Pescadero during Prohibition (3)

[I wrote this in 1977.]

All during Prohibition, Pescadero provided the colorful backdrop for a violent whiskey war between smugglers…..and the residents of the tiny village.

And when undercover agents learned from their key sources that a well-connected booze ring routinely landed whiskey near Pescadero, the liquor police swarmed into the quiet seaside town. First on their list was to find $20,000 worth of missing Scotch whiskey bound for San Francisco.

Insiders, privy to the exclusive details, were persuaded to talk. As usual, these folks explained, the smugglers arrived when it waas dark to unload their valuable cargo on the secluded beach. But this time, the men temporarily buried the whiskey in the sand with the idea of digging it up later. With sand in their shoes, they fled the scene, not in high-powered automobiles, but in their high speed motorboats–to pick up more booze from a “mother ship” anchored some distance away.

Unknown to the smugglers, a gang of five locals hid in the shadows nearby, watching the rumrunners bury the whiskey in the cold sand–and as soon as it was safe they rushed over to the spot and dug the liquid treasure up. Within an hour the whiskey was being distributed throughout Pescadero and they had become “hijackers.”

This was a dangerous thing to do.

As soon as the rumrunners returned to the beach, and discovered their whiskey was gone, it didn’t take them long to figure out what had happened. Scowling, the heavily armed men headed for Pescadero, bursting into homes, threatening lives, demanding to know what happened to the stolen booze.

Finally they hit the jackpot and cornered one of the locals involved in the theft. During that long night, he was beat-up until he talked, implicating all his fellow “hijackers,” all of whom talked and finally returned what was left of the Scotch whiskey.

This was the dark side of Prohibition.

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About June Morrall

1947 - 2010
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