methow grist 2011-2014 archive

Lying for Liquor

Our county had “gone dry.” That is to say, that the sale of liquor was prohibited outside the limits of incorporated towns, which still retained the right to judge for themselves on this important subject. To attain to that dignity and freedom it is necessary to show a population of six hundred souls and T____ (Twisp), the metropolis of our sixty miles of Valley had, so far, fallen short of furnishing the required number, even when all the land for two miles around was included in the count. However, it was the only place that seemed to offer a possible defence against cold-water tyranny, and we resolved to try for incorporation. The sympathy of the county authorities we had, in plenty, for what it might be worth, so we took stock.

The first count left us “shy” by something like two hundred, and we scratched our heads. We had no slightest objection to inventing names, but if, in the biliousness of defeat, some evil-eyed reformer should get it into his head to examine the paper---no, that was a risk. We did not want our Charter revoked.

“There’s quite a few inhabitants comes to school every day,” suggested one of the committee. “And if they ain’t old enough to vote now, they soon will be. They got names, just the same, though, and that’s all we want right now.”

We began by taking those who were in their teens, but we ended by taking all—the last few petitioners, indeed, were hardly born, and one was only expected—but at that we were still fifty or sixty names short.

“Oh thunder!” said one, in desperation. “Throw in the cayuses—there must be sixty cayuses in town, and if there ain’t I’ll swear there’s sixty hens, anyway. Nobody’s goin’ to ask any fool questions—if they do, we’ll ride them out of town on a rail!”

We took his advice. The emergency was our excuse and we were in no great pains to keep silence about it. Our petition was blandly and instantly granted; the only hint we received of the authorities’ amusement at our methods being the return of the document, as though by accident. We had the liveryman elected Mayor, and a properly sworn Council in office, within forty-eight hours.

When the “wet and dry” election came round we “went wet” by something over four hundred and fifty, and we had the intense satisfaction of reading what the “drys” thought of us, in heavily marked journals which somebody with plenty of time on his hands addressed to each of us individually.


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