Rupert Howell Column

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 4, 2009

Rupert Howell

Why change law that’s never been enforced anyway?

Where’s the outrage?

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While Batesvillians argue over Sunday beer sales, the municipalities of Pope, Como and many rural convenience stores reap benefits of sales tax and additional income from those beer sales.

Those two municipalities, along with the marina at Sardis Lake that falls under jurisdiction of the City of Sardis, take advantage of those who want to buy beer on Sunday.

Meanwhile, with or without legal sales, one can always buy beer on Sunday–always could, always will.

Although the municipalities can attempt to control what happens within their boundaries, Panola County is different dog.

Through at least four administrations of Panola County sheriffs dating back to the 1960s, beer has easily been available on Sunday. Before it was legalized it was even more available for those underage and at all times of day or night.

Those of us growing up in the ‘50s and ‘60s around this area may remember names like Big Willie, Clarence, Dow, Black Susie, W.C. and others.

Once beer was legalized, youngsters had to show IDs and stores quit selling at 10 p.m. Youngsters didn’t quit drinking, but they did get more resourceful in acquiring it.

Although county law enforcement will occasionally “bust” stores who blatantly break the Sunday beer law, there is always another willing to sell.

Why were there no beer distributors speaking at Tuesday’s meeting help to help the cause?

I don’t know, but I would think many of their customers are happy the way things are.

Two men from Illinois moved to Batesville in the early 1980s and I became friends with them. They enjoyed a cold brew on a regular basis and had not been raised with “blue laws” as we of Southern persuasion had.

At first confused, and after a couple of weekends with no Sunday beer, they learned the “ropes” and began a game of seeing just how many of Panola’s country stores would sell them beer on Sunday.

When David Bryan was giving Forrest Tuttle a run for his money in a sheriff’s election during the 1970s, the Tuttle camp put out that if Bryan was elected there would be no more Sunday beer sales. The next Sunday was used to set an example and some of the county stores that would normally sell Sunday beer “tightened up” for that one day.

The late Earl Brown who had a store on Highway 6 west was not one to miss a dollar, so he sold the beer anyway, but only after going to the highway with his binoculars and looking both ways to ensure there were no deputies close by.

At Woodard’s Store in the Blackjack area, Mr. W. C. wouldn’t sell any beer that Sunday either.

 But, he told customers of two guys sitting on a tractor a few roads over who might know where to find cold beer. My buddies found those guys on that tractor and they produced the coldest cans of beer my  friends had ever consumed, I was told.

Which brings me back to my point–If we’re so concerned about Sunday beer sales within the city, where is our concern for beer being sold in the county on Sunday for decades.

After these years of observation it is apparent that there is no need to change a law that isn’t enforced in the first place.

We take on the attitude that if there are no complaints, there are no problems. No problems, no need for enforcement.

Those who are so adamantly opposed to Sunday beer sales may want to use the point made by a better man than me–What is tolerated today is accepted tomorrow.

We in the Panola County have been tolerating Sunday beer sales for a long, long time.