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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Saturday, January 30, 2010

First in the nation

In 1815 the world's first Total Abstinence Society was founded in Portland. In 1851 Maine became the first state to ban the sale of alcohol entirely, except for "medicinal, mechanical or manufacturing purposes." Prohibition didn't end in Maine until repeal of the national laws in 1934.

Or did it? Last year the legislature addressed the important issue of taste testings, probably at the behest of beer and booze lobbyists who wanted the same freedom accorded wine shops. So, yes, the solons did indeed extend tastings but the helicopter parents among them, in an apparent reflexive return to Maine's glorious past, added to the application form governing such proceedings the stipulation that tastings "must be conducted in a manner that precludes the possibility of observation by children." Said law went into effect September 12.

Maine is now first in the nation in wine blog jokes. Shop owners offering tastings drape their windows to prevent spontaneous addiction in two-year-olds (mere blinds are not acceptable). Obscure back rooms are utilized. Skulking occurs. Bafflement reigns. Probably out of sheer embarrassment, tempering legislation has now been filed in the new January session.

The original legislator said that he was only trying to prevent kids from seeing drunken adults in supermarket aisles. His name is Webster, clearly of Puritan descent, probably from Massachusetts, where of course all interdictions started. Long live Cotton Mather!

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