An international group with members in AZ, CA, CO, FL, IN, NM, OK, OR, SC, United Kingdom and Canada
Dedicated to the lives and times of the men and women of the Old West, and to the spirit of the era, 1860 through 1890
Writins of Weakeyes Cody
Talented and witty writings
The Jug @2004
It is a certainty that the great comfort of the old west was not the preacher, not the missionary, not the doctors, not the arts, but whisky.
In my research of our progenitors, I discovered that the freighters who unfailingly drove the wagons of wares up from the City Of Angels, back in the 1870s carried among the much needed goods, 20% whisky. I pondered this a bit. Here we have people living hundreds of miles across the sweeps of the vast Mojave, working the meager mines and living in the worst possible conditions one can imagine, in dust, insect ridden caves and tents and adobe shacks. No entertainment except an occasional fiddler or harmonica player. Why would whisky be so dominant in that precious cargo drawn along the rutted dusty roads from Los Angeles, to the depths of the desert?
Then, after watching television for a few hours one day it occurred to me why. We have pills for headache, arthritis, rheumatism, toothache, constipation, diarrhea, Mental depression, hypertension, stress, lethargy, acid reflux, stuffed noses, fever, allergies, back pain, menstrual cramps and even for extended muscles. Our poor ancestors out here had none of these. They arose each morning by the grace of God and endured whatever the law of nature inflicted upon them. Which was no less than the maladies perpetrated on us each day.
Thus, it became clear to me that the 'jug' became the savior of their suffering bodies in so many ways. After hammering at the walls of a hardrock mine from sunup to sundown, or sawing wood or clearing brush, or whatever endeavor they did while the poor women exercised their bodies bent over a rub board, cooking in hellish kitchens, and trying to keep babies alive in this environment, then the fact that any of them secretly or openly reached for the 'jug' and imbibed freely to lessen the pain of body or thought, is no surprise to me.
Anyone of us who has ever camped between the walls of a canyon to hear the lonely cry of the few birds that dwell here or the coyote calling to nothing in particular, has to know that there's not much out there in the way of mental diversion. In the gold fields a few years before, the miners or gold seekers, being mostly men under forty, built fandango halls and some tied bandanas around their sleeves to signify they acted as female during the dances, were desperate for the mere sight of a woman. And when one did come along in the seat of a wagon sitting beside her husband, crowds lined the street just for a look at her. My point; we've come a long way from calico dresses sewn by the maids of the old west to the mini skirts of Century City, and the malls of today. Entertainment and diversion from the mundane has risen far far above the 'jug' that comprised 20% of the freighters cargo.
I wonder today, what percentage of the freighters cargo contains chemicals designed to do what the 'jug' did in 1870? So, while the 'jug' wrecked homes, killed minds, ended dreams and created failure, it also brought comfort, consolation, and patience to those who sought it. Mankind is indeed a paradoxical curiosity. Don't you think?
~ Weakeyes Cody