A Little Soused on the Prairie

Six decades after Prohibition failed, a Colorado town known for living it up considers going dry

Out on the county road, cattle trucks continue to rumble past--seven already this morning, notes Judy, a friend who helps out at the cafe. Though Trudy's can't serve liquor, Hayes has done what she can to get people to take an interest in the place. She recently made Rocky Mountain oysters a daily menu item, offering customers a chance to walk on the wild side by eating fried bull testicles.

But that may be about as much excitement as her fellow Groverites are willing to stand nowadays. Despite the doubts expressed by posse director Monty Lemley about the practicality of a booze ban--"Prohibition didn't work as far as I'm concerned," says the deputy--sentiment in the town seems to be running toward going dry. Even moderates such as Riegel, who moved out from Denver a few years back to start a new life as a small-town grocer, favor the ban. In part that's due to concerns about liquor being served in a town that has 35 children under the age of eighteen--and no local police force around to deal with rabble-rousers.

"I think it's for the best if we want to save our young," says Kidd. Adds a burly customer at the Market Basket, "God forbid some guy gets drunked up and rapes one of the girls. They'd never catch him."

Those sorts of attitudes would seem to make Tim and Kidd's proposal a slam-dunk, says Duggan. "I can almost sit here and tell you it's going to pass," adds the mayor, who seems resigned to the situation despite what he views as its troubling overtones.

Even if the measure passes, he'll still be able to serve beer at his annual "Slam-Fest." The sale of intoxicating beverages, not their consumption, would be prohibited. But to Duggan, that's beside the point. "Why should a group of people have the right to tell you what the hell you can do?" he demands. "As far as I'm concerned, we're still a part of America."

Whatever happens in the election, it won't take long to count the votes, says town clerk Mona Hayes. Only 64 people turned out for the last election in Grover, she notes, and that included people from out in the county who won't be eligible to vote this time around.

Mona, who mans the town hall on Tuesdays and Thursdays, is happy to show visitors the historic photos that hang on the wall, including a 1921 shot whose most prominent feature is the water tower that still looms over the town. But she has no interest in discussing the issue with which her in-laws are so closely identified--or in offering a prediction on the vote. Arching an eyebrow, the clerk says, "Who knows, with this town?

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