National WWI Museum & Memorial recalls Prohibition

‘Vote ‘Dry’ For Us.’ American poster, c. 1918. Image courtesy of the National World War I Museum and Memorial

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Programs examining the effects of prohibition nationally and in Kansas City, a presentation on how World War I initiated the fossil fuel era and a conversation on the relationship between America’s first Stanley Cup-winning team and the Great War are among the January offerings at the National WWI Museum and Memorial.

One hundred years ago on Jan. 16, 1920, the National Prohibition Act went into effect, officially barring the manufacture and sale of alcohol under the 18th Amendment. However, like many cities during Prohibition, Kansas City refused to “go dry,” and became a haven of illegal alcohol sales, bootleggers, speakeasies and corrupt politicians, earning the moniker “Paris of the Plains.” At 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 14, Kansas City author John Simonson presents Highballs, Spooners and Crocked Dice: Prohibition in Kansas City as she shares the wet and wicked stories of the city’s notorious underground and the little-known history of President Woodrow Wilson’s wartime prohibition during a free program.

At 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 16, stir, shake and swig the night away as a glass is raised in honor of the 100th anniversary of the last night to legally buy alcohol in the U.S. before Prohibition was enforced at Last Call. Wet your whistle with J. Rieger & Co. beverages and imbibe stories from Rieger’s own Ryan Maybee on the legal ban of alcohol in Kansas City and how it affected one of the country’s booziest backyards. Tickets for the event are $10 and include tasting sips and small bites.

World War I forever changed human reliance on fossil fuels such as petroleum, a product considered essential to military and economic progress that altered battlefield expectations of how the war was fought. At 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 22, Penn State Altoona’s Brian C. Black discusses World War I and the Introduction of the Fossil Fuel Era, how the Great War informed the 20th century’s use of various energy sources, including “black gold,” and the fuel’s enduring impact on our environment and climate today in a free program presented in partnership with the Linda Hall Library and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum & Boyhood Home.

An American ice hockey team first won the Stanley Cup in 1917. At 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 23, KMBC reporter/anchor and Oklahoma National Guard Officer Rob Hughes joins sports writer Kevin Ticen for When It Mattered Most: The Forgotten Story of America’s First Stanley Cup, a talk about the story of the Seattle Metropolitans and their unlikely rise to victory on ice amid the backdrop of war. In conjunction with the Kansas City Mavericks Military Appreciation Weekend, Ticen will also appear at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena for a pregame meet and greet on Friday, Jan. 24.

In conjunction with the current special exhibition The Vietnam War: 1945-1975, the Museum and Memorial offers three engaging opportunities in January. At 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 28, former Marine Corps Helicopter pilot and Kansas City resident Colonel Thomas W. Holden (Ret.) discusses his participation in Operation Frequent Wind, the helicopter evacuation of Saigon that marked the end of the Vietnam War. At 9 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25, the Museum and Memorial offers a free workshop for teachers: The Long Wars of Vietnam. The workshop includes a tour of the exhibition, lesson plan exploration and tools to develop classroom activities through primary source material. On Friday, Jan. 31 from 5-7 p.m., the Museum and Memorial begins a series of “Final Friday” programs on the last Friday of January-March in which the general public can experience the Vietnam exhibition for free from 5-7 p.m.