Huerfano County, Colorado
Oral Interviews

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Bootlegging Days

Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Dick Chenault


I couldn't get much beer for the fourth of July, so I called this pretty good friend of mine. We go up to Denver and chase women together. He said, “Benny, when you grow short of beer, let me know. I can get you some.” I said, “Man, I can't get no beer for the fourth.” He said, “You go to Pueblo. I can help you get fifty kegs of beer. But you have to go at night. Take a good canvas and sides on your truck, so you can cover it, so no one can see anything. When you get the beer, you stop in Pueblo, put it in storage and next morning just get up and come up here.” I said, “Who do I pay?” and he said, “You pay me, you don't pay nobody.” So, I went up there. When I got there, oh, outside of Rocky Ford, someplace on the prairie, they had a camp of soldiers that were prisoners. That's where we went to get the beer. The government sent this beer to the prisoners, and the big shots sold it. So he gave me fifty kegs. Maybe if I had asked for more, he would have given me. So, I brought fifty back. That's pretty good help.

I stopped at my friends. He said, “How you come out?” I said, “Pretty good. I got fifty.” He said, “You need some more?” I said, “Yes, I wish I could find another fifty” “Go down to Trinidad,” he says, “to a certain place, a pool hall. Stop there and you'll find a man there. He knows everything. He'll take you over there and give you fifty more.” So I went there, and I went to the pool hall and pretty soon a guy talks to me. He says, “Are you Benny?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “You wanna go' I said, “Yes.” I don't know where we went. It was at night. We got fifty kegs and came back.

I stopped at my friends again. He says, “You got the fifty?” I said, “Yes.” “Alright, Benny, now you need whiskey and wine.” I said, “I ain't got no license to sell that.” “Bootleg, man” he says, “that's the way to make money. Here, take four kegs of whiskey, pint whiskey.

You can't sell them by the shot. Sell them by the bottle.” And he gave me twenty cases of wine. He says, “Go ahead.” So I says, “How much this gonna cost me?” He says, “Well, after you sell it, I'll tell you how much. I'm not worried about you.” I'm kinda scared to sell it next morning, but then the sheriff drives up, so I take him out and give him a drink. “I see you're selling whiskey here,” he says, “sell all you can today. If I see a state man, well, I'll let you know. But nobody will bother you today.” So, I even sold to the sheriff after that. The county commissioners and everybody. I sold all the whiskey, all the wine, and about five hundred cases of beer I had. One wild fourth of July. Over 2500 people.

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