One must also consider the technology of the day, and the important role alcohol played in daily life.
* No refrigeration - cooking with wine/beer helped cover up the smell of meat that while still’good’ was beginning to smell and taste ‘ripe’.
* Mixing a little wine in the water, killed both parasites as well as other bugs that could cause disease. Bear in mind, a city may get water from the river; but just a few miles upstream cattle crossed the river - adding contamination to the town’s drinking water.
* Dressing a wound with bandages soaked in beer/wine had an anticeptic effect.
* Washing clothes and bedding with alcohol to kill lice and fleas
* A little ‘buzz’ helps you sleep through the night, ignoring misquitoe, flea and bed-bug bites
* Wine/beer store very well, where water goes stagnant quickly.
They would take out four small saucers and put a live worm in each one as the kids crowded around. Each saucer was filled with a different beverage, plain water, milk, a fruit or vegetable juice and whiskey. The worms in the other three saucers would swim around while the one in the whiskey saucer would shrivel and die.
The lady would then ask the kids what the demonstration proved. In nearly every case, they would respond it would show whiskey was bad for you.
When the WCTU came to my Dad's class, however, a little boy in the back raised his hand and answered "Drink plenty of whiskey and you'll never have to worry about having worms."