I remember being a little girl living in a small house on a dirt road in Cleveland. In the winter I would watch my father get up before dawn every Sunday morning and drive to the church. He would put wood in the stove to make sure it was warm for everyone during morning services. I remember him as being the kindest, most caring man I knew. He raised us right. That included respect for others and love for God. I was also raised in a home where we had no alcohol. My parents never passed judgment on anyone who drank; it was just a personal choice for them not to drink. We never avoided places or people just because of their association with alcohol. My daddy saw it as a choice. He made his and went on with his day.
When it came time for me to raise my children, I no longer lived on a dirt road. The times were different and so was the world. I had experienced so much in life and was making my own with my family. As an adult I had, and still do not have, any opposition to, responsible drinking. I never told my children alcohol was bad or that it was even something to be avoided. I raised them to respect it. To know its effects and the troubles that could come with it if abused. Both of my children attended college and now are successful, law-abiding members of society. Neither have ever had an issue with alcohol.
“So what are you getting at?” you ask. Well, my point is, parents make the difference. What you teach your children makes the difference. How you lead by example makes the difference. The decision to abuse, or even to try, alcohol is not made in the gas station or supermarket where your kids may see a six-pack. It’s made at the dinner table. It’s made in your living room where you take the time to talk with your kids. I’ve never said, “Thank goodness for prohibition in Blount County. I can’t imagine where my kids would be without it.”
I am proud of my family and what they have become and what they represent. What will our county become? Are we waiting for magic to arrive and provide us with money, jobs and businesses? It’s not going to happen. There will never be an option where everyone is happy. There never is. Legal alcohol sales is the option before us now. Will it cure all that ails us? No. Nothing will. Can it give us a chance for something different? Can it give us something that will thrust life into a county I have seen dwindle over my 69 years on this earth? I think so and I think it’s time.
Vernell Phillips Mother, grandmother