December 5, 1933, saw the ratification of the Twenty First Amendment, and an end to national alcohol prohibition. As you might expect, this was quite a blow to the pietistic organizations which had led the charge in the first place. However, that didn’t mean the battle over sobriety was at an end. In fact, the repeal of the Volstead Act merely left the decision in the hands of the States.
Round two saw the temperance movement fighting an uphill battle against well-funded and organized opposition. Public opinion had clearly shifted, and brewers and distillers wanted to keep it that way. Though there were numerous campaigns which inundated papers across the country, none were more prolific than that of the United States Brewers Foundation (formerly the Brewing Industry Foundation).
From Where I Sit (by Joe Marsh) was a series of advertisements clearly designed to look like a syndicated column. The series ran for well over a decade, including the entire duration of World War II, and was primarily found in smaller papers, clearly targeting small-town America. As you can see, Mr. Marsh’s appearance changed dramatically at one point, possibly owing to the fact that his initial visage appeared to be that of a clown. Regardless, the particular brand of folksy, down-home wisdom remained consistent.
The “articles” frequently revolved around themes of patriotism, tolerance and a “live and let live” attitude. In some instances, beer wasn’t even explicitly discussed, merely alluded to. Usually it was mentioned in fairly innocuous terms, and the phrase “…a mellow glass of wholesome beer, the beverage of moderation…” made frequent appearances.
In a similar vein, the Conference of Alcoholic Beverage Industries, Inc. developed their own mascot, that of The Old Judge. This series tended to focus on reminding people of the increased crime caused by bootleggers and gangsters during prohibition. During the war, it would frequently extol the importance of alcohol production for the war effort. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t argued that whisky was a beverage of moderation.
…while those advocating for the amendment were meager and infrequent. The amendment was soundly thrashed, being defeated 73.46% to 26.54%. Coloradans had spoken, and they had overwhelmingly decided that they enjoyed spending the evenings with good friends, and a refreshing glass of beer or two.
And from where I sit, that’s just as it should be.