Blind Tigers

Another chapter omitted from the published WAR GUILT CLAUSE

Max got caught up in what was happening at home in Brooklyn while Wilson was in Paris thumping for a world peace that would include the nations of the world organized into a League charged with problem solving – economic, religious, political, geographic, extraterrestrial (just kidding {sort of}. In Brooklyn saloons the big worry was  prohibition of the sale of beer, bourbon, gin and all that.

BLIND TIGERS AND ALL THAT

“So it begins,” Otto Frederick, with his friends at the Eagle Saloon, folded the newspaper he had been reading and began the discussion. “Forty plans for the League of Nations to be considered – they are stalled before they can begin.”

Otto did not find it necessary to say he was talking about the Paris Peace Conference. Pat Cady, Bill Hartz, Joseph Koenig, and Debs Green, the other men at the table, put down their papers and began to express their thoughts.

“They will not meddle with the Monroe Doctrine,” said Bill Hartz to laughter from the group. Hartz was echoing an item in the New York Times report on the conference.

“They are charged with adjusting the destinies of the world, perhaps we should join them,” said Joseph Koenig.

“Can we trust our sainted President to do the right thing?” Bill Hartz, no friend of Wilson, had the answer to his own question . . . “why is he obsessed with this idea of a League of Nations? He is more concerned about the world out there than he is about the world here at home.”

Pat Cady had other things on his mind, once again sparked by information gleaned from the morning newspaper. “Only six more states needed to ratify the prohibition amendment,” he said, “drink up gentlemen, it may be our last chance.” He raised his glass for a toast. “To Blind Tigers,” he said.

It was a reference to a practice that had developed in a Dry county somewhere in Indiana – the appearance in a legitimate business store window of a stuffed tiger with glass eyes to alert thirsty customers that an illicit saloon (a speakeasy) was somewhere in the neighborhood.

“But see here, Cady, there may still be hope.” Otto Frederick pointed to an item in the Times. “The distillers convention in Chicago informs us that fifteen states have laws that require a vote of the people to approve what their legislators have mandated when the issue is amending the U.S. constitution. Can we hope that the people are wiser than their elected representatives? The distillers have elected a guy from Peoria to lead their organization and press their case. There are ominous signs that such prohibition will be disastrous for the nation – the criminal elements in our society are licking their chops over the whole idea – ways to profit are blossoming in the greedy minds of crooks from Maine to California.”

“Maybe there is hope for us here in New York,” said Cady, “it appears that our state senate opposes the amendment; this raises the question, if the amendment becomes law, is a state that voted against it required to enforce it?”

While the group pondered that sticky question, Debs Green called attention to another item in the Times that he found troubling: the report of a pogrom in Ukrainia.

“Again, they are killing jews,” he said. “What are we to do?”

Otto Frederick spoke for the group who all looked at Green sharply to see if he was sober. This was a group that discussed issues; no matter how dire a situation, they were never inclined to do anything about it.

“Green, my friend,” Otto said, placing a hand on Green’s arm, “it is not our place to do anything. We are prepared to discuss it, to be sure, but do something? No. So let us discuss: did I not read somewhere that what is being called ‘the Bolshevik Revolution’ is the result of  a Jewish conspiracy?”

Green threw up his hands in dismay. “Churchill has written in the London Herald  that Bolshevism and Zionism are competing for the soul of the Jewish people. This is an educated man, possibly a world leader, how can he write such nonsense?”

Green was referring to Winston Churchill, currently the British Secretary of State for War and Aviation, one of the British plenipotentiaries at the Paris Peace Conference. The Ballboys knew about Winston Churchill.

“What can you tell us about the Jewish soul?” Otto Frederick asked.

Green smiled, “Of one thing I am sure,” he answered, “whatever it is, Winston Churchill may be the last person to know of it.”

 

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