Hometown of prohibition crusader approves Sunday liquor

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 02, 2011 8:38 PM

By Kevin Murphy

KANSAS CITY, Mo (Reuters) - A Kansas town made famous more than a century ago by anti-liquor crusader Carry A. Nation voted to allow alcoholic drinks to be purchased any day of the week.

Residents of Medicine Lodge voted 157-142 on Tuesday to allow package liquor stores to sell on Sundays except Easter. The town's vote was certified on Friday, and Sunday sales start December 11.

Opponents had forced the issue onto the ballot after the city council passed a Sunday liquor ordinance, Mayor Robert Stutler said.

Stutler insisted that the town's history did not affect the election. Nation moved to Medicine Lodge in 1890, formed a branch of the Women's Christian Temperance Union and began smashing bars to show her disgust with drinking.

Her campaign received new attention in a PBS series on Prohibition aired recently, which described how Nation used stones, bricks and later hatchets to damage taverns that violated a Kansas law against liquor. She became one of the nation's most famous prohibitionists and is featured in a Medicine Lodge museum.

Opinions differ on how Nation would have reacted to the vote in Medicine lodge.

"Carry Nation would not be very darn happy, I can tell you that," said Debbie Wesley, the county clerk in Barber County, which includes Medicine Lodge. Wesley said she is not a drinker.

But Stutler said even Nation would see little sense in a Sunday liquor sale ban that hurt the local economy and tourism. Medicine Lodge is a town of about 2,000 people in the Gyp Hills region of south central Kansas.

"Carry probably would have seen the light by now," Stutler said.

(Editing by Greg McCune)