The Day You Couldn’t Spell Booze Without Boo

Let’s go back a hundred and one years to November 7, 1916. Michigan went to the polls to decide on statewide prohibition. The two sides had made their arguments and soon they would know if the “wets” could hold back the tide that was taking over the nation. It was soon evident that it was a lost cause.

There were some interesting articles/ads leading up to the election of 1916. A few were from two names we know to this day. Strohs’s was trying to protect it’s business while Henry Ford wanted to insure a sober workforce.

I have attached two ads from Stroh’s. One is your typical fire brewed ad that we may have seen in the 80s. The second is about how hard it is to brew a high quality beer. I didn’t know you could broil a steak on a radiator. On the “dry” side Henry Ford wrote about his plan to use closed breweries to make denatatured alcohol to fuel automobiles. I have also attached that article.

The “drys” won. Yet, it would be a whole year in half before prohibition would begin. I plan on sharing some interesting articles over the next few months leading up to the 100th anniversary of the day Michigan went dry.

Monroe in the Time of Typhoid

This post is not about beer, it’s about water. So why is a beer blog doing a post about water? One; beer imageis mostly water. Two; beer was often drunk as an alternative to polluted water. St. Arnold of Soisson’s miracle was to get local peasants to drink beer, “gift of life”, instead of water. His parishioners survived the plague. Okay, stories similar to the last one were possibly myth. But in the book “Last Call“, Daniel Okrent does mention that one of the many factors in passing the 18th amendment was better sanitation leading to clean reliable drinking water.

The summer of 1915 was still young when local physician and Monroe Health Officer Dr. J.J. Siffer noted that between June 25 and July 12 seven patients came to him showing the symptoms of typhoid: high fever, diarrhea and a red rash. It became clear thatimage the 7 thousand citizens of Monroe were in the midst of a typhoid outbreak. Initially the reason for this outbreak was unclear but by the time he tended to his seventh patient he felt that the water supply was to blame. At this point Dr. Siffer imagecontacted the State Board of Health and requested a sanitary engineer be sent to Monroe. And so James W. Follin was dispatched to find the cause of the outbreak. One that would grow to 44 cases by the end of the summer.

Typhoid is caused by the bacteria Salmonella Typhi which is transmitted by ingesting the feces of an infected person. The fight against disease causing pathogens was just getting started. Water treatment processes such a filtration and chlorination were becoming more widespread. State and local health departments were opening up. The famous case of Typhoid Mary was eight years previous and Wilbur Wright died of typhoid just 2 years earlier to Monroe’s outbreak.

In 1915, the water was supplied by Monroe Water Company which had been granted a 30 year franchise in 1889. This was not the first time water quality had been an issueimage for them. A large majority of the water tested since 1908 was deemed unsafe for domestic purposes. Water pumped in from the lake was not treated in any manner. Fish would come out of hydrants and block service lines diminishing water pressure. Untreated Lake Erie water is very inconsistent and was considered undrinkable by customers during certain times of the year which drove the citizens to the 5 public wells located throughout the city. But people were mistaking clear water for clean water and the water from the well was no safer to drink.

The well at Wadsworth and Second that some called “the old sulphur well” was the oldest well in Monroe. The well had a few cases of typhoid tied to it dating back to 1914. By June 26 the well had six cases directly attributed to it. When the test came back from Lansing the Wadsworth well plus the one at Noble and Tremont were badly contaminated. Byimage July 19, three public wells in total were closed never to open again leaving only the public wells at Harrison and 6th plus the Rapp Park well open.

This did not end typhoid outbreak. The bacteria was being carried in untreated sewage that was dumped straight into the river. It then flowed out to the lake. And when the wind blew in a certain direction it headed straight for the intake.

The state issued a boil water warning and demanded that emergency treatment of city tap water with hypochlorite of lime on July 21. The Monroe Water Company set up a chemical feed system and maintained a chlorine residual throughout the system. These actions contained the outbreak to 40 people until Monroe Water Company decided to cease feeding chlorine for three days without notifying the public. This caused four more cases. Meanwhile, city officials were talking seriously about improvements they could make and the need for more oversight.

James W. Follin’s thorough investigation led to the conclusion that the city needed toimage build a filtration plant. Chlorine can only purify the water but it can’t clean it. Without the removal of organics, the water would still be unpleasant to drink creating a lack of confidence in Monroe’s water supply. Eight years after the outbreak a new city run Filtration plant was dedicated on March 1, 1924. The plant is still is in use today.

I recommend checking out Follin’s “Report on the investigation of the typhoid fever epidemic at Monroe, MI occurring during the summer of 1915”. Because of the report’s depth and wealth of information, it is impossible to condense it into a blog post. The report includes maps, test results, pictures and a list of every case in Monroe. If you enjoy nerding out on how life used to be please click the link. To me it’s just more proof that the good old days weren’t so good.

 

Mon-Roll: Bicycle to Beer

There is an event in Detroit called Slow Roll. Every Monday night bike riders gather for a pedal through Detroit’s neighborhoods. I got me thinking, why can’t we do this in Monroe? We can! So Mon-Roll was created. We did add a slight twist so we included a stop for Michigan craft beer.

So here’s the plan. Every Monday at 6:30p we will meet at Loranger Square, located in downtown Monroe. Then we will take a moderately paced ride out to a local bar. Drink a beverage of your choice. My choice will be a Michigan craft beer and you will not be shunned if you have a soft drink. You will be if you order a Coors Light. I’m just kidding? We will then ride back to one of the downtown bars for one more beer.

Now for the rules… First rule of Mon-Roll is talk about Mon-Roll. Second rule is about helmets. I wear a helmet but I will not make you wear one. That decision is yours and your alone. We will obey the rules of the road. And no rider will be left behind.

For updates on weekly rides click here.

Local Homebrewer’s Beer on Tap at 129 Lounge

Last December, 129 Lounge and Saugatuck Brewing teamed up to hold a local homebrew competition where the winner would get to have his or her beer on tap for all to sample. This inaugural event had many tasty entries but the winning beer was a coffee stout brewed by the Muskrat Mashers’ own  Dan DeSloover, named Night Grind. Dan won a brew day at Saugatuck Brewing where he brewed his beer, they kegged it and now 129 Lounge is putting it on tap this Saturday, May 9 at 7pm.

I am excited about a local homebrewer’s beer being on tap in Monroe. I seriously can’t remember when a Monroe brewer has had a beer on tap at a local bar. And since there hasn’t been a brewery in town since before Prohibition you may need to go back that far to enjoy a beer by a Monroe brewer.

It will be a good weekend to go to 129. The weather is supposed to be perfect for sitting out on their back deck. What a great way to toast to the fact that this long winter behind us.

129 Lounge is located at 129 E. Front St. in Monroe, MI.

Beer Won’t Make You Bilious

I was doing some research today and found this Green Seal beer ad from 1915. It was brewed by the Buckeye Beer Company out of Toledo, Oh.
I love the health benefits that Green Seal claimed. It’s really hard to read some of the print but I did see that “good beer makes good blood”. It was probably true that beer was healthier than milk and water. I feel they implied that a government official bestowed a green seal of approval to their beer. I picture C. Everett Koop.

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Lake Erie Metropark and Beer History

Take it from someone who has been married for over ten years. Nothing will make your wife happier this Valentine’s Day than to take her to a beer event on love’s biggest day. It sounds like I’m joking but I have taken Sarah to this event before and we loved it.
What is it? Actually, it’s two events presented by Lake Erie Metropark. On Saturday, they are talking history, beer history, from the first fermentation to the craft beer boom. Sunday, the subject is rum-running which we have attending. It was informative and fun. If you love history, beer or beer history I recommend going.
Here are the details…

History of Hooch
Marshlands Museum & Nature Center
Sat 02/14/2015 2pm
Lake Erie Metropark
Description
From its ancient beginnings to the modern craft beer era, people have been brewing beer for thousands of years. Join an interpreter for a historic journey of all things beer, including a brief home-brewing show-and-tell. Sorry folks -no samples will be provided! Please preregister.

Rum-Running Stories
Marshlands Museum & Nature Center
Sun 02/15/2015 2pm
Lake Erie Metropark
Description
The Detroit River was a pretty busy place during Prohibition. With tremendous amounts of illegal liquor entering the United States from Canada during the 1920’s and early 1930’s, stories abound. Join some young “old timers” as you travel back to the era of blind pigs, rum-running, and panther sweat. Participants are urged to tell a few stories of their own! Please preregister.

Here is the event page to per register. http://www.metroparks.com/Lake-Erie-Metropark/Events

The Remains of a Brewery?

Wahl Brewery stood on the banks of the River Raisin in Monroe, MI for about 50 years. Most of the pictures I have found in the public record are drawings. Two of these drawings contradict the location and layout of the brewery.
I’ve walked around the site where the brewery stood and it hit me what a strange piece of property it is. There is a big wall that runs along side the river, steps that walk down to a lower level of the site and an old foundation that separates the lower land from upper. I plan on looking into it more when there isn’t a foot and a half of snow on the ground. But for now I am sharing these pictures with you.

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This is the wall that could be the foundation of the brewery. If this is the case then the first of two brewery pictures must be the more accurate one.

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