I used to like to get bombed in The Ship because the beer was cheap and the regulars were friendly. A couple of times, the bartender told me that The Ship had been the first bar in Kansas City to get a liquor license after Prohibition ended in December 1933. But veteran radio personality Walt Bodine, who was around when the 18th Amendment was repealed (but was way too young to drink any hooch), insists that the original Peanut at 5000 Main holds that honor.
It's true that The Peanut possesses the oldest continuously held liquor license in Kansas City. But several saloons got their permits at the same time as the venue at 50th Street and Main, which was then called the Louis Stone Restaurant.
And according to the city directories of that era, there was no way The Ship could have snagged one of those first licenses. The plot of land at 411 East 10th Street was still listed as vacant when Kansas City belatedly welcomed legal liquor back into the city. I say belatedly because, in typical Missouri fashion, the state had failed to enact its own liquor-control laws in time for the repeal of the 18th Amendment, and Kansas Citians couldn't officially celebrate the end of Prohibition until January 13, 1934. (Thanks to Tom Pendergast and the mob, dozens of speakeasies all over town had been serving banned booze for a decade.)
By 1935, Kansas City was awash in watering holes. The Ship still hadn't sailed into view, but the greatest concentration of drinking joints in the post-speakeasy decade wasn't downtown. No, long before Westport became a magnet for the partying crowd, there was a lively stretch of Troost, between 25th and 46th streets, packed with places such as the New Harlem Nightclub and a nightspot called Petroleum Inn, which I'm sure only sounds like a double-entendre.