Today’s AJC Deja News comes to you from the Tuesday, May 16, 1935, edition of The Atlanta Constitution.
REPEAL GIVEN 2-1 MAJORITY IN FULTON COUNTY
Even before the 18th Amendment kicked off national prohibition in 1920, Georgians were plenty thirsty.
The Peach State’s law banning “the manufacture, sale, barter, or giving away of alcoholic beverages in Georgia,” later amended to include the use or possession of alcohol, had been on the books since 1907.
That Georgia beat the feds to the (non-spiked) punch in forbidding alcohol sales isn’t surprising. Until 2011, Georgia was one of only three states in the nation with a total ban on Sunday alcohol sales.
Some cities have played scofflaw since Prohibition days, with Savannah leading the conga line. AJC Food and Dining Editor Ligaya Figueras notes that “Savannahians or ‘wets’ in other parts of Chatham County pushed to secede from Georgia and form their own State of Chatham” because the state’s ban on alcohol so infuriated them.
Never one to pass up a chance to party, the Hostess City of the South is all for visitors gadding about with plastic cups, soaking up the Historic District’s ambience.
Several metro Atlanta cities have also started allowing restaurant patrons to carry alcoholic beverages with them in specially-designated public areas. Smyrna, Powder Springs, Kennesaw and Acworth are among the Cobb cities that have recently enacted such ordinances. Marietta was set to join the open container party, with City Council voting in favor of allowing carry-out drinking in the town square -- until Mayor Steve Tumlin’s veto effectively turned out the lights.
“Tumlin said he vetoed the measure because he felt Marietta Square is known for its family-friendly vibe and allowing open containers could ‘have the potential’ to threaten that atmosphere,” the AJC’s Kristal Dixon wrote in a May 9 story.
The open container measure passed 5-1-1 prior to the mayor’s veto. A vote aimed at overriding the veto failed 4-2-1.
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Alcohol consumption has been a hot debate topic for Georgia lawmakers at the state, county and local levels since the 19th century.
National prohibition was repealed in 1933, but alcohol remained illegal in Georgia until 1935 when voters okayed repeal of the state’s “bone dry law.” In metro Atlanta, the pro-alcohol “wets” handily defeated “dry” temperance advocates by wide margins.
“[A] three-way referendum was for repeal, legalization of wine and beer and all three were comfortably ahead in DeKalb as well as assured of the support of Fulton,” a May 16 Constitution post-election story said.
Fulton voters sent a particularly strong pro-alcohol message to state and local officials.
“[The county] voted more than two-to-one to repeal Georgia’s 27-year old state bone dry law...”
And voters living in the city of Atlanta overwhelmingly supported legalizing alcohol.
“Every one of Atlanta’s 13 wards voted for repeal, beer and wine,” the Constitution reported.
Dry as it is for now, Marietta Square was the scene of an all-out celebration in April 1935. Parched Cobb Countians swarmed the place, eager to buy legal liquor.
The caption on an AJC archival photo taken in the Square reads: “A store on the Courthouse Square was all ready for its gala opening at 10 a.m. but there wasn't a bottle on the shelves. Half an hour later 100 cases arrived by truck from a Columbus state warehouse.”
Today, in Marietta, some say the mayor's veto is all wet.
Resident Cindy Price told the AJC she didn’t think the family-friendly atmosphere on the square would be threatened, adding “I’m OK with it as long as the constraints are there.”
Whether Marietta eventually joins the trend of allowing alcohol in designated outdoor areas remains to be seen, but Mayor Tumlin doesn’t sound worried about keeping Marietta Square as-is.
“The world is not going to stop one way or another,” Tumlin said the day after the vote. “The square was hopping this morning.”
-- The AJC’s Kristal Dixon contributed to this story.
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