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County Towns Long Alternated On Allowing Local Liquor Sale

Two Historic Years When Montague Went Dry-
1910 Year in Which Several Returned to License-
Sentiment Divided Today

That Franklin county was as divided in its "wet" and "dry" opinions in pre-prohibition days as in those since is revealed in a study of returns from elections in March 1910 and 1916.

Following the 1910 elections, the Recorder reported that one of six towns in Franklin county which were licensed in 1909 turned to "no"- Shelburne,- the "no" margin being 24 compared with 26 "yes" majority the preceding year.

To the "yes" towns flocked Greenfield, Montague, Orange, Whately, Conway, making a net grain of five towns for license.

Montague was conceded to license from the outset, but it was expected that Deerfield, from disfavor with the extensive business of the year, would be redeemed. The old town came no nearer to redemption than the cutting down of the "yes" majority of 47 to one of 29. Orange swung to license with a majority of 77.

The "yes" majority in Colrain was increased from four to 21. Bernardston said "no" by a margin of only seven votes. Buckland increased her "no" majority to 78. The other towns nearly all keep about the same margins on the "no" side.

In 1916 Montague voted "no" on the license question for the first time in seven years. Only a margin of 21 votes separated the drys and the wets, the former polling 475 votes against the 454 for the latter.

The previous time Montague went dry was in 1909 when the vote was 552 "no" to 463 "yes". That was a year when "no" license wave struck the county quite generally Greenfield was one of the towns to go dry. Only five went wet. They were Deerfield, Shelburne, Wendell, Erving and Colrain.

Since repeal the towns which have changed from wet to dry in less than 18 months are Charlemont, Gill, Hawley, Rowe and Shutesbury. Of these five Gill has been dry before to the extent of being opposed to beer and wine in 1933, while at the same time favoring repeal; and Shutesbury, though in favor of repeal in June of 1933, was divided in opinion at the same time on the question of malt beverages.

Of all the county towns, Bernardston is the only one which was definitely dry in 1933 and which has changed this year to definitely wet. Three towns chose to compromise. One of them was Warwick, which was for both repeal and malt beverages in 1933, but tightened up this year to the extent of favoring only beer and wine.

Buckland and Shelburne got together and agreed that conditions ought to be the same on each side of the Deerfield river. Buckland, definitely wet last year, has now decided that beer and wine are sufficiently strong drinks. Shelburne, on the other hand, has voted dry just as regularly as Buckland had voted wet, until this year when it conceded the point that if folks can get along on beer and wine they may as well do their drinking in Shelburne Falls as to cross the river into Buckland.

For the most part other county towns have been consistently on one side or the other; the larger places generally wet and some, though by no means all, of the smaller places generally wet. Conway, Deerfield, Erving, Greenfield, Monroe, Montague, Orange, Wendell and Whately haven't moved out of the wet column for years. Conway, Deerfield, Erving, Greenfield, Montague, and Wendell, in fact, voted for near beer away back in 1924 and according to the records, have voted for the strongest liquor available on every possible occasion since that time. Monroe has never been dry since 1924.

Ashfield, Colrain, Heath, Leverett, Leyden, New Salem and Northfield have been consistently dry. Sunderland voted against beer and wine and against repeal in 1933, favored malt beverages last spring, but went back into the dry column this fall.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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"Prohibition," the national ban on alcohol production and sale, ended with the repeal of the eighteenth amendment to the United States Constitution. As this article in the Greenfield Daily Recorder Gazette shows, the repeal of prohibition did not end conflicts over the sale of alcohol. In fact, national repeal returned the debate to the local level, where it had been an important part of political life in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. This article discusses in some detail conflicts between "drys" (anti-alcohol) and "wets" (anti restrictions on alcohol) in various towns in Franklin County. Towns with larger, more urbanized populations tended to support alcohol sale. Smaller rural communities tended to oppose it. Ethnic and religious divisions fueled heated debates over alcohol consumption and sale.

 

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"County Towns Long Alternated On Allowing Local Liquor Sale" article from the Daily Recorder-Gazette newspaper

publisher   Greenfield Daily Recorder-Gazette
date   Dec 8, 1934
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
width   3.5"
height   10.5"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L08.050


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