This is the ninth and final article in a series on Prohibition in Park City.
Many Parkites and visitors past and present have had a wild, alcohol-filled night out on the town. Those who lived here in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s have many crazy stories to tell. Sundance parties have been the stuff of legend. But most have not had a night quite like Dr. R.V.B., Bert H., and “Curley” Neil did on May 29, 1923.
The three friends – a doctor, a miner or mining man, and a sporting man – got together at one of the in-name-only soft drink parlors to obtain some “hard booze,” according to the Park Record. Apparently, the doctor and Curley engaged in a battle of wit and insult in which the doctor crossed the line, leading Curley to knock him out cold – “so cold in fact that friends thought the doctor was dead.” They rushed the doctor to the Miner’s Hospital, where he was brought back to consciousness through “vigorous treatment.”
Afterward, Curley half carried the stumbling doctor to their room at the New Park Hotel on Main Street where they continued the party, drinking and smoking themselves to sleep. Another guest down the hall smelled smoke soon after and alerted the hotel staff. Upon entering, “investigation showed the Doctor’s room filled with suffocating smoke, the mattress burned through, and blankets ablaze,” along with the three friends passed out drunk but otherwise unharmed.
Hostess Marie O’Keefe woke the men up and “did some lively tongue lashing” toward the group. She ordered them out of the hotel and “never again to darken its doors on the penalty of being perforated with leaden pellets.” Luckily, the fire was contained to the bedroom and only $100 in damage done.
Aside from being punched into an unconscious state, taken to the hospital, and nearly burned alive, the doctor also lost his gold watch and a wad of cash over the course of the night. The Park Record sarcastically noted that it was “a small price for the ‘fun’ he had and the ‘pleasure’ he gave to others.”
The newspaper ended their recounting of the “drunken mess” by lamenting Prohibition’s lack of success once again, pointing out “no complaints, subsequently no arrests, and ‘prohibition’ still reigns in Park City.”
Prohibition “reigned,” or stumbled along, rather, for another ten years until it was repealed on December 5, 1933. That night, plenty of Parkites likely reveled once more, but none had a night quite like the doctor that required a full tale to be printed in the newspaper.
The Museum is hosting historic walking tours of Main Street every day at 2 p.m. Reserve a spot by calling the Museum at 435-649-7457. Saturday, July 15 is also a Free Day at the Museum.
“A Drunken Mess.” Park Record, June 1, 1923.