From Seattle to Canada, A 1929 Prohibition Jaunt



Courtesy Wikimedia Commoons

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons


“A picture of life in the Pacific and near the border of Canada would be incomplete without mentioning  Prohibition.,” wrote Olaf Linck, Hans Pederson’s biographer, when he visited my Danish immigrant father in Seattle in 1929.


“Prohibition, in force from 1920-1933,  has been discussed humorously,” Linck continued. “I prefer to count the facts.”

After a lunch at Seattle’s downtown Arctic Club,  Hunter, one of Pederson’s colleagues, invited Linck to join him on a trip to Vancouver “for a glass of beer.” The border crossing was no problem. At the restaurant their sandwich order entitled them to drink whatever they wanted.

U.S. Customs examined them closely on their return trip, even patting them down to feel for bottles. Customs seemed disappointed that they didn’t find any, and gave them a crossing permit. Hunter speeded up, but 100 yards from the border a uniformed guard stepped into the road with a raised gun. Hunter, annoyed said, “One of these sniffers,” and swung around the guard. More armed guards appeared and fired at the car.

“What’s wrong?” Hunter protested, slowing to a stop. “We’ve been searched.’ He showed them his stamped papers.

“This will show you to stay within the speed limit and stop when ordered,” the guard said pompously. He waved them over to a repair shop where they could repair the tire.

“Smuggler hunters aim for the rings,” Hunter said. “They’ve killed several innocent people here. But I’m sorry these sniffers had to operate today when you are my guest.”

“Don’t worry, it was exciting,” Linck said. “But do they get any smugglers?”

“Not in relation to the aircraft drops.” Hunter told him about the planes that landed in the dark in remote areas. Airplane whiskey often caused blindness.

The Seattle Times had reported fourteen deaths the previous month in Seattle hospitals from airplane whiskey.








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