It was a plaintive plea in The Oklahoman on Sept. 2, 1908, that caught my eye:
“Prohibition has not stopped drunkenness up to this date and if we must have drunkenness, let’s try to confine it to the men and let the fishes at least die sober.”
Whit M. Grant, Oklahoma City’s first mayor under the commission form of government, was complaining about illegal, confiscated beer being dumped in the streets and allowed to flow down the sewers and into the river.
“Intoxicated inhabitants of the North Canadian kept citizens of Spencer busy, following the Moss beer spilling according to Mr. Grant, who returned from there yesterday. Rendered helpless by the brew in the river, hundreds of fish were taken without difficulty. One catfish captured weighed 90 pounds, according to Mr. Grant, who says:
“About the middle of last week another prohibition slump was made into the sewers from the Moss brewery; and following it up , on Friday, from about 10 o’clock in the morning until about 2 in the afternoon the river, for at least three miles this side of Spencer and on below as far as heard from, was full of drunken fish, they may have appeared in other places—I have not heard. They would swim around, some on their sides and some with their backs partly out of the water, butting against logs and other obstructions in the river and into the banks, some helpless and heedless of the approach of human beings, while others probably not quite so drunk made some effort to get out of the way when approached. Their behavior was infact not much different from a bunch of drunken men.”
“The people in and about Spencer took advantage of the situation and captured great numbers of fish and after keeping them in fresh water for a time revived them and they got as active as they ever had been, and were eaten. They had no bad flavor or unusual taste–in fact they were good to eat, at all events many ate them and no bad effects have been reported.”
However, the article goes on to report that many fish were found dead along the river and it was attributed to the beer in the water. Mr. Grant went on to say:
“I am positive that there is over a ton of dead fish in the river between this city and Spencer. Such destruction of food fishes is an outrage on the people entitled to them and a disgrace to the parties responsible for it.”
He expressed hope that such a thing would not happen again.
I did not find any more mention of “spilling” beer in Oklahoma City, but in 1909 I came across an article where the confiscated liquor was being sold to Kansas, so the city found a way to profit from the beer.