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  • Writer's pictureDon Wilding

Tales of the rum runners

The Coast Guard closes in on a lone rum runner. (Library of Congess photo)

Nearly a century ago, there was a time that alcoholic beverages could not be manufactured, sold, transported, exported, or imported in the United States. That 13-year period, which commenced in 1920 following the ratification of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, is now remembered as “Prohibition.”

Cape Cod was a hotbed for illegal activity in those days, most of it by “rum runners” along the peninsula’s extensive shorelines.

“There was a huge case of supply and demand by people who really didn’t really believe that the 18th Amendment was worth following, especially when they realized that they could make a boatload of money by participating in somehow in getting liquor from territorial waters to the mainland,” according to Jeff Proctor, author of the novel, “Barleycorn Bay.”

Proctor, who summered in Chatham during his younger years, will present a talk on Cape Cod rum runners at the Chatham Historical Society’s Atwood House Museum this Sunday afternoon.

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