Sunday, August 03, 2014
Carol from Old Mission asked about the word speakeasy. A speakeasy was the name given to a club or establishment that sold liquor illegally during Prohibition (1920 – 1933).
The import of the word is harder to pin down. One theory is that patrons of a speakeasy were instructed to speak quietly when inside so that neighbors and the police wouldn’t know what was going on. I don’t buy in to this one because I’ve never been in a quiet room occupied by people who were drinking. In addition, neighbors always know when shenanigans are going on in an adjoining building. Strangers lining up one by one or two by two all through the night would certainly attract attention. It would soon become an open secret.
A second theory is that to enter a speakeasy, patrons needed to know a password, and that they needed to say the password in a guarded tone to the doorman (Kaiser Wilhelm sent me) to prevent passersby from hearing it.
A third theory is that patrons never talked about it openly except with very good friends because it was a secret that no one wanted to jeopardize. Easy in that case would signify covertly.
Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.