During the mid-fifties the Times ran a Historical Photo Contest. They ran a photo in the paper and paid $10 to the person who wrote the best letter describing the photo.
Prohibition Recalled By Photo
America never had a period o history which even approximated that of national prohibition.
For nearly 15 years (January, 1919 until December, 1933) the U.S. had no legal right to drink whisky or any alcoholic beverage more potent than “near beer.”
Along the U.S.-Canadian and U.S. Mexico borders saloons and liquor stores and distilleries did business supplying thirsty Americans, while those who could not reach a foreign country made home brew and bathtub gin or bought rotten booze from bootleggers.
In this week’s Historical Picture Contest, The Times publishes a photo of one of the better-known El Paso area Mexican grog-shops.
April 4, 1956
According to my recollection, on or about July 1897, El Paso and Juarez suffered the worst flood on record. The water on the Texas side extended from the Juarez Bridges to Washington Park, as well as to the downtown district of Juarez, all of which was caused by the Rio Grande backing up from Cordova Island. The river at that time practically surrounded Cordova Island. Through the efforts of Mayor Magoffin, permission was given by the Mexican Government to open a channel straight through Cordova Island, thereby relieving both cities.
The Hole-In-the-Wall was on the south bank of the Rio Grande as it ran in 1897, about 300 ft. from the boundary line of the two Governments near the south end of Eucalyptus Street. During the years 1917, 1918 and 1919, prohibition was in effect on the American side, and there was a well-beaten path between the end of Eucalyptus Street, through the old river bed to the Hole-In-the Wall, then known as the Cantina Colonia Colorada.
April 4, 1956
An old adobe house made into a cantina was situated at the foot of Eucalyptus Street on Cordova Island. I remember I was driving cab for the old City Service Co. and we used to cut thru the old El Paso Foundry on Eucalyptus and the Canal to reach it.
Persons walked thru an old fence that divided the U.S. and Mexico, they were not bothered as long as they were American citizens as there were Custom & Border Patrol Officers and City Police there at all times.
On Saturday nights and all day Sunday when there was a big crowd of crossers the City Police would park the “Black Maria” near by and if you crossed “mucho borracho” they put you in it and when they got a full load they would take them to jail.
As this place was in Mexican Federal Territory after some protest from the American authorities the Mexican Government ordered it to close. People going to this place at night put themselves in danger on account of gun battles between Federal Officers and smugglers.
Alfonso Mendez Sr.