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Wet or Dry?

Everyone knows about Prohibition, which came into existence by constitutional amendment across the United States from 1920 until it was repealed by another constitutional amendment in 1933. But almost no one knows that there was legal prohibition of alcohol long before and long after. Or that prohibition continues today in many, many counties and states that remained dry long after national prohibition was repealed. You may be living in one of them today! If so, let me know how you obtain your favorite beverages.

When I was a young adult, we used to visit my grandparents in Mississippi. Their county was dry, and this was in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. We drove into the next county to buy a bottle of wine when we wanted something for cocktail time. It seemed so stupid to me then, but with the perspective of history, I can see that these people are the descendants of the conservative, religious Americans who voted for national Prohibition back in 1919. When Prohibition ended, they did not change their attitudes toward liquor. In fact, Mississippi, as well as Tennessee and Kansas, are still entirely dry by default, that is, unless a county or city specifically authorizes alcohol sales, they can’t happen.

I live in Virginia, where beer and wine are legal everywhere, but there are ten Virginia counties that still prohibit sales of distilled spirits. Have a look at this website and see what your state requirements are.

My novels are set in the Roaring Twenties during Prohibition. Although it was against the law to make, sell, or transport anything with alcohol—even beer or wine—it was a time of heavy alcohol consumption, because most people ignored the law. Next month the fourth in my Roaring Twenties series, Murder in Disguise, is released and I’m hosting a reception and reading on August 16 where we’ll serve sparkling cider, a nonalcoholic beverage like champagne, in honor of Prohibition. Come if you’re near Richmond! (Chop Suey Bookstore, 6:00, 2913 West Cary St.)

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