For many, the word Prohibition conjures up scenes of gang wars in New York, New Jersey and Chicago along with some of the decade’s most infamous characters, Bugs Moran, Meyer Lansky and Al Capone. Yet few realize the prominent role South Florida, and its Caribbean neighbors played in the transportation of illegal booze into the U.S. during this infamous era. Depicting the prohibition era experience from Palm Beach to Key West is the engaging documentary, “Prohibition and the South Florida Connection.”
Filling the demand for the illegal hooch were a host of bootleggers and rum runners transcending both gender and racial lines. Suave and sophisticated men, like Bill McCoy and Cracker Johnson, who along with their savvy female contemporaries, Gertrude Lythgoe and Marie Waite, all relied on their wits and bravado to amass sometimes fleeting fortunes that were often fraught with risks and danger.Pirates, illicit still makers, an unmotivated local police force, along with an undermanned but determined Coast Guard, all added to an intoxicating South Florida cocktail of peril, profits and corruption.
Al Capone, local speakeasies, and the hanging of Horace Alderman, a rum runner convicted of murdering Coast Guard officials, are also included, as are the poignant and humorous personal recollections of those directly connected to one of America’s most notorious periods.
Filmed in an intimate style with telling photographs, obscure footage, vivid recreations, and a lively soundtrack, “Prohibition and the South Florida Connection,” reveals yet another fascinating and intriguing chapter in our region’s colorful past.