You Mean The Women’s Christian Temperance Union Is Still Around?
Honestly, we had no idea! You may have thought they went the way of the acoustic phonograph, steam locomotives, and the home coal furnace. Well, they actually have a web site. And they’ve set their sites on a new target: the menace of reefer madness!
The mansion that serves as Maine headquarters of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union lay largely fallow until recently, with drug needles, liquor bottles and pornographic magazines littering the grounds. Now, in the state where Prohibition had its roots and in a city that just legalized recreational marijuana, the WCTU is overhauling the building and looking to reinvent itself.
Leaders of the organization, which is committed to abstinence, plan to take a lower-key approach, compared with the old days when crusading women terrorized saloon owners. “We just want to bring a new passion here. It’s not that we want to be self-righteous and condemn you because you’re drinking or drugging or you’re smoking pot,” said the Rev. David Perkins, who is working with his wife to restore the WCTU’s Portland chapter. “It’s not that. We want to love you but tell you that there are ill effects.”
Last week marked both the 80th anniversary of the end of Prohibition and the legalization of marijuana in Portland, Maine’s largest city. …
“We find that a lot of people who are on hard drugs had started with marijuana,” said Janet Perkins. “That’s one of the reasons we don’t agree with the new law.”
At 55, Perkins presents a younger face for the group.
The group will continue to meet at the Dow house, but there will be more to it than bringing out Dow’s silver tea set. The group is recruiting new members and looking into social justice issues, including human trafficking.
Mae Billingslea, the oldest member of the Portland chapter, said the group needs to get noticed and to get its message out. She agrees with the change in tactics.
“In this day and age, I doubt very much that women praying in the saloons would accomplish much,” the 82-year-old said. “I guess my faith is too small.”
It’s also worth noting that many people on “hard drugs” started with… tobacco. Perhaps the WCTU is going after the wrong “gateway drug”?