Phooey and the Secret Room

by Arnold Nelson

     One day Phooey and his friend Peter were playing in the abandoned house that they used as a clubhouse. Peter leaned against the wall. All of a sudden, part of the wall opened up. He jumped back and said WOW!, what was that. They both jumped up and looked at the hole they were surprised to find secret passage behind the wall. It was a very dark passage so Phooey set let's go get our flashlights and check it out. So both boys ran home to get their flashlights. When they got back they found the wall had close again. So they started feeling the wall trying to open it again. Finally Phooey found the right place.

     This time when the wall open. They found a 2 x 4 and stuck it in the opening, and so would not close again. They both went in and turned on their flashlights started checking out the passage. The passage ran about 20 feet, then another passage went off to the left. They followed the second passage. It was about 40 feet, then off to the left was a staircase going down. They went down the staircase at the bottom was a room about 20' x 20' and it was full of boxes. They looked in a couple of boxes, but could not figure out what was in them, so Phooey said, I'm going to bring my father over here. He'll know what this is. So they went to get Phooey's father.

    When they got to Phooey's house. His father was just coming home from work. Phooey ran up all excited and said Dad, Dad, we found a secret room. Phooey's father said slow down son, let's get in the house , and you can tell me all about it.

     When they got in the house Phooey's father got himself a cup of coffee and sat down in his easy chair, then he turned to Phooey and said, okay, now tell me about this room you found. So Phooey started we were playing in the clubhouse. Peter leaned against the wall and part of the wall opened up. First there was short passage. Then there was a longer passage. Then there was a staircase down to a room full of boxes, but we could not figure out what was in the boxes we were hoping you would come back with us and tell us what is in those in the boxes. Phooey's father said Okay, give me 30 min. to relax and enjoy my coffee. Then we'll go check this out.

     So 30 min. later they all got in Phooey's father's car and went over to the clubhouse. When the three walked in. The boys showed Phooey's father where the opening in the wall was. They all turned on their flashlights and went in. When they went down the stairway, Phooey's father saw all the boxes the boys had told him about. He opened one box and pulled out the gallon sized bottle of liquid. He opened a few more, and did the same thing.

     He turned to the boys and said I can't believe what I'm seeing, but this looks like a hiding place. They were used during the prohibition almost 90 years ago. Phooey said what was the prohibition? Phooey's father said let's go back to our house and I will tell you about it. Tomorrow. I'm going to do some checking on this house I will let you know when I find out

     When they got back to Phooey's house. The boys sat on the floor, Phooey's father sat in his chair and began talking. In 1919 an amendment to our constitution was passed. It outlawed the brewing, sale and transportation of alcohol, things like beer and wine. This gave a wide open field for the organized crimes. There were people like Al Capone who were just waiting for the chance to make lots of money. They started smuggling, beer and wine, and anything else they could get into this country from Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, and even from England and France. They were called rum runners because a lot of what they will smuggling in was actually rum from the Bahamas.

     Then there was another group of people who were making moonshine. They already had stills way out of the country, away from everybody and were making their moonshine, sometimes it is also called White lightning. Now moonshine is a drink that is at least 50% alcohol, sometimes as much as 90%, is very potent. There are other elements that get stuck in it and like antifreeze. or lead or even Mercury. People didn't care. They just like the kick they got from.

    There were people called bootleggers who took the moonshine from the stills brought it to the towns. When the legal company's had to quit the making alcoholic drinks the moonshiners suddenly got a lot more people looking for their moonshine. The stepped up their production and hired more bootleggers to get their moonshine to town. The bootleggers had a competition among themselves who had the fastest cars and they began racing each other.

    After the amendment was appealed in 1933, the Bootleggers organized themselves and had races to see who had the best cars. Then promoters started promoting some of these races. Some of these promoters were bad people, they would run off with the money before the drivers were even paid. This really upset the drivers.

    Finally, in 1948, a man named Bill France Sr. , also called Big Bill decided to organize the drivers and the promoters and mechanics. He started a group called NASCAR, which stands for National Association of Stock Car Automobile Racers. It started in Florida and 55 years later, it is a multimillion dollar company that runs races all over the United States and even puts on races in other countries. It is still run by the France family. Big Bill's grandson, Brian, run the operation now.

     I think that stuff you found was a hidden stash of booze. That someone left there during the Prohibition days. I am going to call the fire department and have them come over, and look at it, and see what they think. They will know how to get rid of it. I'm afraid it is pretty dangerous now.

    Phooey's Dad picked up the phone and called the fire department and told him what he suspected, they said they would be at the house in an hour and asked Phooey's father to meet them there and show them where the stuff was, so he agreed. One hour later he was at the house with the firemen and he took them downstairs where the stuff was.

    After the fire department looked around. They said yes, Phooey's father was right. It appeared to be stuff that was smuggled in during the Prohibition. They asked Phooey's's father if he knew anything about the house, who owned it, and how long it had been vacant. Phooey's father said he knew nothing, but he would check the computers in the morning and let the fire department know what he found.

    The next morning, the fire department was there with all their protective gear, and they carted out all the boxes and disposed of them. Phooey and Peter were watching. After everything was removed the firemen told Phooey and Pete that they were going to have to secure the house and no one would be allowed in there anymore, but because Phooey and Peter did such a good job reporting what they found, the firemen would give them 15 minutes so they could have one more look around before it was closed up forever, and in a couple days. It will probably be torn down.

    So Phooey and Peter when in and had one more look around. They went down in the basement one more time and they were shining their lights around. When Phooey saw something in the corner . He went over to pick it up it looked like an old map. When they left the house for the last time they showed the firemen the paper and asked if they could keep the paper. The firemen said it was fine. They could have it. Phooey and Peter went back to Phooey's and tried to study the paper. It looked like some kind of map. But the writing was light and was hard to read, so they went to the printer and tried copying a couple times with different settings to see if they could make it easier to read.

    When Phooey's father got home he told the boys when he found out about the house. The house was built about 100 years ago and was abandoned about 30 or 40 years ago, no one has any idea who owns it. So, the city will just take over the property. After the building is demolished, they will probably sell the property and whoever buys it will probably build another house on it.

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