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Chapter 76: Sworn-in

May 26, 1904
Jacksonville, Florida

Two days after the ceremony at Stetson, on May 26, seven of our eight-member, freshly graduated class went to Jacksonville to be admitted to the Florida Bar.

Source: The Volusia County Record, May 28, 1904, page three. Screenshot via microfilm by the author.

After we were sworn in at the Duval County Courthouse by Judge Locke, and were officially lawyers, we decided to have a regal celebration in our hotel. We pooled our money, and spent the late afternoon and evening with a grand feast in a private dining room, including wine, liquor, cigars, and many impromptu and elaborate (and somewhat loud and drunken) speeches. 

After several bottles of wine, out came the hard liquor. I admit I had at least a bottle of Scotch to myself, courtesy of — I don’t know — I think someone bought it for me.

On that night, I drank more than I ever had in my life, and without restraint. I don’t know if anyone else drank as much as I did; I didn’t care. I was simply relieved and wanted to celebrate my new freedom and status in the world. For the first time, I truly felt wonderful, and that euphoria from the alcohol made everything better. 

No one there to tell me to stop or slow down; besides, it was a celebration. I remember seeing several older barristers from the Jackson County Bar who happened to be at the same hotel as our group; the older lawyers looked in on us as we celebrated. We invited them in, but they declined; the old men telling us to enjoy ourselves, chuckling and nostalgic for their own celebrations decades earlier.

After a few hours of celebration, Nick Van Sant, the old married man and teetotaler of our class, left us. I must not have been in too bad shape, perhaps I was holding my liquor well. He shook my hand warmly, as he left for the Jacksonville depot, to catch a late night train headed north and ultimately to his home in Sterling, Illinois. He told me to stay in touch, which I agreed.

Nicholas Van Sant, 50-something, Class Prophet for the law class of 1904, and Emmett’s classmate. Image source: http://www.ancestry.com

The rest of use we went out in the city, a bit unstable, for further adventures. Along the way we met several young ladies who were happy to accompany us around Jacksonville, and show us the sights.

I had a very good time with a blonde woman whom I called Pearl. That wasn’t her name, but she was a good sport.  We all wound up in some nondescript two-story wooden house near the casinos, and I went upstairs, into a rather shabby looking bedroom with the young woman. She began kissing me, removing my suit jacket, loosening my tie.

As she eased me back onto the white iron bed — the springs squeaking loudly — she began unbuttoning my clothing, and touching me. 

I closed my eyes savoring the moment, the feeling of utter euphoria —

– and I don’t remember anything after that,

because I blacked out. 




Categories: Addiction Book In Emmett's Words

jsmith532

Professor
The University of Maryland Global Campus

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