Monday, April 06, 2009

A Vacant Lot

Nothing much to report.

We had some snow last night, and a lot of wind. The wind continues, but the snow melted away before sunset. It blew so hard it knocked down several sections of the fence that surrounds the vacant lot across the street, giving me an opportunity to be an urban archaeologist and naturalist.

I don't have much to show for the opportunity, though. A beer bottle:

That's a Birk Brothers Brewing Co. bottle. The company existed from 1885-1961. The back of the bottle says, "This bottle is never sold." It's a wonder they were in business so long!

But they were a real Chicago brewery, alright. A 1922 article in the NY Times reports:


E.T. Birk of Chicago is Freed by a Jury of Charge of Transgressing Voltead Act.

A precedent was established in the Federal Court here today when a jury before Judge Wilkerson acquitted Edward J. Birk, president of Birk Brothers' Brewery, who was accused of aiding in the manufacture and sale of beer of illegal alcoholic content.

The acquittal came after a four-day trial. When the case started F.J. Birk, Vice President of the brewery; F.J. Wetzel, shipping clerk, and Leonard Dressler, brewmaster, also were on trial. The cases against these defendants were dismissed because the Government found that its witnesses had vanished. [my emphasis]

This was the first case tried here before a jury in which officials of a brewery were accused of violating the law....

The jury reached a verdict after three and a half hours' deliberation. When the verdict was read Birk walked up to the jury box and announced in a loud voice: "Gentlemen of the jury, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart." He then turned to the Judge and said, "And I want to thank you, too, Judge Wilkerson."

While a controversy was pending over taxes claimed by the Internal Revenue Department a squad of prohibition agents sent from Washington in the Spring of 1921 raided loop saloons and seized twenty-five barrels of Birk Brothers beer.

The brewery was closed by the Government and remained closed until April of this year, when at a hearing of forfeiture proceedings instituted by the Government, it was turned back by Judge Carpenter to its owners.
Can't you just hear the theme song from The Untouchables in the background?

History in my front yard.

Watching me take pictures of the bottle in situ were a pair of mourning doves.

Wikipedia says up to 70 million mourning doves are shot annually in the United States, for sport and for food, but since they have up to six broods annually, they're in no danger of disappearing. It also says they are called mourning doves for their call, but that makes no sense to me. I've always believed they were mourning doves because they look like they're dressed in mourning, and I believe it still.

So believe me, or believe Wikipedia.

Like I said, nothing much to report.


Jeannelle said...

That little old bottle led to an interesting piece of history for us to read. Thank you!

The mourning dove photo is wonderful! I figured the name came from their song/call, but had never heard for sure. I can't imagine shooting them.....their distant relative, the annoying pigeon, is another story; there is always a flock of them in residence around our barn and silos.

shutterhand said...

Bob, you were born to research. Great little history on the Birk Brothers. You need to travel with my friend Mike C up to the UP and dig old bottles out of the ground near a little town now gone known as "Sunny Italy." He has made some amazing finds. By the way, pigeons are amazing birds in their own right. Amazing fliers. I have seen them avoid being grabbed by the speedy peregrine falcons down by the Mississippi River on numerous occasions. Unless taken by by complete surprise from below and behind I have seen nothing that can take them. Impressive evasive maneuvers. Mourning doves always seem to get caught. Nice shot of this citified pair.