Dying for a Drink
Known to history as “The Fighting Parson,” Reverend J.O.L. Spracklin broke into a notorious Windsor roadhouse one chilly November night in 1920 and shot and killed barkeep Beverly “Babe” Trumble. He never served a day of time, easily being acquitted in his trial for self-defense. A provincial liquor license inspector already known for his brash tactics, Spracklin’s unabashed carnage solidified across North America the Detroit-Windsor borderlands’ reputation as the new Wild West—where whisky flowed freely, warrants were forged on the spot, and ministers toted guns to keep the peace. To the rest of Ontario, a dry province, Spracklin had been the saviour they had been waiting for, the answer to the lawlessness of the Border Cities—that is, until he shot a man at point blank range. In this exploration of the period, decorated Ontario historian Patrick Brode unpacks this infamous piece of Prohibition lore and asks: Why did Babe Trumble die? What led to a hotheaded reverend taking the law into his own hands, killing a man, and getting away with it? Full of fire-and-brimstone preachers, crooked politicians, wily rum runners, grandstanding lawyers, and innocents caught in the cross-fire, Why Babe Trumble Died is a fascinating read that will engross anyone curious about deeper stories behind this fabled time.