100 Years Ago: Bootleggers v. Crooked Cops

In 1923, an anonymous bootlegger wrote that delivering illegal liquor was a safe but boring job — but it could be expensive if he was stopped by a policeman expecting a bribe.

Prohibition officers raiding a lunch room, 1923 (Library of Congress

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—From “Stabilized Bootlegging” by Anonymous, from the November 10, 1923 issue of The Saturday Evening Post

I still remember one trip in which I was shaken down three times before I ever picked up the skyline of lower Manhattan, and then fell into the arms of a bull who took my car, cargo and all.

It isn’t necessary to take this bleeding lying down. Before any money changes hands, a badge has to be shown. Every badge carries a number. We look up at headquarters the names the numbers belong to and jot them down with the time, place, and amount. Reference to these data has been known to have a soothing effect on feverish fingers.

There is one big operator who boasts that he never has put out a dime other than by check. The checks are made out to “Cash,” but they carry an endorsement when they come back from the bank. An interesting and valuable collection of signatures, those!


Read the entire article “Stabilized Bootlegging” from the November 10, 1923 issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

This article is featured in the November/December 2023 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

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