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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Obstreperous Meets Abstemious - Gary Lehmann

Obstreperous meets Abstemious - Gary Lehmann

When the Potter brothers, both Quakers, built an inn near a fresh water spring in 1750,

they called it the Clearwater Inn not only to signify the clear well water

but to ward off those who would seek hard liquor.

It didn’t work.

Their only customers were farmers and drovers.

The drovers were an especially hard lot.

They came fresh from the cattle markets

with a few coins to spend and a powerful thirst for rum.

It came down to a nasty face off

which could easily have ended in bloodshed and fire.

The Quakers could not bring themselves to serve hard liquor,

and the drovers could not bring themselves to go to bed sober.

Finally, a compromise was reached.

A keg of rum appeared by the fireplace with a sign that read,

“Drink what ye will. Pay what ye may.”

Gary Lehmann teaches writing and poetry at the Rochester Institute ofTechnology. His essays, poetry and short stories are widely published -- about 60 pieces a year. He is the director of the Athenaeum Poetry group which recently published its second chapbook, Poetic Visions. He is also author of a book of poetry entitled Public Lives and Private Secrets [Foothills Press, 2005], and co-author and editor of a book of poetry entitled The Span I Will Cross. His poem "Reporting from Fallujah" was nominated for the 2006 Pushcart Prize. His short play, "My Health Care Worker Stole My Jewelry" was selected for professional production in January 2006 at Geva Theatre, Rochester, NY. Visit his website at

“Positively no beer sold to Indians.” (Birney, Montana, 1941) – Marion Post Walcott is from the Library Of Congress