Prohibition & Lardner

Updated 04 January 2006







Ring on prohibition

"No one, ever, wrote anything as well even after one drink as he would have done without it."



From "The Big Drought"
June 1923)
It seems like about the biggest difference between now and 7 or 8 yrs. ago in big cities at lease is that in them days most cities had a law that you must close your saloon at 11 o'clock or 12 o'clock or 1 o'clock. Now days according to the law, they ain't no saloons so they can and do stay open as long as they feel like.


From "Prohibition" (Bell Syndicate, 27 Jan 1924) Well they was a lot of people in the U.S. that was in flavor of such a forbidding and finely congress passed a law making the country dry and the law went into effect along about the 20 of Jan. 1920 and the night before it went into effect everybody had a big party on acct. of it being the last chance to get boiled. As these wds. is written the party is just beginning to get good.


  Some drinking stories


This one comes from regular correspondent Roger Lathbury. "In 1966 when John Dos Passos visited the school [Middlebury College] I asked him if he had known Lardner. He said he had 'sort of.' He explained as follows: He had told Scott Fitzgerald--it was 1923 or 1924--that he admired Lardner and Fitzgerald, who was a friend, offered to drive him out to meet Lardner in Great Neck. It was quite late but Fitzgerald said not to worry. They negotiated their way to the 'Mange,' and the lights were on. Fitzgerald said something like, 'I told you he'd be up.' He was. When the butler admitted them, Lardner was sitting in a chair absolutely stone paralyzed. He couldn't move, he didn't speak, he registered no recognition of their presence. That was the encounter. Would you call that knowing someone?"


From Donald Elder's, Ring Lardner: A Biography,
Ring went there [Friar's Club in New York] one night after the theater and sat drinking and listening to various people play the piano. With the excuse that he did not want to go home in evening clothes he stayed through the next day, sometimes talking to whoever came along, but mostly sitting alone in a melancholy mood. At the end of the third day someone approached him and said, "Have you heard the one about the--" Ring got up abruptly and left. A few minutes later an actor came in and said, "My God, the statue's gone!"


From Donald Elder's, Ring Lardner: A Biography,
Ring was sitting with Paul Lannin, a composer and musical director, in the Lambs club one evening when a Shakespearean actor with a head of wild, unruly hair passed by to the bar. When he came by a second time, Ring stopped him and asked, "How do you look when I'm sober?"


From Donald Elder's, Ring Lardner: A Biography,
One time Ring and Arthur Jacks made a trip to South Bend to visit Ring's sister, who was ill in the hospital there. At their hotel they had a stock of liquor which included some good Canadian whiskey and some raw Midwestern corn moonshine of very recent date. After a heavy night Jacks awoke first, in need of a drink. He tried some of the Canadian whiskey, but it promptly came up. Undaunted, he tried again, with the same result. After he had made three or four unsuccessful attempts, Ring opened one eye and said: "Arthur, if you're just practicing,. would you mind using the corn?"


From Edmund Wilson's, The Twenties, 1975 Ring told this story when drunk. "Once there were two foxes in the bathtub together, Pat and Mike. They took turns sponging each other off. Finally, one said to the other, 'Here.' he said, 'here, you've been sponging off me long enough!'--so he kicked out the stopper. And, what do you think? the next morning they woke up in the same street."



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