Welcome to Florida Time, a weekly column about Florida history: from the Civil Rights Movement to the failed assassination of FDR, Civil Rights Act and the state’s lost businesses.

Readers: In our May 7 column, we discussed Prohibition (1920-1933) in Florida, enforcement of which pretty much was a joke. But the shifting of liquor from lawful suppliers to criminal smugglers wasn't funny. Sometimes it made life cheap. When a lot of money at stake, criminals had no qualms about killing people, even law enforcement.


Read More: Hypocrite’s Row: In Florida, Prohibition was more or less a suggestion


People who wanted their booze saw speakeasy managers, moonshiners, and rum-runners as rogue heroes. And the local, state and federal people sworn to enforce an unpopular law as the bad guys. That was a bad cocktail.


On Aug. 7, 1927, a third of the way from Bimini back to Florida, a cutter stopped a ship skippered by Horace Alderman. He and a mate were brought aboard and gunfire broke out. In seconds a Coast Guard skipper, a Secret Service agent and a machinist lay dead and another man was wounded. Others subdued Alderman.


Read more Florida history: Here are Florida’s top 25 stories of all time


In jail, the Gulf Stream Pirate became a cult hero. After he was convicted in federal court in Miami, Alderman claimed a Death Row conversion, but a plea for mercy was rejected all the way to the White House. Under an obscure maritime law that called for hanging pirates at the first port reached after arrest, Alderman was turned over to the Coast Guard base.


Before his hanging on Aug. 17, 1929, he wrote The Miami Herald, "The money I made neither did me nor my dear family any good. We thought it did, but no. You can see what it has done --- a death sentence by hanging --- and a broken-hearted family."


READER REWIND: Everyone has their own piece of Florida history. Share yours with us by leaving a voicemail at (850) 270-8418.



A Miami Herald police reporter tried to sneak into the closed execution but failed. He was Henry Reno, whose daughter Janet later would become U.S. attorney general.


Just months later, on the evening of Jan. 19, 1930, federal Prohibition agents Robert Moncure, Franklin R. Patterson and two other agents brought a search warrant to a home south of downtown West Palm Beach. Inside: alleged rum-runner George W. Moore.


Florida Time archives: Get caught up on the stories you’ve missed


Moore shotgunned both men. He later was found not guilty in Moncure's death. The Patterson charge was later dropped. Six months later, Moore was federally charged with assaulting a federal officer in connection with Patterson. He was convicted in federal court in 1934 and was sentenced to 10 years. He died in May 1958.


In 1995, we found Moncure's grandson in Boca Raton. In a box under his bed: letters his grandmother had written to her dead husband. Rather than being ghastly or mawkish, the missives were heart-wrenching.


"How can I go on living," Liza Moncure wrote, "with this terrible load of sorrow that does not grow any lighter?"


Next week: A1A


Last week: Murderers Ted Bundy and Danny Rolling


From a reader: I’m curious if you’ve written about River Ranch Acres and the Florida land scam that many northern families bought into in the 60’s. My parents did so and we even stayed overnight in the lodge and saw where the future swimming pool would be. We were so excited as kids to think we could someday have a home there. Of course that never materialized. Much like the author of the book, Redneck Riviera, we are dismayed and appalled at what that place has become. I think it’s disgusting. Now, what do we do with our 2.5 A in this horrible place? Thanks. - Terri F, Osprey, Fla


Eliot Kleinberg has been a staff writer for the past three decades at The Palm Beach Post in West Palm Beach, and is the author of 10 books about Florida (www.ekfla.com). Florida Time is a product of GateHouse Media and publishes online in their 22 Florida markets including Jacksonville, Fort Walton Beach, Daytona Beach, Lakeland, Sarasota and West Palm Beach. Submit your questions, comments or memories to FloridaTime@Gatehousemedia.com. Include your full name and hometown. Sorry; no personal replies.