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Liquor & Lust


The community I call home straddles a state line, two legal jurisdictions with decidedly different views on most topics. Like Minneapolis and Saint Paul, they’ve. existed back-to-back rather than side-by-side. Those differences were especially so while one had achieved statehood and the other was yet a territory. The semantic differences between a state and the frontier, between civilization and savagery were only more exaggerated at the border. At the time of statehood, the younger region was admitted as dry and the two breweries it had enjoyed were forced across the river to the older community. Meanwhile the recently dry area developed a tolerance for another sort of indulgence: prostitution.

This new symbiosis was fruitful for both sides. On my side of the river, the city ignored the several houses of ill repute operating on lowland beside the river [while as many as fifty saloons occupied a slight ridge opposite; they got the better part of the trade]. Once monthly the constabulary “raided” these establishments, took someone into custody, assessed a healthy fine, and used that money for the benefit of the local schools — a sin tax.

Agincourt isn’t so nicely separated but there is some distinction between neighborhoods which might have worked in a similar way. There was, of course “Mrs. Miller’s Enterprise” opposite the new Auditorium, which gave its name to the service lane beside it: Easy Alley. One of its consequences, logically, would have been unplanned pregnancies. And that, in its turn, led to a conspiracy of some interest.

Then, during prohibition, Chicago liquor operations had extended far beyond that metropolis and even beyond Illinois into adjacent states. It’s just as likely that booze must have had its own distribution system in place for the duration. So, while these two illicit activities may not have been contemporary, they add a layer of counterculture to the Agincourt Story.

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