Prelude to History on a Sober Labor Day

By Foley, Bill | The Florida Times Union, September 4, 1999 | Go to article overview

Prelude to History on a Sober Labor Day


Foley, Bill, The Florida Times Union


Not every day did Pablo Beach raise Ned and make history.

That was going to happen Labor Day 1922, and darned if it wasn't going to happen sober!

The Law called a press conference to announce just that.

Labor Day 1922 at Pablo Beach and its environs would be auspicious, abstemious and tee-totally amusing, and men with guns would see to it.

Eyes of America were going to be on Pablo, and that went for Uncle Sam, too, said the colonel in charge. Likewise, said Duval County Sheriff R.E. Merritt.

Merritt and A.R. Stroup, colonel of the federal Prohibition force in Florida, called a press conference to swear and affirm Pablo would be dry come Labor Day and call upon all decent folk to join them in that endeavor.

"Some of the bootleggers already have made the boast that they are going to make a killing on Labor Day," Merritt said.

"We want the help of the citizens in ridding the resort of that class of people."

Decent, law-abiding citizens deserved to enjoy themselves on the holiday, said Stroup.

They needn't be annoyed by "a lot of rum-sellers, drunks and roughnecks."

Stroup and the sheriff called on "all the good, law-abiding citizens of Pablo" to meet with them at 10 a.m. Labor Day at Pablo's Ocean View Hotel to "pledge their support and cooperation" in flushing riff-raff from the holiday shore.

That would be about two hours before the Pablo strand was knee-deep in laboring folk engaged in organized and unorganized recreation, runningboard to running-board in flivvers and covered like a crazy quilt with picnic baskets.

Pablo was the scene of organized labor's official to-do that year, with good eats and ball-playing and all 'round sports, such as obstacle races and tugs-of-war and the ever-popular greased pole climb.

On Shad's pier the ladies of labor were opening a week's carnival of wholesome activity, such as a country store and fortune-telling and raffles and bake sales and other diversions.

Transportation to the shore for union men who needed a ride was being offered by a car pool shuttling revelers from the Labor Temple on Riverside Avenue. …

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