Episode 44

Savannah History: Pirates, Movies, and Mobsters

Savannah, Georgia is full of accessible history that everyone can enjoy. It has inspired the likes of Robert Luis Stevenson when he wrote Treasure Island and events and culture brought forth the popular book and movie, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil". Battlefields, war heroes, prohibition hot spots, and Al Capone all whisper at the 22 various squares you can easily walk to.

Don't forget about the American Prohibition Museum as well!

This podcast gives you a taste of that Savannah history in preparation for your own trip to this amazing city.

Prohibition Museum: https://youtu.be/6ltM_YEs3u4

Savannah History: https://youtu.be/kZFu0II3Qm4


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Transcript
Scott:

And so there was like a legitimate.

Scott:

Side of just, Hey, we've got these Model Ts or whatever was kind of

Scott:

evolving quickly throughout that kind of decade and a half-ish.

Scott:

And they actually said that the, the, the guys who were running moonshine

Scott:

tended to be, have the fastest and the best cars and would win these

Scott:

recreational races on the weekdays.

Scott:

On the weekends they'd go run moonshine.

Jenn:

Exactly.

Jenn:

. Right.

Scott:

now Jen, I have a new thing for us tonight because this episode is sponsored

Jenn:

seriously.

Scott:

sponsored by US So this episode is brought to you by

Scott:

the hashtag Historic newsletter.

Scott:

This is our free newsletter that brings you a monthly roundup of

Scott:

history in the news and bite-sized summaries of interesting historical

Scott:

articles, videos, and yes, even other history podcasts that we find.

Scott:

So you can sign up for the hashtag.

Scott:

newsletter@hashtaghistoric.com.

Scott:

Hashtag historic.com.

Scott:

That's hashtag historic.com to sign up for free today.

Jenn:

Spelled out.

Scott:

Spelled out all the words.

Scott:

H A S H T A G.

Scott:

Historic yes.

Scott:

Did you know that one of the oldest cities in America is in a state that's known for

Scott:

peaches, bulldogs, and Zach Brown band?

Scott:

Yes.

Scott:

Savannah, Georgia was founded in 1733, and if you think about this unsuspecting

Scott:

city not far from the coast, it kind of makes sense that the explorers

Scott:

and the pirates put down roots here.

Scott:

Savannah's

Scott:

host a much more history than you might realize, and we're here to tell you

Scott:

about a taste of that history today.

Scott:

So Jen, let's talk about Savannah, Georgia.

Jenn:

Awesome.

Jenn:

I didn't, I forgot that Zach Brown was from Georgia

Scott:

singing about Sweet Georgia pies all the time.

Scott:

Zach Brown Band.

Jenn:

that was the first concert we took the kids to.

Scott:

right.

Scott:

That was, that was a ton of fun.

Scott:

Very

Jenn:

cool.

Jenn:

And we also took the kids to Savannah, so it was an amazing city in Georgia.

Jenn:

We had never been there before.

Scott:

was, I was incredibly impressed and surprised at how much I enjoyed

Scott:

Savannah cuz we went, you kind of earned like a little work bonus.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

So we got to go down and we just, you know, your boss is

Scott:

saying, Hey, Savannah's amazing.

Scott:

You'd love it.

Scott:

So we went down to Savannah.

Scott:

Now what are some of the first things you know, I think a lot

Scott:

of people might know our first

Jenn:

topic.

Jenn:

Sure.

Jenn:

I think a lot of people will realize, although I didn't realize

Jenn:

until I started to do research that Forrest Gump is sitting on

Jenn:

the bench in Savannah, Georgia in

Scott:

That whole, that whole time.

Scott:

And we actually visited the very location Yes.

Scott:

Where the bench was.

Scott:

It's no longer there.

Scott:

No, but tell us a little bit about

Jenn:

So it's one of, it's, it's a popular square in Savannah.

Jenn:

So Savannah has 22 like public garden squares.

Jenn:

It's laid out like a grid.

Jenn:

Very easy city to walk, very easy city to navigate and.

Jenn:

In Forest Gump, he's sitting in Chippewa Square, which is one of the

Jenn:

more popular of the 22 squares, and that bench was put there for the movie.

Jenn:

And I, I talk about that in the video because it's right along the road and

Jenn:

as if you remember in the movie, the bus keeps stopping kind of in front of

Scott:

them.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

And it's not too far.

Scott:

So Savannah, you know, if, if you haven't really thought about

Scott:

it, and I mentioned in the intro, it's not too far from the coast.

Scott:

I wouldn't call it a beach town, but it's on, it's on like a

Scott:

river inlet, like a major Delta

Jenn:

major.

Jenn:

And that, that's so important to its history.

Scott:

right.

Scott:

And, and Chippewa Square.

Scott:

And the reason I bring that up is Chippewa Square is maybe a

Scott:

quarter mile from kind of the

Jenn:

Yes.

Jenn:

Easy to walk,

Scott:

easy to get there.

Scott:

That's probably why it's one of the more popular ones.

Jenn:

And Chippewa Square, it's named after the war of 1812, the Battle Chippewa

Jenn:

and the Square was dedicated to 1815.

Jenn:

So it makes sense that they would name it off, out of, off of a famous battle

Jenn:

that America, you know, prospered in.

Jenn:

It has a statue in it of j James o Ogel Thorpe, who is the founder of Savannah.

Jenn:

He's the governor, the first governor of Savannah.

Jenn:

That's the statue who's behind Forrest Gum.

Jenn:

So it's kind of a popular square for those reasons.

Jenn:

Plus we talk about some things.

Jenn:

There are some buildings.

Jenn:

Around the square that are pretty important.

Jenn:

One of 'em being the Savannah Theater, which claims to be

Jenn:

the oldest theater in America.

Scott:

The, I think that's like the oldest longest running theater.

Jenn:

In one location.

Jenn:

Right.

Jenn:

So it's from 18.

Jenn:

18.

Jenn:

Now there's two other theaters we've where I talk about this in

Jenn:

the video one is in Philadelphia.

Jenn:

They didn't close their roof and make it like an actual theater until a after

Scott:

And I think the building moved

Jenn:

And the that's in Charleston.

Jenn:

Okay.

Jenn:

The other one is in Charleston, that's older.

Jenn:

But they moved the building cuz it burned down at one point.

Jenn:

And so they moved the location.

Jenn:

Right?

Jenn:

So this is the oldest theater in one location.

Jenn:

18.

Jenn:

18.

Jenn:

And so you've had some very famous actors go through there.

Jenn:

You've had like Oscar Wild has been there, Charles Dickens had been there.

Jenn:

John Wilkes Booth Yeah.

Jenn:

Had performed there.

Jenn:

So it's just cool.

Jenn:

So that's on the corner of Chippewa Square.

Jenn:

And again, this, the statue of Al Thorpe is there as well.

Jenn:

So,

Scott:

and you kind of have to like, to kind of get a visual and a feel

Scott:

for what these squares are like.

Scott:

Like picture that classic tree, Spanish moss hanging from the tree

Scott:

and that's everywhere in Savannah, along the waterfront, walking

Scott:

through the, through the town.

Scott:

Like everywhere we were walking, we were walking through these squares and

Scott:

these tree, these just gorgeous trees.

Scott:

I.

Scott:

When Jen says it's walkable, like there's people out running, it's,

Scott:

it's actually like a pleasant walk.

Scott:

It's nice to go around a walk.

Scott:

It's not walkable.

Scott:

Like you can walk through New York City.

Scott:

Like it's, it's, they actually, I integrated a lot of these squares into

Scott:

kind of the feel, the vibe of the city.

Scott:

I

Jenn:

I think it more or less wants you to walk rather than drive.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

It didn't seem like there was

Scott:

It was, it was very easy to walk.

Scott:

Very easy to walk everywhere

Jenn:

So it has this feel.

Jenn:

It's the oldest city in Georgia since it's the first when, when

Jenn:

there was landed and, and colonized.

Jenn:

It was the first colony, first city of Georgia.

Jenn:

So it's the oldest city of Georgia, but it has this feeling that's not American.

Jenn:

Like you feel like you're in a European country walking around

Scott:

a lot of that kind of Spanish, European vibe to it.

Scott:

Yes.

Jenn:

And so when you look at Oga Thorpe's statue, if you're there,

Jenn:

he has a very colonial look to him.

Jenn:

He doesn't look, you know, more like British kind of look.

Jenn:

So that's how it, it was a very cool atmosphere and feeling.

Jenn:

We felt very safe there.

Jenn:

And it was really neat, but there's a lot of cool history around there.

Jenn:

So from there we actually walked to,

Jenn:

Juliet Gordon Lowe.

Jenn:

She's the founder of the Girl Scouts.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

And she's born in Savannah.

Jenn:

She started the Girl Scouts in Savannah.

Jenn:

The first meeting or troop meeting happened in Savannah, so it's,

Jenn:

even when we went there, there were Girl Scout troops visiting

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

That, that was cool.

Scott:

And that was, that was something I, I didn't expect.

Scott:

Right.

Scott:

But I, I mean, I have an aunt who has been, she was in the Girl

Scott:

Scouts for forever and she's run troops and this, that and the other.

Scott:

And so I've always heard about kind of some girl scout, scout,

Scott:

this and that and the other.

Scott:

But you wouldn't kind of think until you show up and they're like, oh

Scott:

yeah, the, the founder of the Girl Scouts is, is here, and this was her.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

You know, and so that was neat to kind of see the marker and then to see like a Girl

Scott:

Scout troop, just you can tour the house.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

And so we saw 'em kind of walking out and they were on some

Jenn:

Yeah.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

Taking pictures and this, that and the other.

Jenn:

it's kind of like a probably like a rite of passage for a girl scout

Jenn:

to be in the very, in the home where the very first meeting took place in

Jenn:

the very first Girl Scout meeting.

Jenn:

There's a lot of other things that are so, You might know Savannah

Jenn:

for a movie or a book called

Jenn:

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

And we go to that house from that movie.

Jenn:

And that house is pretty famous.

Jenn:

It's been used in other movies.

Jenn:

It's the Mercer House.

Jenn:

So when I say Mercer, some people are like, oh, Mercer,

Jenn:

is that like Johnny Mercer?

Jenn:

Well, it is Johnny Mercer.

Jenn:

And some people might be like, who's Johnny Mercer

Scott:

I don't know who Johnny

Jenn:

So he was a famous songwriter.

Jenn:

He wrote Moon River from Tiff, breakfast of Tiffany's, Oscar Winter.

Jenn:

Mm-hmm.

Jenn:

, his great-grandfather built that house.

Jenn:

Oh my God.

Jenn:

And he's from Savannah, Georgia.

Jenn:

He never lived in that house, but his great-grandfather built the Mercer House.

Jenn:

And the Mercer House is famous because it's where the murder took place.

Jenn:

That's in the book, midnight in The Garden of Good and Evil, which

Scott:

that's what the book was, was based

Jenn:

on.

Jenn:

Yeah, 1994 book.

Jenn:

It's a 1997 movie made by Clint Eastward with Jude Law and

Jenn:

Kevin Spacey and John Cusick.

Jenn:

But the premise is, you know, there's a murder that happens in

Jenn:

this house and there's a lot of colorful southern characters and.

Jenn:

If you spend some time in the South New Orleans, Memphis Savannah, you realize the

Jenn:

influence that African Americans have on the culture and one of them is religion

Jenn:

and then the hudu voodoo that comes over.

Scott:

I, I thought that was a really interesting thing that you

Scott:

brought up and it's, it's in the video and we kind of call it out

Scott:

via text and you talking about it.

Scott:

So, so what was, what, what was like the I think it was the lion,

Scott:

like the, the killing hour or the,

Jenn:

So Min, so what that means, midnight in the garden of Good and Evil is,

Jenn:

The 30

Jenn:

minutes before midnight is the good time, and the 30 minutes after

Jenn:

midnight is the evil time, and that is the hour associated with midnight.

Jenn:

And that's why it's kind of in the garden of good and Evil.

Jenn:

Good.

Scott:

Midnight in the Garden of Good.

Scott:

And, and even so, that movie was popular enough too, that on the

Scott:

cover of the book, there's a statue.

Scott:

Yes.

Scott:

And and it's someone, she's kind of holding two bowls, almost like a

Jenn:

almost like a scale.

Scott:

like a scale type thing.

Scott:

And it was so popular.

Scott:

I actually read this online.

Scott:

I don't think I brought it up in the video, but it used to be in a cemetery

Scott:

and they moved it because the, the, where the cemetery was or, or someone.

Jenn:

Property.

Jenn:

Mm-hmm.

Scott:

people kept visiting it so often.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

That these people complained and they just moved it to a museum.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

So it wa it really was just like a bird feeder.

Jenn:

Right.

Jenn:

Somebody had made it as a, as a bird feeder, that's what it was.

Jenn:

And the person who came out to take cover art for the book, walked around

Jenn:

the city and walked by a cemetery and saw the statue and took the picture and

Jenn:

liked it because of the Spanish moss.

Jenn:

And of the and of the feeling, and because it's good and evil.

Scott:

So it looked like it was weighing, it

Jenn:

like it was weighing, even though it's, it's just the bird feeder, but

Jenn:

like you said, people kept visiting it and like rubbing it and touching it,

Jenn:

that they actually moved it to a museum.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

So, but it's a very iconic photograph and that's an iconic book cover.

Jenn:

And even though it really, that plays really nothing into this.

Jenn:

The story that statue it is a part of that idea of the, in the story there is they

Jenn:

do seek help from a voodoo hudu priestess who kind of takes them to the cemetery.

Jenn:

And so that, that's where that kind of comes

Scott:

And, and it, it's the, the picture, right?

Scott:

Just like anything else in production, it fits right.

Scott:

It looks like it's in a garden.

Scott:

It looks, gives the impression of good and evil and, and all that fun stuff.

Scott:

And I had even kind of recognized the picture, even though

Scott:

I've never read the book.

Scott:

Yeah, I've never seen a movie.

Scott:

But the picture I was like, that looks familiar.

Scott:

It's iconic.

Scott:

So I think most people would, would say that.

Jenn:

And so the Mercer House is where the murder actually takes place,

Jenn:

and it's where the movie is actually filmed, but it's in other movies too.

Jenn:

It's in glory.

Jenn:

So when Matthew Broderick gets his commission, or you know, to run the 54th

Jenn:

Massachusetts, he learns about it in that.

Jenn:

So it, it, and that's supposed to be playing Boston , cuz that's

Jenn:

where he's learning about it.

Jenn:

He's not in Savannah when he learns about it.

Jenn:

So so it, it, it has stood in for other things as well and it's

Jenn:

very cool to see it and be there.

Jenn:

And it's on the corner of a square.

Jenn:

It's not Chippewa Square, but it's another square.

Jenn:

So, like I said, 22 squares in Savannah.

Jenn:

We visit the square where Nathaniel Green is buried as well, so another square.

Jenn:

If you just even wanna walk from square to square in Savannah,

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

I mean, even if you're not a history fan, which if you're listening to

Scott:

this podcast, you probably are.

Scott:

You can.

Scott:

You can walk all day

Jenn:

mm-hmm.

Scott:

and, and just enjoy the sights and enjoy the, the feel of the city.

Scott:

It's great.

Jenn:

One of the last things we did, and we brought the kids, which was

Jenn:

really cool, was the pirate house.

Jenn:

fun.

Jenn:

So it's fun.

Jenn:

So Savannah has like, it's tied to all these cool things in history

Jenn:

that I just never realized.

Jenn:

So treasure Ireland by Robert Lewis and Stevenson opens up in Savannah

Jenn:

and it opens up in the pirate house cuz the captain Flint is in the n.

Jenn:

In Savannah, Georgia, which is the Pirate House.

Scott:

It's, it's the location of, now it's a restaurant slash kind of gift shop

Jenn:

place.

Jenn:

Yes.

Jenn:

But it was like a Sea

Scott:

it used to, it used to be an

Jenn:

inn.

Jenn:

Yes.

Scott:

And that's where he

Jenn:

dies on the second floor and it starts the whole book

Jenn:

because he gives his treasure map.

Jenn:

To Billy Bones and he, he calls to Long John Silver, you know, he's like yelling.

Jenn:

And this starts the whole story.

Jenn:

If you've ever read Treasure Island and Robert Lewis Stevenson visited

Jenn:

that inn in the seven, in like the 18.

Jenn:

He writes the book in 1883, so it's like the early 1870s.

Jenn:

He visits 1850s.

Jenn:

1870s.

Jenn:

He visits

Jenn:

there,

Scott:

inspires him to, he's

Jenn:

it's so inspired by it that he writes it into his

Scott:

That's so cool.

Jenn:

It's so neat.

Jenn:

So, and the Pirate House has so much history because War of 18,

Jenn:

12, we've talked about this before.

Jenn:

It's where I impressment were happening.

Jenn:

So I Impressment are forcing people to join the, the Navy and in this

Jenn:

case it was the world British navy.

Scott:

and we had people, I think, comment on the video or, or email

Scott:

us afterwards, after we, we put this video out saying like they had heard.

Scott:

Or maybe it was something that we missed, that there's actually

Scott:

like a, a secret underground

Jenn:

Oh, it's there.

Scott:

It's there.

Scott:

So there's, there's under own tunnel from the house again, and

Scott:

it's not far from the waterfront.

Jenn:

Oh yeah.

Scott:

And they would, and that's how they would like just take all the

Scott:

drunkards and get 'em on the ships.

Jenn:

one of the easiest way to impress upon sailors is because if you can't get

Jenn:

a crew, cuz sailing life was very hard.

Jenn:

You and I both, I mean, we're both sailors, but the history of sailing,

Jenn:

it's a hard life working all day and food is not great and it's.

Jenn:

Labor and most people don't wanna just join up.

Jenn:

So they would get, they would go to an inn and people who were very, very

Jenn:

drunk, they would just bring 'em onto the ship and then get the ship underway.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

And by the time they sober up, you've gotta, either you've worked

Jenn:

or you get thrown overboard.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

So, so at Pirate House, especially if you're going to Savannah with, with

Scott:

kids, that's an easy place to take kids.

Scott:

They were very cri, kid friendly, give 'em all sorts of stuff to do.

Scott:

Even if you're not with kids, you can go and the food was really good.

Scott:

Food

Jenn:

was great.

Jenn:

And like I said, they're known for that soup.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

And I even the person we saw there said he sometimes he just visits

Jenn:

Savannah and goes to the pirate house just to have that soup.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

So something to think about.

Scott:

Yeah, that was, that was pretty cool.

Scott:

One of the other places that we visited briefly, we, we just kind of walked

Scott:

outside of the DeSoto Hotel, which was actually a place where Al Capone had

Scott:

stayed during the prohibition era and that kind of, Segued us over to the

Scott:

Prohibition Museum, which we visited kind of the next day after we did all this.

Scott:

Walking around all the squares.

Scott:

We went to the Prohibition Museum.

Scott:

Now I had no idea that there was a Prohibition museum and that

Scott:

this was a thing in Savannah.

Jenn:

Savannah.

Jenn:

Yes.

Jenn:

So we go to the DeSoto Hotel, we talk about Al Capone staying there.

Jenn:

And why is Al Capone in Savannah, Georgia of all places, right.

Jenn:

And the Prohibition Museum is in Savannah, Georgia.

Jenn:

It's the only city that has a prohibition museum.

Jenn:

So why is it in Savannah, Georgia?

Jenn:

And just to give a a address it's on south.

Jenn:

Saint Julian Street in Savannah, Georgia.

Jenn:

So Savannah, as you had said, is on the waterfront and it

Jenn:

has a lot of mini islands.

Jenn:

It's a very kind of southern

Jenn:

inlet where there's all these kind of waterways.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

To get in and a little mini islands.

Jenn:

And so you get these local people.

Jenn:

Men who know these waterways so well.

Jenn:

And so when prohibition happens, and we'll talk more about prohibition, but basically

Jenn:

what it is, is the illegal manufacturing cell and transportation of alcohol.

Jenn:

It happens for 13 years in America from 1920 to

Scott:

And, and, and one of the things you point out pretty early on, which again, as

Scott:

someone who, who didn't know a lot about this, I, I always assume that prohibit.

Scott:

Right during, from 1920 to 19, 19 33 was like na.

Scott:

Nobody was allowed to drink alcohol or any of that stuff.

Scott:

And really what it was, and you clarified very well in the video,

Scott:

was that you can't transport it.

Scott:

You can't sell it, you can't

Jenn:

it.

Jenn:

Yes.

Jenn:

But you can drink

Scott:

but you can drink it.

Scott:

Right?

Scott:

So come on over.

Scott:

I will serve you some alcohol.

Scott:

That's

Jenn:

had a ton of alcohol in your house in 1920 and some some

Jenn:

way were able to sustain it for 13 years, you could drink it.

Jenn:

And that's kind of the lie that everybody kind of masqueraded

Jenn:

for 13 years Speakeasys.

Jenn:

That's what the lie, we have it.

Jenn:

We have the alcohol.

Jenn:

I'm not gonna say how we got it, but we've had it and we've had it for a long time.

Jenn:

So Savannah is so unique.

Jenn:

because you can't manufacture it.

Jenn:

And because they're always going after finding people

Jenn:

who are manufacturing alcohol.

Jenn:

You're gonna get the, the, the moonshiners Yep.

Jenn:

Here and there.

Jenn:

But the biggest manufacturers will be outside of America would,

Jenn:

which will be in, you know, Havana would be down in, you know,

Scott:

there's rum coming up from, from, you know, south of Florida.

Jenn:

All of that southern area down there and.

Jenn:

So rum sugar coming up from that area, the easiest way to get it into America

Jenn:

was Savannah, because of all these little river inlets and all these little islands.

Scott:

and, and it's, it's a relatively straight shot and

Scott:

we show like a, a map snapshot.

Scott:

And logistically, it, it actually makes a lot of sense, especially for back then.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

Right.

Scott:

It's, it's pretty much a straight shot from the Bahama areas,

Scott:

you know, and stuff like that.

Scott:

So if they're just sailing ships up, yeah.

Scott:

They can go straight to Savannah.

Scott:

and they can go to any one of dozens upon dozens upon dozens of these inlets.

Scott:

They don't have to go straight into the big city.

Scott:

They can go to an inlet and then go into the big city and then get to a car.

Jenn:

So the Feds had a hard time chasing them, knowing where they were going

Jenn:

under, you know, understanding where, you know, there wasn't one way in.

Jenn:

And that's what Al Capone.

Jenn:

Capitalized on, and that's why Savannah was a great drop.

Jenn:

Plus, they had these underground tunnels that they were

Jenn:

using during the pirate era.

Jenn:

And then the Model T comes out in 1920, which is a, a, a mass

Jenn:

produced car from Henry Ford.

Jenn:

And so the Model T combined with Savannah having this great topography,

Jenn:

this is where Al Capone starts.

Jenn:

His basically the.

Jenn:

The importing of alcohol into America so he can get it on the road and

Jenn:

disperse it out into the, united States.

Jenn:

So his mechanic is in Savannah.

Scott:

That's right.

Jenn:

Because what feds will try to do is shoot out your radiator

Jenn:

cuz they can shoot your radiator.

Jenn:

It'll make your car stop.

Jenn:

So he would double, triple enforce the radiator.

Jenn:

And that's, The mechanic would be outta Savannah because that would be the

Jenn:

one place that they could catch 'em or see them, or they'd be the slowest.

Jenn:

Cuz as soon as they're out of the city, they're not gonna know who's who.

Jenn:

But another thing that grows out of prohibition is nascar.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

I thought that was so interesting.

Scott:

It's, it's, we talk a lot about, in our videos, kind of the, the

Scott:

effects that we still have today of the, his historical events that we

Scott:

are kind of walking and revisiting.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

Whether it's HeLa Lacks and the HeLa cell.

Scott:

And all the.

Scott:

Medicine that came from that, or any number of things, you know, across our

Scott:

videos and this one, there's multiple things that actually kind of came out

Scott:

of prohibition, whether it was property tax or, or some, something along

Jenn:

those lines.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

Income tax.

Scott:

Income tax.

Scott:

Mm-hmm.

Scott:

You mentioned that because they lost the sales tax from taxing the alcohol.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

So, so so sales tax came there, but NASCAR was one of the ones.

Scott:

Yes.

Scott:

I thought that was so

Jenn:

interesting because they need to make fast cars to get away from the feds.

Jenn:

And so they have competitions who can be the, who can make the fastest car,

Jenn:

who can make the better engine, who has the best mechanics, what gangster

Jenn:

has the best mechanics working for them, and they would race their cars.

Jenn:

Right.

Scott:

And so there was like a legitimate.

Scott:

Side of just, Hey, we've got these Model Ts or whatever was kind of

Scott:

evolving quickly throughout that kind of decade and a half-ish.

Scott:

And they actually said that the, the, the guys who were running moonshine

Scott:

tended to be, have the fastest and the best cars and would win these

Scott:

recreational races on the weekdays.

Scott:

On the weekends they'd go run moonshine.

Jenn:

Exactly.

Jenn:

. Right.

Scott:

So they're doing the legal stuff during the week and on

Scott:

the weekends they're off running moonshine, running away from the cops.

Scott:

And they.

Scott:

There's even plaques, right?

Scott:

Saying like, NASCAR got its start, you know, from prohibition and

Scott:

like the, some of those model, model those Ford models Yeah.

Scott:

Were some of the most beloved models.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

Because people could work on 'em and they could kind of customize

Scott:

'em and you know, it's basically the original stock car racer.

Scott:

Yeah.

Jenn:

First kind of mass manufactured car.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

To get kind of like universal tools.

Jenn:

So let's talk a little bit about prohibition.

Jenn:

I want people to understand like, what's this coming from?

Jenn:

How?

Jenn:

How does the country say no to alcohol?

Jenn:

How do you get

Scott:

this?

Scott:

Was this, this was interesting cause I never really knew

Jenn:

alcohol.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

So the temperance movement starts in about.

Jenn:

50, and it starts in the northern east in Maine.

Jenn:

And temperance really starts from women.

Jenn:

And I, I stress this in the, in the video, the way the American family, the

Jenn:

nuclear family was set up in the late 18 hundreds was the male the head male

Jenn:

was the breadwinner for the family.

Jenn:

No one could touch.

Jenn:

Income that he could bring into the family.

Jenn:

Even if a woman worked.

Jenn:

Even if children worked, cuz there is, you know, female labor and child labor.

Jenn:

They're not ever gonna get anywhere close to what a man can bring in as far as

Scott:

Yep.

Scott:

That's just how the world was

Jenn:

is how the world was then.

Jenn:

So also the male is also feeling the responsibility of that he

Jenn:

takes care of his wife, his children, usually any sisters.

Jenn:

and mother that he has because men would die earlier, so usually

Jenn:

his, his father would be dead.

Jenn:

And so you would be the central figure in your family.

Jenn:

Now if you mix that with alcohol, which at the time was the drug of choice to numb

Jenn:

any kind of trauma, to numb any kind of

Scott:

I mean, if you think about it, it's not long after World War I.

Jenn:

Yes.

Jenn:

And, and it's all of these, like, really, it's, it's the thing that we, that people

Jenn:

could turn to for any kind of help.

Jenn:

And because alcohol and saloons were.

Jenn:

Accustomed to men.

Jenn:

It was, it was what men did.

Jenn:

They would go

Scott:

was their social setting.

Scott:

Their social circles

Jenn:

they met.

Jenn:

Everything revolves about alcohol, and there was no limits.

Jenn:

People weren't watching you to make sure you weren't having too much, and

Jenn:

so you get a real problem with people.

Jenn:

Alcoholism and then losing all of your money.

Jenn:

And then because you are the breadwinner for the family, you

Jenn:

cannot hold down a stable job.

Jenn:

And so the whole family would suffer and women would go to

Jenn:

work but not make as much.

Jenn:

Children would go into the workhouses, not make as much, and then you have this real.

Jenn:

Trauma, family trauma and just long term where it's just

Jenn:

affecting generations of people.

Jenn:

that, So out of

Jenn:

that comes Yes.

Jenn:

These women, this temperance movement, the demo in alcohol is ruining

Jenn:

our families, ruining our men.

Jenn:

We can't have stable lives.

Jenn:

We can't have good lives because alcohol takes that away.

Jenn:

Alcohol turns our men.

Jenn:

Against us, and they can't provide.

Jenn:

And we can't provide.

Scott:

And so eventually it was the 18th amendment,

Jenn:

so it becomes the 18th amendment, and it's passed January

Jenn:

16th, 1919, but it doesn't go into effect for one year after it passes.

Jenn:

So that's why they say 1920, because it's January 17th, 1920, it takes effect.

Jenn:

So basically it gave everyone a year where the, yeah, the amendment passed.

Jenn:

You have a year.

Jenn:

But that's where you get this

Jenn:

Prohibition movement.

Jenn:

It's 13 years.

Jenn:

And again, we talk about it's, it's the manufacturer, the transportation and the

Jenn:

sale of alcohol, but not the drinking.

Jenn:

And so that's, these things are a direct result of this.

Jenn:

Speakeasys are the direct result of prohibition and speakeasy's.

Jenn:

I read that in 1925.

Jenn:

30,000 to a hundred thousand speakeasys in New York City.

Jenn:

Wow.

Jenn:

I know.

Jenn:

So these are, these are places where you can go and drink alcohol in secret, right.

Jenn:

If you knew the secret password.

Jenn:

And a lot of them did it like in Savannah.

Jenn:

Locker room style.

Jenn:

So locker room style is, you go in and you drink and you're a member

Jenn:

of the locker room and you kind of put your name on a ticket and at

Jenn:

the end of the month you get a bill.

Jenn:

And your bill is your dues to the locker room.

Scott:

basically running up a tab for a month.

Scott:

Yes.

Scott:

And then you pay that at the end of the month.

Jenn:

you're not directly paying for alcohol.

Jenn:

You're paying your dues to the locker room, but you're paying for consuming that

Scott:

alcohol.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

And I will say right to, to kind of to pull back the museum itself.

Scott:

The museum proper does a Fanta, it's fantastic.

Scott:

It gets completely immersive experience.

Scott:

You come in and there's like, Videos playing up on the wall,

Scott:

but they have all this set up.

Scott:

You feel like you're back in the 1920s era, they've got

Scott:

mannequins that are like very real.

Scott:

They, and there's docents that are walking around that are dressed

Scott:

up, you know, for, for the era.

Scott:

All sorts of stuff to do.

Scott:

Our kids loved it.

Scott:

I mean, we just kind of let them go and they were looking around.

Scott:

They, you know, they enjoyed it.

Scott:

So it does a good job of walking you through the temperance and

Scott:

then the 18th Amendment comes about and what the effects that has.

Jenn:

So we talked about speakeasys.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

That's where the moonshiners come from.

Jenn:

Right?

Jenn:

Right.

Jenn:

Because now you can get up into the hills and make your own stills and

Jenn:

nobody can find you and you can run your own moonshine and it's becomes a

Jenn:

big business because again, any way you can get alcohol is gonna be in high.

Jenn:

At the time, because you can't legally buy it or get it

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

And they even had that one fun little section where it's

Scott:

like, here's the moonshine.

Scott:

It's like a farmer, like in, in his, in his

Jenn:

meet the hillbilly.

Scott:

the hillbilly with no shirt on and coveralls and a hat.

Scott:

You know, he is talking about

Jenn:

making it from corn mash and

Scott:

You know, it was, that was amusing.

Jenn:

And they, they all the things they, how women would, you know,

Jenn:

how you would find you could make a still in your house, and then how

Jenn:

would you hide alcohol in your house?

Jenn:

The different flasks would be disguised as certain little, you know, things

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

Has all these artifacts of like how the people would hide alcohol.

Scott:

It was really neat.

Scott:

It

Jenn:

was really neat.

Jenn:

So what comes out of this era is also two big things that we'll talk about.

Jenn:

The flapper movement, right?

Jenn:

And the roaring twenties and the gangster movement.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

So the flappers, the 1920s because alcohol before prohibition was very

Jenn:

male and males going to bars, and it was a very, a male social structure.

Jenn:

Out of it comes this this fun.

Jenn:

You know, illegal, you know, pushing against the man where women and

Jenn:

men did it together in secret.

Scott:

All of a sudden because it was secret, because it was

Scott:

against the rules, everybody was

Jenn:

doing.

Jenn:

Everyone was doing.

Jenn:

So you get the flapper, you get the modern woman who's doing this too,

Jenn:

with her short hair and her short skirt and her Charleston dancing.

Jenn:

And she's partaking of alcohol too.

Jenn:

Mixed drinks.

Jenn:

And now it becomes a social engagement for men and women to have fun.

Jenn:

So women are now accepted into drinking culture and you get all

Jenn:

the fashion that comes out of that.

Jenn:

And you know, the dancing and the whole.

Jenn:

Speakeasy culture.

Jenn:

But then on the other side of it, who's taking the risk?

Jenn:

Who's taking the risk of bringing in the alcohol, protecting the alcohol,

Jenn:

getting it, you get the gangster movement.

Jenn:

Right.

Jenn:

So you're gonna get your Al Capones, you're gonna get

Jenn:

your machine gun in Kelly's.

Jenn:

And so they talk about that and that movement, you know, you get the, the

Jenn:

Valentine's Day massacre and then the big cities, you get the mafia setting up

Jenn:

because they're gonna be racketeering, they're gonna be finding ways to get

Scott:

they're, they're setting up their little empires.

Jenn:

Yeah, and making money off of that.

Jenn:

They're taking the risk and they're getting rich over it.

Jenn:

So that whole era is from the 1920s to the 1930s because of that.

Jenn:

So that's very neat.

Jenn:

So those are the things you're gonna get that come out of the prohibition movement.

Jenn:

And then of course, December 5th, 1933, FDR will pass the 21st Amendment.

Jenn:

It's easy to remember cuz to be 21 to drink the 21st amendment,

Jenn:

it overturns prohibition.

Jenn:

And there's a lot of it, it really just becomes, you get men and women

Jenn:

saying, we don't want this anymore.

Jenn:

We are right back.

Jenn:

You know?

Jenn:

And of course if you get enough people who want something, they can move

Jenn:

government to, to, to speak their minds.

Jenn:

So that's why the 21st Amendment is.

Jenn:

Ratified in December of 1933.

Jenn:

So it's very neat.

Jenn:

At the very end of the museum, you get into a speakeasy.

Jenn:

So you get to like, say your password and go in.

Jenn:

You get to have a drink of the time.

Jenn:

And so that's kind of fun to see what that was like.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

And the whole password, and I guess this was like known of the

Scott:

era was tell them Gus sent ya

Jenn:

Yeah, it would, would depend on what the password was.

Jenn:

Like they would probably get a different name.

Jenn:

Okay.

Jenn:

Every week

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

But it was neat.

Scott:

They actually like had a door where you press the button and

Scott:

there's like, it looks like these eyes open up behind the slot.

Scott:

And it was, the kids probably did that like 10 times just by themselves.

Scott:

But it, it was, it was really, really fun.

Scott:

I was very impressed.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

And I was, I, I would say if you go to Savannah, definitely visit, I will say

Jenn:

Savannah is proud of their alcohol.

Jenn:

Legacy and history.

Jenn:

They never really shied away from the fact that they were

Jenn:

illegally bringing in alcohol.

Jenn:

There was

Scott:

yeah.

Scott:

That was kind of known, like the whole city just kind of knew like,

Scott:

oh, yeah, you know, 18th amendment, but eh, you know, whatever.

Jenn:

And they had a, a baseball team in the 1920s called the Bootleggers

Scott:

Oh.

Scott:

think I realized that.

Jenn:

So they were like, mm-hmm.

Jenn:

, you know, just try to catch us.

Jenn:

But it was very neat.

Jenn:

I definitely recommend if you're in Savannah check it

Jenn:

out because it, it is unique.

Jenn:

You're not gonna get anything like that in America.

Jenn:

Museum wise and.

Jenn:

It is unique to the story of Savannah and to America as a whole.

Jenn:

So it was a, it was a very cool museum.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

And, and Savannah itself.

Scott:

I was very surprised and, and very impressed at, at how

Scott:

much, and I enjoyed the city.

Scott:

It was, even if you just hang out on the waterfront, you can

Scott:

do a weekend there very, very easily and see plenty of things.

Scott:

And if you really want to get out there and see that historical stuff,

Scott:

you can listen to this podcast, you can pass it on to someone else.

Scott:

Or you can watch our video and you can kind of see some

Scott:

of the places that we visit.

Scott:

So we touched on history and stories that span from modern day movie.

Scott:

Force Gump to mobsters running liquor during the Prohibition era.

Scott:

Or maybe you wanna find some pirate history like Robert Lewis Stevenson

Scott:

did for Treasure Island, and perhaps your daughter's troop is visiting the

Scott:

home of the founder of the Girl Scouts.

Scott:

Whatever you're hunting for when it comes to history, I bet Savannah can provide

Scott:

you at least a sampling, if not more.

Scott:

Thank you for listening to the Talk with History podcast, and please reach out to

Scott:

us at our website, talk with history.com.

Scott:

But more importantly, if you know someone else that might enjoy this podcast, please

Scott:

share this with them, especially if you think that today's topic would interest

Scott:

a friend, shoot 'em a text and tell 'em to look up the Talk With History podcast

Scott:

because we rely on you, our community to grow, and we appreciate you all every day.

Scott:

We'll talk to you next time.

About the Podcast

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Talk With History
A Historian and Navy Veteran talk about history inspired travels, their YouTube channel journey, and examine history through conversations with the curious, the explorers, and the history lovers out there

About your host

Profile picture for Scott Bennie

Scott Bennie

Host of the Talk With History podcast, Producer over at Walk with History on YouTube, Editor of the Hashtag Historic newsletter.