By Kali D.V. Oliver
The men at Kooskia were in a unique place among internment camps, not only because it was the only all-male camp, or even because the men were given wages and had agency enough to choose if they wanted to come into, or transfer out of, the camp, but because there were South American Japanese internees as well. The backstory to this statement more than deserves its own blog, so I will save it for another day, but the gist of their situation went a little something like this. During WWII, U.S. representatives were concerned about the safe return of captured American soldiers. However, they faced a bit of a quagmire. There were no soldier-prisoners to trade. After all, those displaced into internment camps could not be “traded” for soldiers. In many cases, the second generation internees were actually naturalized citizens, and who could say that one type of American was worth more than another. So, to avoid yet another political nightmare amidst war, a deal was made within areas of South America that were already experiencing high racial tensions and outbursts of violence towards those of Japanese heritage. The political tensions for Japanese in South America as well ran so deep that after the end of the war when internment camps were dispersed within the United States, South America Japanese internees were refused the right to re-enter the country for nearly 10 years.
To get back on track, why is this important to the beer at Kooskia? Well, since there were South American Japanese internees at Kooskia, a copy of the Geneva Convention was posted within the camp. This allowed internees, even from the first few months of the camp’s opening, to petition for everything from better health care standards to, yep you guessed it, the right to imbibe (Kooskia Internment Camp Archives 1943-1990s).
However, this is not the only link to the right to consume. Some ten years earlier, at the closing of the year 1933, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was repealed, and prohibition was no longer (Wilma, 2001). From then on and still today, it is every person’s right, if they are of legal age, to consume alcohol leisurely. So, in June of 1943, it was granted that the men of Kooskia could run their own canteen, and when that happened, they could also dispense beer (Kooskia Internment Camp Archives, 1943). So, not only did the men at Kooskia have basic humanitarian rights, they would, have the same right that so many other Americans so shortly before had fought to win, to drink.
Finally, it is time for the “archaeology lesson” portion of the blog. Pictured here are two bottle fragments that represent part of the leisure time consumption of alcoholic beverages. Notice that even though they may look like plain amber glass bottles, the neck and body portions of these pieces vary. One style is called a “Stubbie” and the other a “Steinie,” and both are machine-made bottles produced during the 19th century (Lindsey, 2013). Unfortunately for the glass industry, beer cans became popular in a big way around the end of prohibition. Unfortunately for the can industry, WWII broke out and the popularity of cans was no match for the demand of metal during a shortage of resources, especially when glass could be re-used if necessary. No fear, there is a happy ending; both cans and bottles, including the Stubbie and Steinie style, survive to this day.
The bottle on the right of the picture above is a Stubbie. Provided here, as well, is a picture from the SHA website exhibiting what the entire bottle looks like. The Stubbie was created, approximately, in 1935 and has three major characteristics: virtually no neck, in many cases a raised horizontal shoulder line (poss. fill line), and a well-rounded heel (making it smaller at the base than the body). Usually the most common size of Stubbie had a carrying capacity of 11 oz., though it was made in quart size, for example the SchlitzTM Ruby Red beer. The Stubbie style hit its peak of popularity for two to three decades following the 1940s, and can still be found in use today in varying countries, for example Red Stripe Beer ® (Lindsey, 2013).
The bottle on the left of the picture above is a Steinie, again a picture from SHA.org/bottle provides a full-object comparison. Can you see the differences now? This barrel bodied fellow has: a moderate neck with a “step-up,” or bulge, and a pretty sharp heel. Though both styles have crown-cap finishes, it would seem that the bulb under the lip portion on the Steinie style is more round, perhaps to match the neck bulge, where the Stubbier style seems droopier; however, I cannot be sure if this is a rule that can be counted upon for identifying style or just one exception. The Steinie style beer bottle had a carrying capacity of approximately 11-12 oz in its most common size, though it also came in a quart version, and was most popular from its creation in 1936 to the 1950s. Apparently, the unique neck on the Steinie, and likely the name of the style, was designed as an advertising technique to remind consumers of the taller version of export beers at the time (Lindsey, 2013), which makes sense.
I hope this has been as fun to read as it has been to research. Please feel free to contact us about any of the research or findings produced on this blog at scamp.uidaho.edu. For information on other beers at the site, please scroll down to see Kelsi Lee’s post “Alcohol Consumption at the Kooskia Internment Camp.”
Kooskia Internment Camp Archives
1943 Government Public Records, complied by Dr. Priscilla Wegars, pertaining to WWII internment. Kooskia Internment Camp Archaeological Project, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID.
2013 Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes. Historic Glass Bottle Identification & Information Website, Society for Historical Archaeology. <http://www.sha.org/bottle/beer.htm>. Accessed 1 June 2013.
2001 Prohibition ends of December 5, 1933. History Link, Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History. < http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&File_Id=3343>. Accessed 1 June 2013.
 It is posited in the SHA article I am referencing that the “horizontal line” is possibly a fill line, as a person who brews at home, I have to agree with their consensus. There are different tools for this now, but when bottling home brews the addition of the corn sugar to the beer, over a period of time, is what creates carbonation, leading to head. If you do not leave enough room in the bottle, it could explode, if you leave too much, well it turns out flatter than anticipated.