Gen. Daniel Tyler, one of those founders, petitioned lawmakers in Montgomery. “We do not ask for any exclusive privileges,” he wrote. What Anniston did request, however, was the ability to legally mandate ethics and principals to those who lived and worked here.
“All we want is the power to protect our property, to foster education, to keep out whiskey drinking, to sustain good morals and to introduce into our business a system of honesty and integrity,” the general wrote.
In other words, Anniston’s leaders have faced questions about alcohol sales since the city’s expectant beginnings. But times have changed; national Prohibition ended in 1933; and omnipresent “blue” laws that, among other things, forbade Sunday alcohol sales in the Bible Belt South are no longer ubiquitous — or necessary, for that matter.
Today’s version of Anniston would be wise to support allowing seven-day-a-week alcohol sales.
On Sunday, Star reporter Tim Lockette explained how state Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, is planning to file a bill that would give the City Council the choice of legalizing Sunday sales. Say what you will about either the politics or evangelical opposition to such a decision: Anniston’s business community — restaurants, bars and stores, for instance — would benefit from Sunday sales.
Anniston is, after all, a city in transition. City Hall is now shrouded in competence, not ineptitude. Business leaders are working overtime to recast the city’s degraded image as a place of growth in ecotourism and McClellan redevelopment. Moving the city more in line with the broader culture of today — where it’s OK for adults to drink on Sunday — would do as much for residents who support the move as it would the increasing number of visitors who come to our fair city for events such as the Woodstock 5K and the Noble Street Festival, not to mention to enjoy the recently opened Coldwater Mountain Bike Trail.
Understandably, opposition to Sunday sales may be strong from those who see this as a deterioration of a city’s morals, be they personal or religious. Our intent isn’t to make light of those concerns; instead, it’s to point out that residents of Alabama’s other cities with Sunday sales — Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa and Northport, for instance — merely have the choice of whether to buy drinks on Sunday afternoons and evenings, which doesn’t impede on Christians’ Sunday morning holy time of worship.
As restaurant owner Dave Mogil told The Star, the impact of Anniston’s alcohol-less Sundays is more complex than extra revenue from a seventh day of beer sales. “When people come here from out of town and hear that they can’t have a beer because it’s Sunday,” Mogil said, “they think this is the most backward place.”
It’s time for Anniston to distance itself from that perception.