Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I would like to thank Verena Voll Linthicum for her response to my suggestion that the safe, law-abiding and responsible use of alcohol be permitted in the J. Charles Linthicum Park - just as it is so permitted in family homes, back yards, community festivals, and even at special "all American" places where families gather such as Camden yards. (Maryland Gazette, Oct. 8)
One such place should be highlighted here here: Fort McHenry. For the past 20 years I have been present at most Flag Day and Defender's Day celebrations at the home of the Star-Spangled Banner, Fort McHenry.
It was a place near and dear to "Uncle Charlie's" heart and never in that patriotic crowd of families have I ever seen public drunkenness, disorderly conduct or littering. Believe me, many alcoholic beverages are raised to salute the flag and the brave defenders of the fort.
Responsible consumption of alcohol is permitted at Fort
McHenry on the wonderful lawn every day, as it is in most federal parks, and I have never visited such a clean and peaceful place where law and order cleanliness, and decency prevail.
We have come a long way toward tolerance of many practices, life-ways and personal preferences since the days of prohibition. In my opinion we need to extend that tolerance to the strictly law-abiding, and moderate drinker.
I want to thank you again Verena for joining the discussion and for your efforts and those of the tireless committee workers and our local politicians for supporting this wonderful park and monument.
Every citizen should work as hard to help to keep our parks beautiful-this is not a job for the county government alone!
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
While Conrad Bladey certainly has a right to his opinion, how sad it would be if his desire to allow liquor to be legally consumed in the J. Charles Linthicum Memorial Park were to be granted (Maryland Gazette, Oct. 1).
A beautiful memorial and a lovely park, which was suggested and came to fruition through the efforts of Ted Sophocles, would be desecrated. I don't believe Mr. Bladey can deny that the legality of liquor being allowed in the park would bring debris and probably unwelcome behavior in a family oriented park.
Two members of the community, Ken and Carol Glendening, along with many other members of the community have spent hours cleaning and beautifying Benton Avenue Park. This work is done on a purely volunteer basis. What an insult it would be to imply that here is another park for them to clean.
The fact that J. Charles Linthicum was not in favor of Prohibition is not synonymous with his being in favor of the public use and abuse of alcohol. I have faith that Frank Marzuco, county director of recreation and parks, will use his wisdom to keep this park free of alcoholic beverages. To allow liquor to be legally consumed in this park would be a travesty.
I would also like to address the fact that Ella Virginia Houck Holloway encouraged the congressman to submit the bill on the National Anthem. She certainly did and whenever the "Star Spangled Banner" was mentioned in the family, Mrs. Holloway was always credited with having been the one who encouraged "Uncle Charlie" to submit this bill
Again, I respect Mr. Bladey's right to his opinion. I just ask that he not try to impose that opinion on the rest of us.
VERENA VOLL LINTHICUM
I would like to thank Verena Voll Linthicum ("Letters to the Editor", 10/8/08) for her heartfelt response to my suggestion that the safe, law-abiding and responsible use of alcohol be permitted in the J. Charles Linthicum park' just as it is so permitted in family homes, back yards, community festivals, and even at special "all American" places where families gather such as Camden yards (and most Baseball and football stadiums that I have visited) and one that should stand out here: Fort McHenry. For the past twenty years I have been present at just about every Flag Day and Defender's Day celebration at the Home of the Star Spangled Banner, Fort McHenry, a place near and dear to "Uncle Charlie's" heart and never in that patriotic crowd of families have I ever seen public drunkenness, disorderly conduct or littering. Believe me; many alcoholic beverages are raised to salute the flag and the brave defenders of the Fort. Alcohol is also permitted in the park on the wonderful lawn every day, as it is in most federal parks, and I have never visited such a clean and peaceful place where law and order and decency prevail.
J. Charles Linthicum was in his own words a "temperance man," yet he opposed prohibition. "Charlie," throughout his long and honorable career in both the State Senate and in the U.S. House of Representatives, was the servant of the people. He opposed the bosses Mr. Linthicum always favored the Democratic process. Whether it be in his battle against the party bosses:
What we are against is the system, because the Democratic party needs no bosses(Governor Brown in this instance). It is a party of the people, for the people and by the people, and if controlled by a boss system it is neither of the people, for the people or by the people. It would then be a party whose very life is centralized in the hands of a boss and that boss, more the representative of the corporate interests than of the people."-5/5/07
or in standing up for the Democratic process when it came to the repeal of Prohibition when he favored the convention process rather than the state assembly process:
I would suggest an addition to that resolution, and the addition would be that this resolution of Mr. Sabath's (repealing prohibition) should be submitted to the convention, because it is a question which invades the individual rights of the citizens and not the State's rights as is expressed by the legislature. -Hearings Before the Committee on the Judiciary House of Representatives, Seventy First Congress Second Session H.J. Res. 11,38,99,114,219,and 246.,Serial 5, February 12,13,19,20,26,27, March 4,1930, Part 1, United States Government Printing office, Washington , 1930. p. 397
J. Charles Linthicum was adamant throughout his career that Prohibition would never triumph against the will of the people and culture as a whole. As the Rev. J. A. Homan wrote in 1910:
As against these extremists it has been the aim of the writer to discuss the problem from its chief points of view with every effort of impartiality, and vindicate the standing of the strictly moderate drinker ethically and physiologically without disturbing the higher claims of the voluntary abstainer. At the same time he has endeavored to show that the license system is sufficiently efficacious in the restriction and regulation of the liquor traffic. -Prohibition: The Enemy of Temperance, Homan, J. A,
As is evident all around us in our parks and at our ball fields and community festivals, Homan's point is still valid. In our pluralistic society we can include a wide range of life choices. We have come a long way toward greater tolerance since the days of prohibition. In my opinion we need to extend that tolerance to "the strictly moderate drinker".
To return to "Uncle Charlie" and his love of the Flag,
I want to thank you Verena for joining the discussion and for the efforts of yourself, the tireless committee workers and our local politicians for supporting this wonderful park and monument. Every citizen should work as hard to help to keep our parks clean and beautiful- this is not a job for the county government alone! There are many views always, concerning all of our freedoms. The freedom to consume alcoholic beverages legally, safely and decently is just one of them. I believe all voices need to be heard and I would never impose any other opinion upon the community other than the opinion that "Uncle Charlie" would have insisted upon- the will of the community at large. It is my opinion as it was his that local communities should decided by the vote. As an anthropologist I fully understand that local communities and cultural groups have the right to their beliefs and values. If the community at large in Linthicum wishes to return to Prohibition or maintain the vestige of Prohibition which lingers in our park rules so be it. I look forward however, to the democratic process and the process of modification of the park rules which I shall engage in with the County.
One last note- ever since visiting the beautiful park and monument I have been inspired to research the life and works of J. Charles Linthicum. I shall soon publish an academic biography and have created a web page so that the public can follow the research.
I invite input and reader responses. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(for those interested in the work of J.A. Homan you can find his entire tract Prohibition:the Enemy of Temperance on line here: http://www.archive.org/details/prohibitionenemy00homarich)
Historian, Anthropologist, Folklorist,Artist.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
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Dedicated in last month, the granite pedestal and bronze plaque honor the community of Linthicum's most famous son for authoring legislation that made "The Star-Spangled Banner" the national anthem.
Mr. Bladey, however, wants his neighbors and others to look deeper. He wants the county Department of Recreation and Parks to grant an exception to its ban on alcohol in parks to honor the man who lead the way toward ending the nation's experiment with mandatory teetotaling.
"I award the most important achievement to his involvement in repealing Prohibition," said Mr. Bladey, a historian, folklorist and artist known around the community for his colorful "art cars."
"He was a libertarian and for individuals' rights. I wonder what he would think about people not being able to drink in the park that is dedicated to him."
The organizers of the monument have a good guess.
"I'm sure he would turn over in his grave if we had drinking at the park," said Ken Glendenning, president of the Linthicum-Shipley Improvement Association.
"I'm sure he would be offended."
County officials know about Mr. Bladey's idea, but are dubious about the possibility of granting his request.
"We only have two venues out of 140 parks and sanctuaries where I as the director allow exclusive use (of alcohol) and these have been grandfathered in," said Frank Marzuco, county director of recreation and parks.
The Linthicum monument was dedicated Sept. 13 and stands as a commemoration to the congressman's legislation making the "Star-Spangled Banner" the National Anthem in 1931. The plaque atop the chest-high pedestal includes the words and music to the anthem and a small American flag.
In 1932, Linthicum joined with Pennsylvania Rep. James M. Beck to submitted a bill repealing the 18th Constitutional Amendment and its ban on alcohol sales. He argued the law, passed in 1919, was a criminal justice disaster and a national health threat.
"I have enough faith in the American people to know that they will not continue this experiment which has been so destructive to so many of our people, so drastic in its enforcement and so destructive to the life, liberty and morality of our country," he wrote in a 1932 op-ed piece for the New York Times.
The bill was reported out of committee on March 15, and even though it failed on the floor Linthicum was credited with cracking the ice on repeal.
Later that year, Prohibition and the Great Depression were the keys to New York Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt's victory in a landslide presidential election. Prohibition was repealed in March 1933, six months after the congressman died.
Mr. Glendenning said Linthicum opposed Prohibition on grounds of individual rights, but would object to people drinking in a park dedicated to him,
Robert Linthicum, the congressman's great nephew, said during dedication ceremonies - attended U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin and Rep. John Sarbanes - said the congressman was a teetotaler.
"I really think it is ridiculous of him (Mr. Bladey) to want to do that," said Mr. Glendenning, who worked on the monument with local historian Mark Schatz. "I think that's a bad plan to allow that in the park."
Mr. Schatz, director of the Historical and Genealogical Research center at the Kuethe Library, said focusing the monument on the National Anthem is appropriate. He called it Linthicum's most significant contribution to American life.
"There were several songs that caught the fancy of the public and most of those, as I understand them, were conscious productions," Mr. Schatz said.
"The 'Banner' was a reaction to a significant historical event and for that reason it should be our national anthem."
But Mr. Bladey also questions whether the real credit for making the song commemorating the bombardment of Fort McHenry should go to Ella Virginia Houck Holloway, chairman of the Committee on the Correct Use of the Flag of the United States Daughters of the War of 1812. She convinced Linthicum to propose the legislation, he said.
Mr. Bladey, who like the late congressman doesn't drink, said he hopes to get a permanent exception or an exception for a parade he is planning in March to honor the committee vote. But he'll go on with the parade regardless.
"Even though the parade has to be dry, and the park has to be dry, there's nothing that says the reception has to be dry," he said.
Mr. Bladey says he admires the park, the monument and the work that went into it. But he argues the omission of the Prohibition effort is significant.
"As a historian it kind of irks me," Mr. Bladey said. "It reflects upon our times. You shake your head and say, 'Why? Why? Why?' "