April 16, 1908


So Declares Colonel Hunt of the Leav-
enworth Home -- Disreputable
Dives Now Get the
Old Men's Money.

Old soldiers are alarmed over talk in Washington of another anti-canteen rider going on the appropriation bill for the homes. The last time an appropriation was made for the homes Congressman Bowersock of Kansas, since retired, managed to tack onto the bill a provision that no liquor be sold on the grounds of homes. In this condition the bill went through, affecting every home in the United States. Immediately there was a protest, but the provision was carried and the canteens were abolished. Then the blind tigers flourished and they are still flourishing. There is no law against canteens at soldiers' and sailors' homes. The only prohibition was caused by the Bowersock amendment. The amendment died with the appropriation bill, so that as it now stands, liquors may be sold on the home grounds, always under the management of the national home officials.

"And we want no more Bowersock amendments if the good of the homes is to be considered," said Colonel R. H. Hunt, quartermaster of the Leavenworth home yesterday. "We never sold anything but weak beer. The Bowersock amendment closed the beer canteen, and that compelled the veteran to go outside for his drink. He went where he could get whisky, and to the capacity of his purse, so that drunkenness increased amazingly and the evil effects by comparison were shocking. It takes nothing of a savant to realize that a man can be kept better by limiting him to beer when watching his own offices than by turning him loose in the 'Klondike,' as they call the contraband places near our home in Leavenworth, to be filled with 'forty rod' and permitted to get as drunk as his money will permit."

Colonel Hunt said that there were no figures to show the effects of the home canteen, where beer only was sold, and the non-superintended dives where the veterans drink are beyond control.

"In the absence of figures you must take the word of of the officers of the home. At the Leavenworth home every officer has but to favor the restoration of the canteen, one of those most anxious to get the canteen back being the Catholic clergymen at the post. He sees the effect more directly than any of us by reason of the individual attention he gives so many of the inmates. It is a hard matter to teach old dogs new tricks. No one congressman and no one congress can change the habits of a man of 60 years. The veteran who for ten or forty years has been accustomed to his glass of beer once in a while cannot be changed from it now without locking him up or taking all his money away from him.

"At the national homes we served nothing to the veterans but 4 per cent beer. We not only limited him to that, but we sold him none before breakfast, none after supper and none during meal hours. The veteran was always within his own grounds, surrounded by his friends and those responsible for his good conduct, and so was always entirely in hand. As it is now, under the operation of the Bowersock amendment, he is out of bounds, where we do not see him till the divekeeper has got his good money out of him and his bad whiskey into him, and the veteran suffers from both causes its consequence."