Kawartha Lakes Public Library - Digital Collections
Looking Back: Bootleg
, p. 30

Hooper, John, Author
Media Type:
Item Type:
Written: 16 July 1996
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.35012 Longitude: -78.73286
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Protected by copyright: Uses other than research or private study require the permission of the rightsholder(s). Responsibility for obtaining permissions and for any use rests exclusively with the user.
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Full Text

"Grandpa, have you ever told your readers the story about the time you got into trouble for bootlegging?" asked my grandson Kevin.

For a moment I was startled at what he had said. Then I realized I had told his dad about the experience I had when I was about 14 years old when I sold a bottle of Seagram's "83" for $20.

It was back in the war years when beer ration books were issued by the provincial government allowing the holder to purchase a case of 24 pints per month.

In addition to these books, liquor permits were only good for one bottle of whiskey per month as well.

One Sunday morning, (when I should have been at church) I was sitting in the lobby of the Hotel Benson when a stranger walked in and went to the registration desk. He inquired of "Chuck" McCarthy if he knew where he could purchase a bottle of liquor.

"Sorry, I have no idea" was McCarthy's reply.

"Look, I'll give 20 bucks for a 26'er if I can get my hands on one" the stranger said.

Again McCarthy told him he couldn't be of any help to him.

Overhearing what their conversation was all about and having heard that a bottle like that only cost about $3.85 my thought was "what a profit!"

I took off out the front door of the hotel and, as the person came out, I asked him if what I had heard was correct; "did I hear you say you'd give $20 for a bottle of whiskey?"

Confirming I had heard correctly, I told him I could help him out and had him drive me over to our home.

I entered the pantry and came out with my dad's bottle of Seagram's "83." I handed it to the stranger and accepted the two ten dollar bills he gave me and saw him to his car that he jumped into and drove away.

I could hardly wait until Dad came home to surprise him with the sale I had made and the huge profit he would realize from the sale of his bottle.

When Dad arrived home I went to him and, handing over the money, I said "here Dad, this is yours!"

"Where on earth did you get this money?" he asked.

I explained to him what had happened.

Well much to my surprise, he scolded me like I had never been scolded in my 14 years of life.

"Do you realize what you have done?" he asked. "My, boy you could be charged with "bootlegging" and go to jail for doing what you did. That person could have been a police officer or a Liquor Control Board inspector" he said.

"Don't you ever do a thing like that again!"

I never had my bubble burst so fast as I did at that moment and especially after thinking how proud my father would be considering the wonderful business transaction I had negotiated.

I was never involved in "bootlegging" again.

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Looking Back: Bootleg