Seventy-Five Years Ago: Gearing up for the Big Night

Counting Down to April 7, the Anniversary of the Return of Legal Beer

City officials and beermakers around the country began announcing their plans for the evening of April 6 and wee hours of April 7. The national centerpiece would be a live radio broadcast from Chicago, St. Louis, and Milwaukee, beginning at 11:30 pm and hosted by the Columbia Broadcasting System.

Remember, in 1933 commercial television had not yet arrived, so people gathered around their radios the way we congregate now in front of our flat screens. And programming focused on sounds rather than images. In this case, there would be the usual round of speeches and music.

But the program would also feature: --- the roar of three aircraft departing from the St. Louis airport. Each would carry a case of beer. Two planes were headed to Washington, carrying beer in two cargos, one for President Roosevelt, one for Vice President Garner. The third plane was destined for New York and former governor and presidential candidate Al Smith, a fervent supporter of ending Prohibition. --- the sound of trains loaded with beer pulling out of Chicago railyards --- the hiss and swoosh of the first beer tap being pulled at a Miluwakee tavern --- general merrymaking and mayhem from taverns and hotel bars in the three host cities.

Several people were schedule to speak during the broadcast, including Gus Busch, Jr., son of Anheuser-Busch president August Busch, Sr. and general manager of the A-B brewery. As I noted the other day, you can hear his speech here -- but why not wait until the witching hour itself? Just after midnight on April 7!