Do you have any information about the end of prohibition in Cecil County?

— Kevin Hardy

Back in 1933, Cecil County was in the grips of the Great Depression, but in those uncertain times, there was one bright spot. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt decided it was time to end prohibition. That April, beer sales became legal for the first time in 13 years. In December, prohibition completely passed away as the 21st Amendment the Constitution was ratified and all types of alcohol sales became legal again. Of course, Marylanders had to consider whether to repeal “dry laws” by ratifying the amendment in August 1933. Cecil County aligned itself with a majority of the state by electing delegates who pledged to end national prohibition by voting for the amendment. Dorchester County was the only county to fall in the prohibition ranks, the Cecil Whig reported. When the Cecil County Election Board tallied the results here, the wet ticket carried Cecil with 1,895 votes, while prohibitionists received 1,484 votes. The county has nine election districts and the place most ready to drink was Chesapeake City, where the wets had the largest majority, 75 percent. Four districts — Rising Sun, Calvert, Fair Hill and Conowingo — preferred the selection of dry delegates to the convention, but the majority were ready to end the experiment. The Cecil County Commissioners were also the Liquor Control Board, and when their clerk opened the office for business the day after being handed this responsibility, officials had their hands full. Business owners were anxious to pick up where they left off, and within days, 49 people appeared before the liquor board. Thomas Riale’s pool room and Martin Keplinger’s Rising Sun Hotel opened to serve thirsty customers. Along the heavily traveled Route 1, the Blue and White Lunch Room, the Lafayette Inn and Dicks Place joined in too. Others outlets were scattered around the county.

— Mike Dixon

Do you have a question about Cecil County that the Historical Society of Cecil County’s panel of experts might be able to answer? Send them to history@cecilwhig.com.

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