Retro Raid: 18 Arrested at Smokey Joe’s

Most Fridays we scan various sites looking for Eyeball Benders from the Past. Today’s search uncovered an interesting newspaper clip from the University of Pennsylvania’s Digital Image Collection.

In January of 1950 18 people were arrested in a Vice Squad raid of Smokey Joe’s. What happened next was a Penn tradition, a “rowbottom.” A rowbottom was anything from a high-spirited crockery smash to a full fledged riot. On this night, 500 students descended on the area and 12 additional squad cars were dispatched to clear a path for the raiding force and the arrested to leave. Then the students followed the arrested and police to City Hall where they demanded the release of the “student prisoners.”

Unfortunately the story doesn’t go into how the 18 violated the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Act. For that we’ll have to wonder.

Rowbottom [Penn Archives]
Pub raid jars Penn campus [University Archives Digital Image Collection]