"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


the unthinkable

The unthinkable happened this weekend: the city of my birth, Lubbock County, Texas voted to go wet. By a nearly 2-1 margin. With more than 40,000 people showing up to vote early.

Those of you not from God's Country cannot possibly understand the significance of this vote. Lubbock is one of the most conservative cities in America. Its preachers and community leaders did all they could for the last 82 years to keep most liquor sales restricted to a classy place known as the Strip. As Texas Monthly reporter Katy Vine notes, George W. Bush lost his 1978 Congressional race in part because he had a keg party in the district. Lubbock going wet is so bizarre it's almost impossible to contemplate

That sound you just heard? It's the city's former leaders rolling in their graves. My great-grandfather, who decades ago was pastor of the largest Church of Christ west of the Mississippi, probably wouldn't believe it, but you'd better believe he would've preached against it. (I'm not so sure what his wife would've thought - or how she would've voted. The first thing my grandma did upon learning of her mother's death was book it to Lubbock in order to get the bourbon out of the pantry before the good ladies of the Church of Christ got to the house.)

I have a feeling that the legalization of package liquor sales in Lubbock won't change the culture that much, although it will certainly shut down the Strip. As a TABC official told KCBD television, state law prohibits alcohol sales within 1,000 feet of schools and daycares and within 300 feet of churches. There aren't many commercially-zoned places in Lubbock that meet those criteria.

Still, if I were in Lubbock, I'd be keeping an eye out for four horsemen and flying pigs. Next thing you know, they'll let the Dixie Chicks back into town.

UPDATE: Daddy informs me that my great-grandmother actually kept the bourbon hidden in her closet. She used it in her boiled custard recipe, but he can't figure out how she got it. Neither of us can see her trekking out to The Strip, that's for sure!


Blogger Michael said...

As a current Lubbockite, I'm not that surprised it passed. I am, however, surprised at the margin. I expected the vote to be much much closer.

I am with you on the idea that Lubbock won't change that much. As a baptist, I'm sure my fellow out of touch baptists will now have something to complain about. Oh well.

Monday, May 11, 2009 6:58:00 AM

Blogger Charlie Mac said...

One of the funnest juries I ever had the pleasure (civic duty) to serve on was over a supposed breach of contract regarding a lease to build/operate a package store on the strip just outside Lubbock. In fact it ended in a hung jury because one juror held out that no matter if there was not enough room for parking a "contract was a contract". The stipulation stating "pending county approval of a building permit" was moot to her.
How far we have come. Now we have a president, who she probably voted for, who wants the power to void contracts with no clause regarding economic downturns which buyers have made with mortgage and credit card companies.
No wonder Lubbock voted to go "wet"!

Monday, May 11, 2009 7:44:00 AM

Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Some side comments which may, or may not, be pertinent. First: personal perspective. I have never been a teetotaler. I was raised in a fairly conservative Methodist home--but our family dissented from the old Methodist prohibition tradition. I became a Baptist while stationed in Heidelberg--and European Baptists never had a prohibitionist tradition. The pastor and his wife used to take me to a local pub for conversation on theology and related topics after evening worship. [Note: We always began in German because I found it very difficult to practice my German after my 3rd glass of any good Bavarian lager. The pastor and wife, however, had no trouble switching to English and they drank more. :-)]
Only on returning to the U.S. and joining a SOUTHERN Baptist congregation did I learn that, since the 19th C., most U.S. Baptists have been teetotalers. I have used my liberty of conscience to continue to disagree--even in seminary.

O.K., now for the odd notes. You mention bourbon. Did you know that Bourbon County, KY (about 2 hours southeast of here) is DRY! Yep, the county where America's finest contribution to world whiskey was invented and is made, is DRY. You cannot legally purchase or consume the Bourbon County's most famous product within County limits. This law is widely broken, but every attempt at repeal is soundly defeated.

Irony #2: The inventor of bourbon was a Baptist preacher named Elijah Craig.

Irony #3: Craig grew wealthy because of his invention and used that money to underwrite the formation of Georgetown College, a Baptist college in Georgetown, KY. (Not to be confused with Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., which is a Catholic school.) Georgetown, both the college and the township, are also dry--despite the continued endowment money from Elijah Craig's fortune.

Question: Now that Lubbock is wet, will Mac Davis move back? I always assumed that the reason he wanted (in the words of his song) Lubbock, Texas in my rearview mirror was because he couldn't drink there. I also assumed that was why another Lubbock son, Buddy Holly, left. But maybe not. After all, I do NOT assume that to be why a certain globetrotting Baptist political scientist with an African focus moved. :-) But how will this affect homecomings?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 1:12:00 PM

Blogger euphrony said...

I grew up in Abilene, which went wet in the late 70's. Till that point, there was a small town called Impact that started about 10 feet (literally) from the north city limit of Abilene, and conveniently in the next county (which was wet). The town consisted of one very busy liquor store.

Funny note: there is a state law here in Texas that prohibits a community from incorporating within 10 miles (maybe 15?) of an existing incorporated city. It was Abilene legislators that got this passed, in response to Impact. It is the current reason that The Woodlands cannot incorporate, and is basically waiting for Houston to annex them at some future time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 1:42:00 PM


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