Welcome to Georgetown

A small industrial port town 100 miles from New York. It’s a busy town, a town where fortunes are made, and lives are worn threadbare with labour. Each morning, Ford automobiles hum through the streets. Flat-capped Stevedores troop to work. Women file into the factories. Fishermen return from their night runs. The business, the opportunities of this town, and this country, it what draws immigrants from around the world. Italians, Irish, Swedes, and Spanish; Mexicans, Argentinians, Chinese, Japanese, Phillipinos and Puerta Ricans; people from the freshly defeated Ottoman Empire; people from newly liberated nations such as Saudi Arabia and Bulgaria; peoples from across the world flock to George Town and places like it in search of work.

But this isn’t just a place of industry. It’s a place of revelry. Each night, at the hall, shows are brought on tour from broadway. On the stage, concert bands are learning rhythm and blues, and on the dance floor, revellers are learning the Charleston.

But not all are welcome at these sites of party. Racial prejudice runs deep in George Town. ‘Negroes’, as they are vehemently called, live apart, denied the franchise and their civil rights, exploited even more than the other grafters and workers of George Town are. Immigrants are denied their rights. The vulnerable, the hard-working and the poor turn to politicians and precinct captains for hand-outs and favours. The voices of reverends and radicals ring out into the night, preaching virtue and calling for political action.

It’s 1924, five years since the 18th Amendment prohibited the sale* of alcohol across these United States, and four years since the Volstead Act created the Bureau of Prohibition to enforce it. The truth is, the 18th didn’t create a new age of temperance. It created a new age of crime.

It’s an open secret that the Murphy Corporation runs Georgetown. The old elite families are in decline, and their grand old estates have been auctioned and sold. Old Man Murphy has people in the Mayor’s Office, the Council, the Police Department and the docks, and rumour has it, owns every bottle of liquor brewed in town. Never did a meaner man preside over a merrier town. A speak-easy lies behind every door. Rhythm and blues can be heard from every stage. No soda is dry. No gramophone lies idle.

But the peace in Georgetown is about to be disturbed. Some upstart has opened a secret brewery, and their cheap produce is flooding the market. Murphy is recruitng heavies. Word has it that the Bureau of Prohibition has rumbled that the cops are bent, and that its agents are coming to town.

*Though not the consumption of it.