Remember when it was illegal to drink alcohol in the United States? The speakeasies, mobsters and robust black market?
Of course you don’t, unless you’re a centenarian. Ordering our favorite cocktails is easy. And speakeasies — well, they’re memorialized in certain bars capitalizing on the novelty for curious millennials. But as we approach the 100th anniversary in January of the short-lived Prohibition era, places like the Clark County Historical Museum are gearing up for a new display of period items, many of which were used locally.
James Kice, 35, manager of collections and operations, recently started selecting alcohol and Prohibition era-related items from the museum’s collection, which is stored in the basement of the museum as well as at an off-site location. Called “History A-Brewin,’ ” it opens in January in the museum’s North Gallery.
Kice’s job is to very, very carefully sift through these items, clean them (but not too much), and prepare them for display. It sounds easy — handling old stuff — but there’s more to it. He graduated from Washington State University Vancouver with a bachelor’s degree in history, but also took courses through the Oregon Museum Association on object handling and conservation, he said.
Kice’s office is in the museum’s basement. Items of significance sat on a long table. Behind the table was a wall full of tools and cleaning instruments.