One of the ways that flappers rebelled against convention during the 1920s was by frequenting speakeasies and other private clubs where they could drink illegally. Previously, bars and saloons were considered an all-male space and respectable women did not drink in public. Even after Prohibition was over, Connecticut law made it illegal to serve a woman alcohol at or within three feet of a bar.
During Prohibition (1919-1933), alcohol was still readily available in Connecticut. The coastline in Fairfield and Bridgeport provided direct access to international waters and ships that carried liquor from Europe, the Bahamas, and Canada. "Rum runners" used speedboats to deliver the liquor to networks along the Connecticut shoreline. Inland, bootleggers kept a steady supply of liquor flowing from New York and along the Post Road, and people distilled alcohol in homes, farms, and shops. Loopholes in the law enabled people to buy alcohol at a drugstore with a doctor's prescription, to make their own wine for family consumption, or to drink at a "speakeasy" that qualified as a private club.
Pictured from left to right:
Left: Alcohol bottle (1920-1925)
This bottle from Southport's Switzer Pharmacy contained medicinal alcohol, and it likely predates 1925. The term "rubbing alcohol" came into use in the mid-1920s, and emphasized that the alcohol was not intended for consumption, a significant distinction in Prohibition-era America.
Center: Perry's Cider Brandy bottle (1935-1944)
In 1920, local banker Francis Burr Perry was arrested and charged with manufacturing alcohol, along with other Prohibition-related infractions. A government raid on his property found 77,000 gallons of cider and wine (more than twice the volume of a standard sized in-ground swimming pool!). The charge of manufacturing alcohol was dropped, since Perry had a government permit.
Right: Glass liquor bottle (1956)
"FEDERAL LAW FORBIDS One Quart": After Prohibition was repealed in 1933, Federal laws prohibited the reuse or sale of used liquor bottles, and through the mid-1960s, all liquor sold was required to be in bottles that had the above statement embossed in the glass. This requirement was intended to discourage the reuse of bottles by bootleggers and moonshiners.
Women were also active in the movement to repeal Prohibition, which gained steam as crime and corruption related to Prohibition became more widespread. Fairfield's Annie B. Jennings and Sylvia O'Dwyer were among the leading "society" women who became active in the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform, which claimed more than a million members by 1932. Using their influence and political ties, they helped make the cause of repealing Prohibition respectable.