Baltimore Evening Sun (20 June 1911): 6.

THE FREE LANCE

Exactly 43,857,959 Americans, or 47½ per cent. of the total population of the country, live in dry territory and are thus compelled, at least officially, to suffer an infinite hiatus between drinks. In Maryland there are 29 kaif-keepers to every 10,000 of population, and about 68 per cent. of the State’s ares is dry. The dryest States are Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, North Dakota and Tennessee, which have exiled the rum demon altogether. The wettest is good old Jersey, which has but 30 square miles of wet territory. The largest dry city in the country is Atlanta, Ga., which has a population of 154,839. There are four others of more than 100,000 population—Memphis, Birmingham, Ala., and Cambridge, Mass.

These affecting facts I claw from the Anti-Saloon League Year Book for 1911, a pretty little volume bound in green. Of exactly the same size, but bound in red, is “The Text Book of True Temperance,” published by the United States Brewers’ Association. Putting these two books side by side, one comes upon a maze of contradictory and confusing statistics. For instance, the Anti-Saloon League book points out that New Jersey, the wettest of the States, has a population about equal to that of Maine and Kansas, two very dry States, taken together, and then proceeds to make the following damning comparisons:

  Maine & New Jersey. Kansas.
Convicts in State‚Äôs prisons 1,827 1,038
Insane 6,075 3,510
College students 3,214 7,604
Unmortgaged homes 61,755 192,046
 


In other words, New Jersey, with her 11,000 public drinking places, is long on crooks, lunatics and mortgages and short on the higher learning, while in Maine and Kansas, with their unofficial drug stores, conditions are reversed. At once it appears that the drug store, whatever its evils otherwise, at least works for education, prosperity, sanity and family life and against immorality. But halt! Here is another table—this time from the text-book of the brewers:

  New Jersey. Maine.
Divorces in 20 years 7,441 14,194
Lawful marriages 335,800 86,502
Ratio of divorces to marriages 1 to 45 1 to 6
Ratio of divorces to population 1 to 253 1 to 42


And coming to the stated causes of divorces we find the following percentage credited to intemperance:

  United States. Maine.
In the husband 5.3 16.9
In the wife 1.1 3.3


Which would make it appear that the drunken husbands of Maine, that citadel of the drys, outnumber the drunken husbands of the rest of the country by more than 3 to 1, and that one marriage out of every 35 in that fair State is blasted by the excessive drinking of the husband and one out of every 125 by the boozing of the wife.


Again, the Anti-Saloon League statistics give a page to the two principal cities in Maine, Portland and Bangor, whereby it appears that the savings banks of both are bulging and that all hands are happy. Against this the brewers bring the charge that in 1903, the last year of reports, one Portlander out of every 24 was snared by the catchpolls for drunkenness and one Bangorian out of every 18, while in Milwaukee, Wis., a great beer town, the proportion of arrests to population was but 1 to 142. The Anti-Saloon League man replies to this in advance by alleging that half of the drunks of Portland are soldiers from the nearby forts, but even so the showing of Milwaukee is exactly three times as good—and there is no fort near Bangor.


Yet again, the brewers show that the death rate from alcoholism, per 100,000 of population, increased by 1.08 in Maine between the years 1880 and 1900, while in 10 selected wet States it decreased, during the same period, by .84, rising from 1.02 to 2.16 in the one case and falling from 2.47 to 1.63 in the other. But to this the Anti-Saloon League retorts that between 1880 and 1900 the prohibition laws of Maine were but meagrely enforced and the whole population rushed the can. But if this be true, how did the banks of Portland and Bangor get all that money, and how did it come about that insanity and crime declined and farmers paid off their mortgages? Does alcohol cause insanity or prevent it? And does it work in favor of the mortgage sharks or against them?


The more one goes into such figures, the more light-headed one becomes. In one place, for example, the Anti-Saloon League statistician shows that Nevada, a wet State, has four times as many lunatics per 100,000 of population as North Dakota, a dry State, the figures being 472.4 and 122.2, respectively. But pursuing the Government reports further one discovers that dry Kansas has 165.6, while wet Nebraska has but 143.0. Furthermore, the lunatics of Nebraska, between 1880 and 1903, increased by but 44.4 per cent., while those of Kansas, which went dry in 1880, increased by 65.2 per cent.!


What is the lesson? I’ll be hanged if I know. All I have sought to show to that the study of statistics, given two camorras of rival statisticians, may become almost as engrossing as the game of draw poker.


The Battle Monument, recovering from its baths, has lately taken on the fine tones of antiquity–cool grays, dull yellows, deep browns, traces of black. Isn’t it time for some Dogberry to tackle it again with acids and curry-combs?


Boil your drinking water! Dodge the joy riders! Look out for mad dogs! Keep out of those immoral moving-picture parlors! Watch the City Council! Take to the woods on Sundays!


From people who smoke cigars with bands on them and from those who profess to determine the quality of a cigar by smelling the wrapper, and from those who call a dark cigar a strong one and a light cigar a mild one, and from those who believe the dealer when he offers them a clear Havana for 6 cents—good Lord, deliver us!


Baltimore grows more civilized day by day—but mail is still hauled out to Union Station in lumbering wagons. Why not lay a pneumatic tube from the Postoffice to the station?


The Safe and Sane Fourth crusade has the support of all virtuous citizens. Meanwhile the boys of West Baltimore already celebrate with heavy cannonading. For a week past they have been bombarding the snoring burghers of that section every night. At Gilmor and Baltimore streets last night 82 explosions were heard in one hour.