The Art of Rumrunning & Other Stories

During Prohibition rumors circulated that the escape artist Harry Houdini had been hired by the US Treasury to dive for a hidden cache of booze at Princeton bay. In the mid-1920s the indie Peninsula Studios, located in Burlingame, made a film at Princeton called “Let Women Alone,” starring Wallace Beery. Printed on fragile nitrate film, the “Let Women Alone” is assumed lost, but if found might provide scenes of early Princeton.

In the “Continental Op,” a collection of pieces by Dashiell Hammet, the author includes a story about Half Moon Bay called “The Girl with the Silver Eyes.” A young woman is missing and she’s tracked down to Half Moon Bay, to a place called the “White Shack” run by “Tin Star Joplin.” The “White Shack” is a prohibition-era roadhouse and the place where booze is picked up and distributed to San Francisco.

“The dope is that,” writes Hammet, “half the booze put ashore by the Pacific rum fleet is put ashore at Half Moon Bay.”