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Old 05-30-2014, 09:41 PM
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RickI RickI is offline
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Default 2015 - The Original Bahamian Bootleggers




The Pryde Group is having a Dealers Meeting at Old Bahama Bay aka "West End, Grand Bahamas Bootlegger Bash." So, what better tribute than to offer some insights into the original bootleggers in these islands smuggling hooch into the USA by whatever means during Prohibition (1920 to 1933).


"Bootlegging - rum-running, or bootlegging, is the illegal business of transporting (smuggling) alcoholic beverages where such transportation is forbidden by law. Smuggling is usually done to circumvent taxation or prohibition laws within a particular jurisdiction." The term was originated in Omaha, Nebraska of all places in 1898 by the practice of bootleggers concealing bottles (boots) in their high boots.



Huge stockpiles of booze were assembled throughout the Bahamas. Some estimated at that time that as much as 10 Million dollars in contraband was stockpiled there. This figure equates to over 120 BILLION Dollars in 2014 currency. Rum (booze) was king and then some in the Prohibition years. It is no wonder vast fortunes were made and lives tossed away in the pursuit of smuggling profits.



Satire from the day. Given the crass outlook of the present day, one wonders if organized crime, rum running interests promoted the creation the Volstead Act and Prohibition. Who stood to gain the most on net? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volstead_Act





I found an article on Bahamian booze smuggling from 1921, CLICK the above photo to be taken to the article. Checkout the two bad dudes in the shades, angling for Miami Vice walk-ons, sixty-five years too soon? As with more recent drug smuggling folks would get hurt and killed as an outgrowth of the trade. The article even says have the loss of the odd "dry spy" wasn't to be regretted? I am impressed with the quality of writing from almost 95 years ago, which leaves me to wonder what comes next in the literary aptitude (or lack thereof) in contemporary society?




You can learn more about this era at the Bimini Museum and in the excellent publications of Ashley B. Saunders including the following:




These books are available at the Dolphin House on Bimini, https://www.facebook.com/dolphinhouse242/ and at amazon.com




You read an article from a USCG perspective in "Rum War." CLICK the photo to link to the article. In the early years of Prohibition the USCG was understaffed and equipped to deal with the better financed and perhaps motivated smuggling trade. The USCG craft might top 12 knots while the speed boats ferrying hams of booze in from motherships could go a good deal faster. It is ironic during the early 1970's when I would walk the beach to tag turtles and dig up endangered nests, I could see law enforcement chasing lights out speed boats. The law in those early days would usually lag far behind lacking the speed to keep up. History repeats itself.





As with more recent drug smuggling hijacking, double crosses and interdiction were regular events. Bootleggers geared up with guns and used them at times. Prohibition minted a LOT of criminals, a list of some of them appears at: http://www.legendsofamerica.com/20th-gangsters4.html




Ok, now if this isn't familiar, I don't know what is. I have to think these were the original "square groupers." It is hard to get much more square than this? "Uh doc, the stuff ain't sinking, now what?" Today, they have all sorts of ideas to deal with that problem. Although, I understand that even in the old Prohibition days, they had subsurface buoys with time-delayed frangible links to allow the marker to surface when needed to try to avoid detection.




I almost had a sweet gig around 1979 training Sheriff's deputies on the operation of this wet sub/DPV at night along the Third Reef off Ft. Lauderdale to interdict drug stashes in the late 1970's. Then Sheriff Butterworth nixed the idea unfortunately, it would have been a blast to teach.



It really was a war even with executions. A friend from the 1970's in Ft. Lauderdale, Hal M. Caudle wrote a book, "The Last Hanging At Bahia Mar." Hal Caudle as a 17 year old coastguardsman shipped out on patrol into the Straits of Florida during Prohibition. They intercepted a known rum runner, James Horace Alderman by strafing across the bow of his vessel. He had just left Alice Town over in Bimini to run some hooch into the States. Alderman managed to grab the gun of one of the men and shot three of them. Two didn't make it. Alderman was threatening to kill the remaining crew. Hal managed to get possession of the gun and nailed Alderman in the chops with it. Alderman was later executed. I think he was hung in that seaplane hanger that shows up above in the area of present day Bahia Mar.
Photo from: http://www.uscg.mil/history/uscghist...hoto_Index.asp



As much crime and illegality surrounds rum in this history of Florida, today there is an exception. The first distillery of "Legal Rum" in Key West, Paul Menta's Chef Distilled located in an old Coco-cola bottling plant near the west end of old town. More at https://www.facebook.com/ChefDistilled



A shot of Lake Mabel (present day Port Everglades) with the connecting Whisky Creek used to bring hooch ashore to a rail distribution point inland. There were a number of tributaries called "Whiskey Creek" around the country in those days.



Prior to drug smuggling a lot of Bahamian commerce dealt with sponges, sisal, sea food, etc.. With the dollars involved in running booze, a new industry came into being in short order.



A look at rum running in the Western Bahamas wouldn't be complete without considering the ferrocement vessel, the "Sapona." Towed across the Straits intended as a stationary storehouse, casino, brothel from Miami, instead the vessel was ripped from her moorings, dragged across the flats to stay for almost a hundred years to the present day. More at: http://www.fksa.org/showthread.php?t=10356



There were various spin offs such as Pappy Chalks Airlines. Chalks came into being to ferry the rum runners across the Straits. It lasted for over 90 years before tragically fading in recent times. More at http://fly.historicwings.com/2012/12...ars-of-chalks/



Captains would sometimes try to scuttle their vessels and illegal cargo to avoid arrest. I once spent several days in 1980 looking for a 37 ft. Hatteras sports fisherman that was scuttle off Port Everglades with a cargo of pot. I was thinking of setting the pot lose underwater and salvaging the quite valuable vessel. I never did find it despite running a metric search pattern. It could have been there was enough air forward to have allowed the hull to bounce along the bottom in the Florida Current. I did find a bunch of dead hammerhead sharks but that is another story.



Stowed Hams of Six awaiting the trip across the Straits of Florida to the promised dry land.
The Arethusa was a smuggling boat operated by Bill" McCoy, the Real McCoy (or line of pottery depending if you favor rum or antique pots?). More about the life and times of Bill at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_McCoy_(bootlegger)






An excellent hand colored depiction of Grand Bahama Island by Wm. Johnson, Jr..


There is lots in these islands to capture your interest, even fascination. There should be a lot of that in West End this week. It really is "better in the Bahamas."


An excellent Pryde Group dealer meeting in Islamorada, FL in 2011

http://www.pryde-group.com is comprised of all these great global brands:

http://www.cabrinhakites.com/ * http://www.neilpryde.com/ * http://www.npsurf.com/

http://www.jp-australia.com/ * http://www.neilprydebikes.com/ * http://www.imaginesurf.com/






More great things to come from this dealer meeting in the islands, count on it!





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Last edited by RickI; 05-14-2019 at 09:35 PM.
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