Apparently, Prohibition did not end in 1933 after all, at least in State College, Pennsylvania, where it has now become a tradition to revive the failed social experiment each State Patty’s Day. All the downtown bars, six pack shops, beer distributors and state stores will be closed this year. With the exception of the government-owned state stores, all the private businesses are being compensated by university and municipal government money to partially offset the big financial hit they will take by closing on a Saturday. The servers and bartenders, who are not exactly in the same wealth category as bar owners, will be given a one day unpaid vacation, on the heels of sober THON weekend and two dead spring break weekends to follow.
If the Borough and Penn State are going to bring back 1920s style Prohibition one day a year, I think the students should have some fun with it. Instead of wearing green t-shirts and tacky, plastic shamrock necklaces, why not go full blown Roaring Twenties retro? The guys could wear zoot suits and the girls could dress up like flappers. It would be like Halloween or Karnival, except everyone would be going with the same basic theme.
Over the past few years, downtown retailers who have dared to sell State Patty’s Day themed apparel and merchandise has raised the ire of the local Establishment. It would be interesting to see whether retailers selling zoot suits, fedoras and flapper style hats and dresses would be similarly scorned. It would be more than a little ironically delightful to see the State College Establishment angered by clothes worn by the young bad asses of their grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ generation.
For one day a year, Penn State students could revive long forgotten 1920s slang, which would be far cooler than International Talk Like a Pirate Day. If the Man is going to close all the gin mills, the sheiks and shebas will indulge in giggle water at home, just like they do with muggles. Doesn’t that sound so much more creative than putting “aaarrrr” at the end of every sentence and misconjugating the verb “to be?”
Matt McClenahen is a criminal defense lawyer in State College, Pennsylvania, home of Penn State University.