Ether drinking in Silesia
That might shed some light on it, as the people with whom I've been discussing this are Rusyn Lemkos - many of whom were shipped to Silesia in 1947 as a result of Akcja Wisla. These folks are descended from Lemkos who were able to return to their ancestral homeland in 1957 and live there still (well, some of them, anyway).
I found a couple interesting tidbits on the Web:
"The attraction with ether was that it allowed drinkers to get drunk much quicker than with whiskey and its effects wore off fairly rapidly, thereby allowing them to get drunk several times within the one day. It was also much cheaper than whiskey."
"The effects of ether were like those of alcohol, but the drinker passed through the stages of intoxication to insensibility much more quickly. He also sobered up after only a few minutes with no hangover. One problem with drinking ether was that it turns into a gas at body temperature. To get around this, the usual technique was to drink a glass of cold water followed by a shot of ether. The water cooled the mouth and throat sufficiently to get the ether into the stomach in liquid form. A frequent side effect was violent belching of flammable gas. Since houses were lit by naked flames, ether drinkers sometimes set themselves and others alight."