.

So why whisky?
Beer will go bad if not handled properly in transit and has a poor shelf life if not kept cool. Whiskey is stable once bottled.
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Old 12-19-2009, 02:44 PM
appleciders appleciders is online now
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Originally Posted by AuntiePam View Post
Something I've wondered about but haven't bothered to research is why whisky? Why not beer and ale?

I know they didn't have a way to keep beer cold, but isn't cold beer a fairly modern thing anyway? People have drunk beer and ale for centuries.

So why whisky?
Quote:
Originally Posted by runner pat View Post
Beer will go bad if not handled properly in transit and has a poor shelf life if not kept cool. Whiskey is stable once bottled.
Not to mention that it's a lot easier to ship a bottle of whiskey than it is to ship a barrel of beer. A wagonload of beer won't sell for half as much at its destination as a wagonload of whiskey will.
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  #11  
Old 12-19-2009, 02:47 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is offline
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John Wesley Hardin once shot a man for chuggin' too loud.
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  #12  
Old 12-19-2009, 02:58 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Spending money like a drunken sailor conveys the same meaning. Both groups would get paid weeks or months worth of wages at the end of a trip and were notarious for blowing much or all of it in a giant binge.

Any even halfway sizable western town had pretensions to culture, though. As soon as families settled there would be a variety of plays, lectures, presentations, entertainers, circuses, ball teams, rodeos, and any and every device known to pass time in those days. An astonishing number of small western towns built opera houses.

That doesn't mean that saloons weren't well represented. They get a good attendance today with far more ways of killing time. But most of the time they were off limits to women and children so they insisted that other forms of entertainment be available. And the temperance movement was a major factor in 19th century America. The state of Kansas put a ban on alcohol sales in its Constitution as early as 1881.

It's basically an "all of the above" type of answer. If a town was so small that it housed nothing but a saloon, a blacksmith, a feed lot, and a few houses, of course the saloon would be the town center. It's like a modern day tourist trap, feeding off the money of outsiders.

Larger towns tried to emulate eastern culture in every way. Every neighborhood in a large eastern city would have a number of local bars. So would western towns. They might be the center for a segment of the population, but not for everyone.

The religious makeup of the area would play a large part. The temperance movement, because of its heavily Protestant component, was a midwestern and western one, weaker in the cities of the northeast where Catholics were in the majority.

And cowboys were a large and varied group, with lots of young men doing the job for a few years before getting out. Most groups of young men in most cultures tend to drink more heavily so that's a huge bias in the equation.
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  #13  
Old 12-19-2009, 03:53 PM
AuntiePam AuntiePam is online now
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Originally Posted by runner pat View Post
Beer will go bad if not handled properly in transit and has a poor shelf life if not kept cool. Whiskey is stable once bottled.
Makes sense. So all those people who drank beer in medieval times must have brewed their own, or lived close to a brewer.

appleciders, the economics makes sense too. Thanks.
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  #14  
Old 12-19-2009, 05:13 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
Spending money like a drunken sailor conveys the same meaning. Both groups would get paid weeks or months worth of wages at the end of a trip and were notarious for blowing much or all of it in a giant binge....
What did cowpokes or sailors need with sworn documents?
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  #15  
Old 12-19-2009, 05:18 PM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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This might have a factual answer (at least in general terms based on history), so I'm moving it to GQ.
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  #16  
Old 12-19-2009, 05:39 PM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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In real life cowboys got off trains or their horses and immediately head over to the nearest church, synagogue or mosque.

The only used those bottles of alochol, to smash each other over the head with. This happened when they got into fights over which God was better.


Last edited by Markxxx; 12-19-2009 at 05:40 PM..
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  #17  
Old 12-19-2009, 06:01 PM
Jim's Son Jim's Son is offline
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I came across some statistics suggesting that per capita alcohol consumption in the United States peaked around 4 gallons in the 1830s and was about 2.18 gallons in 2000. I would guess in the old West it was closer to the 1830s mark. Remember before pasteurization and other methods, many liquids will go bad quickly. Not whiskey.
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  #18  
Old 12-19-2009, 06:22 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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Originally Posted by AuntiePam View Post
Makes sense. So all those people who drank beer in medieval times must have brewed their own, or lived close to a brewer.

appleciders, the economics makes sense too. Thanks.
Brewing was a woman's job. Liquid bread it was. Brewsters made batches for the family, and anything left over could be sold for some spending money.
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  #19  
Old 12-19-2009, 06:41 PM
kopek kopek is offline
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Originally Posted by wedgehed View Post
Folks like Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, & Wild Bill Hickcock made their reputations by taming cowtowns. Liquored up cowboys carrying firearms isn't a movie invention.
But it wasn't as wild as you would think, either - read through some old collections of the newspapers from Tombstone and the like. Falling off horses was a leading cause of death, knives the preferred method of murder, and the cowboys basically got drunk up about the same as a ship full of sailors hitting San Diego. Let's call it more a movie exaggeration than invention.

(PS - IMHO the people you name made their reputations more by the Penny Dreadfulls than actual deads. Although I will admit that its hard sometimes to separate the two.)
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Old 12-19-2009, 07:10 PM
WhyWhyWhy WhyWhyWhy is offline
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An astonishing number of small western towns built opera houses.

That...just...ain't...right.

One would need some saloons to just cancel out the opera houses.

Opera!?!
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Old 12-19-2009, 07:43 PM
wedgehed wedgehed is offline
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But it wasn't as wild as you would think, either - read through some old collections of the newspapers from Tombstone and the like. Falling off horses was a leading cause of death, knives the preferred method of murder, and the cowboys basically got drunk up about the same as a ship full of sailors hitting San Diego. Let's call it more a movie exaggeration than invention.

(PS - IMHO the people you name made their reputations more by the Penny Dreadfulls than actual deads. Although I will admit that its hard sometimes to separate the two.)

Sailors on leave in San Diego don't carry weapons. I doubt if the townfolk gave two shits about what the cowboys did to each other. The lawmen were there to protect the town. Drunks with guns could do a lot of property damage.
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Old 12-19-2009, 08:54 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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When a cow town of 3,000 like like Livingston, Montana boasts 33 saloons in 1883, you gotta know they held drinking in high regard.
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Old 12-19-2009, 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyWhyWhy View Post
That...just...ain't...right.

One would need some saloons to just cancel out the opera houses.

Opera!?!
What? You've never heard of a Horse Opera?
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  #24  
Old 12-19-2009, 10:24 PM
Lumpy Lumpy is offline
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Originally Posted by AuntiePam View Post
Something I've wondered about but haven't bothered to research is why whisky? Why not beer and ale?

I know they didn't have a way to keep beer cold, but isn't cold beer a fairly modern thing anyway? People have drunk beer and ale for centuries.

So why whisky?
In addition to the reasons given, wasn't a lot of whisky corn whisky, a.k.a. rotgut? If you can make a decent non-distilled alcoholic beverage from maize I've yet to hear of it. Ditto re. potatos and vodka
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Old 12-19-2009, 10:27 PM
MPB in Salt Lake MPB in Salt Lake is offline
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In addition to the reasons given, wasn't a lot of whisky corn whisky, a.k.a. rotgut? If you can make a decent non-distilled alcoholic beverage from maize I've yet to hear of it. Ditto re. potatos and vodka
I thought that potato vodka was all the current rage, drawing a premium price compared to many grain vodkas..............
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Old 12-19-2009, 10:31 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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In addition to the reasons given, wasn't a lot of whisky corn whisky, a.k.a. rotgut? If you can make a decent non-distilled alcoholic beverage from maize I've yet to hear of it. Ditto re. potatos and vodka
Excuse me? Bourbon is corn whiskey. Hardly rotgut. Whiskey is by definition distilled.
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  #27  
Old 12-19-2009, 11:58 PM
Lumpy Lumpy is offline
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The original question was why distilled alcohol (whisky) was more common than undistilled fermented beverages like beer. I was opining that I'd never heard of using corn or potatos except for distilled beverages. (Well I vaguely think I've heard the phrase potato beer).
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  #28  
Old 12-20-2009, 02:31 AM
Measure for Measure Measure for Measure is offline
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Here is some data on per capita alcohol consumption, in gallons of pure alcohol.
Code:
Absolute Alcohol:
Year	Spirits	Wine	Beer	Total
1790	2.30	0.10	3.40	5.80
1800	3.30	0.10	3.20	6.60
1810	3.90	0.10	3.10	7.10
1820	3.90	0.10	2.80	6.80
1830	4.30	0.10	2.70	7.10
1840	2.50	0.10	0.50	3.10
1850	1.88	0.08	0.14	2.10
1860	2.16	0.10	0.27	2.53
1870	1.53	0.10	0.44	2.07
1871-80	1.02	0.14	0.56	1.72
1881-90	0.95	0.14	0.90	1.99
1891-95	0.95	0.11	1.17	2.23
1896-00	0.77	0.10	1.19	2.06
1901-05	0.95	0.13	1.31	2.39
1906-10	0.96	0.17	1.47	2.60
1911-15	0.94	0.14	1.48	2.56
1916-19	0.76	0.12	1.08	1.96
1920-30	-	-	-	0.90
1934	0.29	0.07	0.61	0.97
1935	0.43	0.09	0.68	1.20
1936-41	0.63	0.14	0.77	1.54
1942-46	0.83	0.18	1.05	2.06
1947-50	0.73	0.20	1.07	2.00
1951-55	0.76	0.21	1.03	2.00
1956-60	0.82	0.22	0.98	2.02
1961-65	0.92	0.23	1.01	2.16
1966-70	1.09	0.26	1.10	2.45
1971	1.18	0.33	1.17	2.68
1972	1.12	0.31	1.20	2.63
1973	1.12	0.33	1.24	2.69
1974	1.10	0.31	1.25	2.66
1975	1.11	0.32	1.26	2.69
1976	1.09	0.33	1.26	2.68
1977	1.10	0.34	1.31	2.75
1978	1.12	0.36	1.34	2.82
You can see the rise of the temperance movement after 1830. Postbellum alcohol consumption doesn't appear particularly high to me. I wonder whether part of the decline in drinking was due to the expansion of potable water in the cities during the middle of the century.

Last edited by Measure for Measure; 12-20-2009 at 02:32 AM..
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  #29  
Old 12-20-2009, 02:41 AM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Originally Posted by WhyWhyWhy View Post
That...just...ain't...right.

One would need some saloons to just cancel out the opera houses.

Opera!?!
They didn't really feature opera, usually, but were just auditoriums that usually showed burlesque, vaudeville, and the like, sometimes augmented by legitimate theater. Often they would have the name of their proprietor in their name; like L.A.'s Wood's Opera House in the 1880s. I don't think L.A. had a real opera performance until the American premier of La Boheme in 1895. You wouldn't see that today; after all it's the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, not Chandler's Opera House.
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Old 12-20-2009, 02:45 AM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Was the saloon the center of life in these western cow towns?
For the young cowboys, I believe it was, even in places like Dodge City, KS, where there was already statewide Prohibition in 1881.
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  #31  
Old 12-20-2009, 03:23 AM
kopek kopek is offline
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Originally Posted by wedgehed View Post
Sailors on leave in San Diego don't carry weapons. I doubt if the townfolk gave two shits about what the cowboys did to each other. The lawmen were there to protect the town. Drunks with guns could do a lot of property damage.


Drunks with or without guns can do a lot of property damage but nowhere is it written that they MUST. That is where the saloon-keepers and ladies came into play. Lawmen did their thing but it wasn't like the movies. And I've seen guns that were carried by the cowboys, basically in the same condition as they were then; after being used as hammers and Lord only knows what. I wasn't real impressed.
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Old 12-20-2009, 05:11 AM
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I think many saloons in the cow towns also featured prostitutes who hustled drinks as well as cowboys.
After several months in the saddle, cowboys were more than ready to ride a different kind of saddle; I wonder if women or whiskey was the main attraction.
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  #33  
Old 12-20-2009, 07:15 AM
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There was a TV show on the Discovery Channel called Wild West Tech, that gave a bit of anecdotal history with snappy animations, you may find some episodes online.

Basically, according to the experts hired for the show (who are historians, presumably with books they've authored, with references), you have Victorian morality, pre-Industrial infrastructure, and limitations on what can be transported, across the country or around the landmass by ship. Some places had very advanced goods and services, like oysters shipped from New Orleans packed in ice harvested in Chicago. And cold beer might have been available, if you chose to build your saloon over a creek, had an ice house or could order and store ice.

The show often mentions alcohol, other vices, and how they were provided, procured, and what it meant given the sensibility of the time. And if you really care, you could always read what these historians wrote, and check how good their references are. Personally, I just watched the show, and went, "Hum. Makes sense. I'll buy that." But these historians sometimes seemed a little prone to embellishment for the sake of the show.
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Old 12-20-2009, 09:09 AM
silenus silenus is offline
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The original question was why distilled alcohol (whisky) was more common than undistilled fermented beverages like beer. I was opining that I'd never heard of using corn or potatos except for distilled beverages. (Well I vaguely think I've heard the phrase potato beer).
There's your answer. Corn beer tastes like crap.

LouisB, it really wasn't "riding" the cowboys had in mind. I've read where the most asked-for service from one of the soiled doves was satisfaction of the oral variety.
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Old 12-20-2009, 09:36 AM
LVBoPeep LVBoPeep is offline
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I have been doing some research on military fort medicine of the Great Basin for my novel and have a couple of quotes from military physicians.

These quotes come from this book A Saw, Pocket Instruments, and Two Ounces of Whiskey

On shootings:

"The Yankees especially have the deplorable habit of playing with their revolvers, five or six shot repeaters, the way South Americans play with their Daggers" Dr. Piere Garnier, pg 128

"While I saw the revolver prettly[sic]frequently worn for ornamental purposes, I never knew it to be used otherwise, and my only experience of bloodshed from one was when called professionally to see a cowboy, who had accidentally shot himself in the leg with his own ornament" Surgeon William Cline Borden, pg 129

On alcoholics:

"the lustiest consumers of alcohol....shared one common trait: they wre members of a new, mobile class without customs,roots,or social ties." Rorabaugh, pg. 134
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  #36  
Old 12-20-2009, 10:07 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Some people have mentioned drunken sailors and that stereotype had a lot of truth to it. Unlike cowboys who stayed mostly sober on the trail and then had a blow-out when they hit town, sailors got regular rations of alcohol while they were at sea and working. I've read histories of life back in the sailing era and most sailors were getting enough alcohol to be in a perpetual half-buzz.
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  #37  
Old 12-20-2009, 10:36 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Originally Posted by Spectre of Pithecanthropus View Post
They didn't really feature opera, usually, but were just auditoriums that usually showed burlesque, vaudeville, and the like, sometimes augmented by legitimate theater. Often they would have the name of their proprietor in their name; like L.A.'s Wood's Opera House in the 1880s. I don't think L.A. had a real opera performance until the American premier of La Boheme in 1895. You wouldn't see that today; after all it's the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, not Chandler's Opera House.
I agree that the name opera house was given to the place we might call the theater, a common auditorium that housed all types of entertainment. But not burlesque or vaudeville, which had separate accommodations. Opera was never the sole inhabitant for economic reasons. Even today few sites could survive on a diet of all opera.

But that's not to say that they didn't feature true opera. Here's a fascinating article on Opera in Old Colorado.
Quote:
From about 1870 until 1920, entertainment and civic events in most of the cities and towns of Colorado were centered in opera houses. To distinguish between the baudy, low-class places of entertainment that many theatres were at the time, it became common practice to call a town's formost playhouse an "opera house" and thus make it known that only socially-acceptable, legitimate theatre would be tolerated there. Almost all of the towns in Colorado in the late 1800s had one or more opera houses, many of which never hosted opera performances. A mix of local talent and touring groups occupied their stages in the heyday of live entertainment. Among the variety of events taking place in the opera houses were dances, community meetings, political gatherings, performances by local actors or musicians, vaudeville acts, minstrels, lectures, roller skating, wrestling and boxing. However, in a substantial number of Colorado's opera houses, the denizens experienced real opera, either by local groups or by traveling companies, often of considerable repute. Denverites enjoyed a fairly continual procession of opera troupes from 1881 onward. In 1870, when a railroad was extended to it, Denver became a convenient and usually profitable stop-over between Chicago or St. Louis and San Francisco for the best touring artists and companies. As railroads progressively linked other Colorado cities, entertainers could travel in circuits within the state and, eventually, make traverses across the state between Denver and Salt Lake City. ...

For the next 30 years opera houses sprang up in almost every town and city in Colorado. Several of the larger municipalities had two or more opera houses existing simultaneously and often a series of opera houses were built in cities where one burned or became obsolete and then was replaced by another.

This website provides an account of several of the opera companies that performed in Colorado, a listings of opera performance in early Colorado and a catalog of the 145 opera houses for which we have substantial information.
Never mind opera. Roller skating!

Last edited by Exapno Mapcase; 12-20-2009 at 10:38 AM..
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  #38  
Old 12-20-2009, 11:38 AM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is offline
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Code:
1920-30	-	-	-	0.90

Oh, that's charmingly naive.....
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Old 12-20-2009, 11:54 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Oh, that's charmingly naive.....
Why? Every study I've seen has said that overall societal drinking in the U.S. did go down during Prohibition. Of course speakeasies existed. That's why consumption went down only by 50% rather than to zero. But illegal alcohol was harder to obtain, more expensive, of poorer quality, and less approved of than legal alcohol. It would be extremely surprising if that didn't cut consumption severely.

The interesting figures on that list are those from after repeal. Note that it took four decades for consumption to return to 1911-1915 levels. (World War I levels were artificially low because of heavy state prohibition and the divergence of alcohol or the crops that went into it to serve the war effort.) In 1934, the first full year of legal drinking, consumption barely went up.

The U.S. is a big country. At the time, temperance was taken very seriously and drinking really did go down. New York and Hollywood were not representative of the country then or now. What happened in the middle was a true change, even though it did not last forever.
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Old 12-20-2009, 02:05 PM
St. Anger St. Anger is offline
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Originally Posted by Measure for Measure View Post
Here is some data on per capita alcohol consumption, in gallons of pure alcohol.
Code:
Absolute Alcohol:
Year	Spirits	Wine	Beer	Total
1790	2.30	0.10	3.40	5.80
1800	3.30	0.10	3.20	6.60
1810	3.90	0.10	3.10	7.10
1820	3.90	0.10	2.80	6.80
1830	4.30	0.10	2.70	7.10

With that amount of boozing, it's a miracle our nation even got off the ground!
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  #41  
Old 12-20-2009, 02:42 PM
Spoke Spoke is offline
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Originally Posted by AuntiePam View Post
Something I've wondered about but haven't bothered to research is why whisky? Why not beer and ale?
I was watching a show the other day (History Channel, maybe), on which it was said that, surprisingly, cowboys weren't drinking straight whiskey as shown in the movies. Instead, they were drinking all sorts of sweet, fruity, girly cocktails.
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  #42  
Old 12-20-2009, 04:09 PM
Lumpy Lumpy is offline
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Originally Posted by spoke- View Post
I was watching a show the other day (History Channel, maybe), on which it was said that, surprisingly, cowboys weren't drinking straight whiskey as shown in the movies. Instead, they were drinking all sorts of sweet, fruity, girly cocktails.
In many cases, to disguise just how terrible the still liquor they were drinking was. A similar fashion happened during Prohibition.
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  #43  
Old 12-20-2009, 05:58 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
Why? Every study I've seen has said that overall societal drinking in the U.S. did go down during Prohibition. Of course speakeasies existed. That's why consumption went down only by 50% rather than to zero. But illegal alcohol was harder to obtain, more expensive, of poorer quality, and less approved of than legal alcohol. It would be extremely surprising if that didn't cut consumption severely.
It did go down in the beginning, but soon went up again. An unintended consequence was an increase in consumption by people who, prior to the Volstead Act, had never drunk much in public before. Women had stayed away from legal saloons but now often drank at speakeasies just like the men. Minors had not been allowed to drink legally, but when drinking became illegal for everyone, yet continued to happen, it didn't matter if someone was a minor or not.

Link. This is a pro-legalization site that objects to all drug prohibitions, and is possibly biased, but I think the assertions about alcohol consumption or valid.
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  #44  
Old 12-20-2009, 07:35 PM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is offline
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Originally Posted by Bryan Ekers View Post
John Wesley Hardin once shot a man for chuggin' too loud.
Chivalry was not dead.
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  #45  
Old 12-20-2009, 08:56 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Originally Posted by Spectre of Pithecanthropus View Post
It did go down in the beginning, but soon went up again. An unintended consequence was an increase in consumption by people who, prior to the Volstead Act, had never drunk much in public before. Women had stayed away from legal saloons but now often drank at speakeasies just like the men. Minors had not been allowed to drink legally, but when drinking became illegal for everyone, yet continued to happen, it didn't matter if someone was a minor or not.

Link. This is a pro-legalization site that objects to all drug prohibitions, and is possibly biased, but I think the assertions about alcohol consumption or valid.
I don't want to hijack this thread for a discussion that requires a book to itself. I'll just say that alcohol was obviously a problem to some proportion during Prohibition. Therefore you can certainly come up with any number of statements to that effect. Even so, quoting one side of the debate gets you no farther than quoting one side of any national debate.
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  #46  
Old 12-20-2009, 09:24 PM
foolscap foolscap is offline
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If you have ever gone to a real "Ghost Town" you will note that they all had a saloon.
If you go to almost any small town in Nebraska or Kansas nowdays , you will find at least one bank,
one feed store and a bar and grill.
I am sure this is true anywhere you might go, I am generalizing from my local area.
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  #47  
Old 12-21-2009, 04:27 PM
BlinkingDuck BlinkingDuck is offline
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Originally Posted by foolscap View Post
If you go to almost any small town in Nebraska or Kansas nowdays , you will find at least one bank,
one feed store and a bar and grill.
I am sure this is true anywhere you might go, I am generalizing from my local area.
Rural North Dakota...

Typical small town (15-300 people) is a small grocery, gas station, post office, cafe

and 4 bars.

I know...because, during college, I delivered soda to many of em.

Last edited by BlinkingDuck; 12-21-2009 at 04:27 PM..
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  #48  
Old 12-21-2009, 05:55 PM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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Originally Posted by Arkcon View Post
There was a TV show on the Discovery Channel called Wild West Tech, that gave a bit of anecdotal history with snappy animations, you may find some episodes online.

Basically, according to the experts hired for the show (who are historians, presumably with books they've authored, with references), you have Victorian morality, pre-Industrial infrastructure, and limitations on what can be transported, across the country or around the landmass by ship. Some places had very advanced goods and services, like oysters shipped from New Orleans packed in ice harvested in Chicago. And cold beer might have been available, if you chose to build your saloon over a creek, had an ice house or could order and store ice.

The show often mentions alcohol, other vices, and how they were provided, procured, and what it meant given the sensibility of the time. And if you really care, you could always read what these historians wrote, and check how good their references are. Personally, I just watched the show, and went, "Hum. Makes sense. I'll buy that." But these historians sometimes seemed a little prone to embellishment for the sake of the show.
Interesting-some of those western towns had people with elevated tastes. I recall visiting Central City (Colorado-a mining town, not a cow town)-but some bars carried French champaign, NYC oysters, and fruit preserves from Boston. As long as the miners had money, there were people willing to supply whatever was wanted.
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