Seattle Immigrants and Prohibition



Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Danish author Olaf Linck spent two months in Seattle with my father, Hans Pederson, in 1929. A year later he published a biography of Pederson, one of Seattle’s major early 20th century contractors.

Linck described their lunch at the Arctic Club, a five-story building  my father constructed in 1917 as a venue for local movers and shakers who had gone on the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. The Arctic Club has since been remodeled and reopened as a downtown Double Tree Seattle hotel.

Pederson motioned Linck toward one of the Chesterfield chairs before the fireplace, then left him as he continued his business. Aware that Prohibition had been the law in Washington for some years, Linck observed several patrons ordering drinks at the extended bar across the lobby.

Hunter, a member seated next to Linck, explained the situation. While he formerly drank water before Prohibition, he switched after Prohibition to placing a monthly order with his bootlegger for any type of prohibited spirits.

“The prohibition law is an insult to all freedom-loving and healthy men,” Hunter said.  “Why should the Government tell me what I am allowed to eat and drink in my own home?” Hunter slapped the arm of his chair. “The State has committed an assault against me. My house is my castle—in the United States we are not serfs to the lords.”

Linck concluded that Prohibition offered another risk-taking opportunity to the West’s intrepid pioneers.

Prohibition didn’t work. How is legal marijuana working for you Westerners?

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