Betty Ago: The Bottle

History has become more and more fascinating to me, especially now that 100 years does not seem to be a lot of time anymore. We have a teacher that comes here from a local college. His enthusiasm is so great and his presentation so artful, that I would go to any class he teaches regardless of subject. A recent series was on “Unintended Consequences.” An excellent candidate for this subject was the 18th amendment to the U.S. Constitution otherwise known as “Prohibition” (1919-1933). I won’t burden you with the long discussion of how this led to the rise of organized crime — a lesson still not learned. However, I do have a small personal connection to that historical era.

Approximately 3-4 decades ago while on a business trip, my husband visited his cousin (actually his father’s cousin), who had moved west as a young man. During this visit, cousin showed husband a never-opened-bottle of rye whiskey that husband’s uncle (much loved father’s brother the pharmacist) had given him as a gift way back during prohibition. One of the few legal sources of alcohol during that time were the neighborhood pharmacies where “tonic” was sold for medicinal purposes and uncle owned one of those pharmacies.

Now go forward about 10 years when number one child moved west. She reluctantly contacted cousin during her search for an affordable apartment. She found her home on her own, but became very fond of cousin and his son. We all attended cousin’s 100th birthday party together. Eventually daughter became one of a cadre of caregivers who provided meals (lots of ice cream) and companionship to cousin. Cousin died at the age of 104 with his mind still clear. Daughter was offered any keepsakes she desired. One of them was “The Bottle,” which she gave to her father. Therefore, we still have this bottle — more of a reminder of a marvelous relative than of the prohibition that spawned it. It is still unopened, but not quite as full. Almost 100 years on the shelf has allowed for a bit of evaporation. The label clearly states “For Medicinal Purposes Only.” I guess we don’t need it yet.

Betty Ago


Betty is a real person who resides in one of our Brookdale entry fee communities. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Brookdale Senior Living.

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