Monday, July 4, 2011

The things that you learn when you talk to Dad

Just a quick series of possibly-interconnected points from an early-morning conversation with my father.

My Dad opens the paper and says

"Do you like NASCAR? I don't see the appeal."

I say "No, seems like a boring way to spend our precious time."

Dad - "You know, the origin of race-cars in the US was guys trying to supe-up their cars in order to out-run the cops with bootleg booze."

Me - "Wow, I did not know that."

Dad - "Did you know that the term bootlegging came from smugglers who snuck booze around in hip flasks tied to their shins under high leather boots?"

Me - "I can't say that I did.."

Dad - "You know that smuggling alcohol has played a huge role in American History right from the start? George Washington had to deal with frontier-men from Western Pennsylvania in his administration as president. These people were upset with the first real federal tax - a whiskey tax - and were starting to get violent with the federal tax-man. Our first violent civil conflict was the Whiskey Rebellion."

Me (having just traveled to mount Vernon last week) - "Do you think George Washington ever seized the 'contraband' whiskey?"

Dad - "I don't know."

Me - "I only ask because I noticed at Mount Vernon a bit of information that may be applicable. One display pointed-out that George Washington would often enter a tavern and pay everyone's bar tab to gain political favor. I am wondering if Washington had a deal with the tavern-keepers to supply them barrels of whiskey if they made it appear as if he was being generous."

Dad - "I guess we'll never know ;)"

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