Sunday, July 4, 2010

Beer on the 4th: 1876 Centennial & 34 Years Later in 1910, a Century Ago

We're not sure if any neat thread ties the 4ths of July from 1876 and 1910. In 1876 the Statesman may have taken with week off, and there are few details about the 4th locally. In 1910 there is much more in both the Statesman and Capital Journal. The presence of beer in both seems to reflect other, more important, issues.

Safe drinking water and health, temperance, and above all, the Civil War shaped the major conversations around the 4th.

Indeed, Garry Wills has argued that
The Gettysburg Address has become an authoritative expression of the American spirit - as authoritative as the Declaration, and perhaps even more influential, since it determines how we read the Declaration. For most people now, the Declaration means what Lincoln told us it means, as a way of correcting the Constitution itself without overthrowing it.

In 1876 Ulysses S. Grant was President. His Presidential administration was decidedly less successful than his Union Generalship. Nevertheless, his Memoirs is one of the touchstones in American letters and prose style.

Locally, Sam Adolph was advertising his beer. Advertising and editorial were not clearly delineated in papers at this time, so it might be best to consider these advertorial! Water quality was an issue, so the boiling in beer-making would sterilize the water and make for a more healthy beverage. It should not be surprising to see it pitched at families therefore!

"Adolph's bottled lager stands unsurpassed on this coast. He delivers it to families nearly as cheap as water."

"Adolph's beer is carrying off the 1st prize in the way of most extensive trade. He is prepared to supply families with bottled beer, or the article in any sized kegs."

In many ways more interesting than the beer notices is this significantly larger ad from a Portland wine merchant. "California Claret," "Sonoma White Wine" and "St. Helena White Wine"* show just how established were the Napa and Sonoma brands in 1876! But the emphasis on "Rhine Wine" and the whites suggests just how different was popular taste - sweet and white, not red and dry, prevailed.

A year later, in 1877, Klinger & Beck opened their brewery.

A century ago, in 1910, 34 years after the 1876 celebration, William Howard Taft was President. By this time lynchings were common, and from this standpoint Grant's approach to Reconstruction and his support of the 15th Amendment was decidedly more progressive. It is awful to read nearly daily in the paper about lynchings in this early part of the 19th century.

This 4th of July ad for the Meyers department store in the Reed Opera House, appears to show a Union and Confederate veteran reconciling in friendship as a metaphor for mercantile service and the quality of goods. As we saw with the differences between February 14th and February 12th, 1909, the Civil War cast a long, long shadow.

Graphically, the ad is interesting for the way a block of supplied art was inserted into a local ad designed and set at the newspaper.

At the bottom of the ad is a teaser for the Cherry Fair. At least as far as newspaper coverage is concerned, it was a bigger deal than the 4th of July.

This front page cluster shows that the Cherry Fair was competing with the 4th for space in the paper!

Falls City, a logging town in the foothills of the coast range, appears to have had the biggest area celebration in 1910, followed by Stayton, and then in town at Marion Square. The ballgame held near the State Hospital was also a notable event.

Though the Union St. Railroad Bridge had not yet been built, the Falls City, Salem & Western line connected West Salem to Falls City. This map is from a promotional pamphlet, How to Get to Falls City: The Queen of City of Polk County, published by Sunset magazine and the Southern Pacific Railroad. It shows the interurban rail system of a century ago, shortly after the bridge was completed. Falls City and Corvallis are about equidistant from Salem. West Salem to Falls City took one and a quarter hours according to a 1911 schedule.

Some celebrations were held in dry towns or counties. The celebration at Marion Square had a heavy temperance and WCTU presence on the schedule of speakers and events. According to this piece,

The men who have thronged the bottling works at the big Salem brewery the last two days, getting their suitcases filled with bottled beer to pack off into dry counties south and west of Salem looked solemn and guilty but they numbered hundreds....

Many drayloads were shipped by express...Boxes, barrels, and kegs...- all containing straigh Salem brewery products went out to dealers and private parties all determined to have something wet in connection with Fourth of July celebrations. The day of liberty and freedom when the eagle screams and the British are once more routed from the battle fields of the revolution is not to go off without parched throats being refreshed with something besides river water more or less polluted with sewage. The big Salem brewery reaps a golden harvest from the business of the dry counties...So goes the merry battle over booze...As the druggists and bootleggers now all help sustain prohibition, the day may come when the brewers will find this their most profitable traffic and will also sustain the farce called voting people dry.

(At the bottom is an ad for Chamberlain's Stomach and Liver Tablets, which "gently stimulate the liver and bowels to expel poisonous matter, cleanse the system, cure constipation and sick headache.")

*The St. Helena wine could well be that of Charles Krug. Here's an 1881 biography, a discussion of the St. Helena Viticultural Club formed in 1875 with Krug as a principal, and the modern incarnation of Charles Krug Winery owned by the Peter Mondavi family.

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