Wednesday, January 13, 2016

How Dry is Dry?

The county is preparing for a special election to allow liquor sales within the county limits. It is a battle that has waged for over 80 years and the pain runs deep on both sides of the issue. This action may seem strange to those who view the citizens from places where such sales are common.
   I'm not sure when the use of alcoholic beverages became twisted with religious beliefs since according to all indications they've been used from the time of the cavemen down to the present day all over the world. The ancient Egyptians painted murals of wine making on the walls of their temples, hence we know exactly what process they used.
   When Charles II regained the English throne, he was desperate for money and used taxes and licenses for the production and sale of fermented spirits to raise those funds. As a result all home brewing and plant manufacture came under government jurisdiction. This act also spawned major smuggling operations as did the years of prohibition in the United States, which made lawbreakers out of normal everyday citizens who resent being told not to do something that has been a part of their family tradition for centuries.
   It is still true, the real issue is legal sales as the county has never been dry. Smugglers (bootleggers) always have networks into an area where legal sales are prohibited and work hard to maintain their source of revenue. A former manager of one of the golf courses told me they could almost pay the property taxes by picking up beer cans left on the greens and recycling them.
   I'm indebted to the late Syrilda Dunbar Wilson's Memories of My Days on the Cumberland (p26-28) for her essays on when liquor production was legal in the county. Many familiar respected family names population the pages. The above photograph was provided by the historical society. It is a copy of an early family brandy operation.
   "Mr. Robertson McKinley was a 'cooper' by trade. He made the barrels used to age the brandy." In modern terms this is called a "spin-off" industry. Mrs. Wilson pointed out a significant factor: the manufacture of alcoholic beverages provided both jobs and income for the county in terms of license fees and taxes on sales.

   We are both teetotalers and have no vested interest in the issue either way. We favor a Yes vote because we do not support any ideas where the many are held hostage by a few.
   Nash is allergic to anything fermented, which includes ginger ale and root beer. I do think that wine could not be more harmful to ones health than drinking the tap water which leaves a green growth in the Brita filter pitcher if allow to sit more than three days.

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