Town to keep “Alcohol Mary Road” despite defamation claim

The sign for Alcohol Mary Road in Greenwood is a source of frustration  for the Hertell family, whom some people believe are the descendants of the road's namesake. The Greenwood Board of Selectmen voted Tuesday not to change the road's name.
Tony Reaves | Sun Journal
The sign for Alcohol Mary Road in Greenwood is a source of frustration for the Hertell family, whom some people believe are the descendants of the road's namesake. The Greenwood Board of Selectmen voted Tuesday not to change the road's name.
Posted June 22, 2011, at 9:35 a.m.
Last modified June 22, 2011, at 11:41 a.m.

GREENWOOD, Maine — Selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday night against changing the name of Alcohol Mary Road, after hearing from an attorney for the Hertell family and from residents who said they enjoy living on the colorfully named road.

Several Alcohol Mary Road residents rallied around the memory of Alcohol Mary and said they were proud of her alcohol-making activity during Prohibition. They said the road was named for her.

Arthur Hertell was silent at the meeting as attorney Jennifer Kreckel explained the family’s case to the board.

Kreckel said the family is tired of getting calls from people asking whether the road’s namesake was their grandmother. She wasn’t that person, and the question is an insult to Arthur and Edwin’s grandmother, who did live on that road and who was named Mary.

“They’re not trying to tell you what to do with your town,” Kreckel said.

“They hold her sainted in their memories, and to have Alcohol Mary associated with that is sort of a desecration of the memory,” Kreckel said.

Nancy Dewing said she’s been living on the road since the 1970s and said Alcohol Mary was a historical figure and a source of pride.

“I’m proud of the fact that it’s named after someone … who dealt with life the best way she could in a difficult time. She apparently produced alcohol. She fed herself. She kept her independence,” Dewing said.

Another resident, Amy Harren, said the road’s name was part of Greenwood’s history. “Alcohol Mary Road embodies, to me, Maine’s independence during a time that was very difficult.”

Harren said no one has been offended by the road name in all the years she has lived there. She said changing her address would be a lot of work not only for herself, but would raise concerns for mapping software and for emergency responders who might not recognize the road’s new name.

Board Chairman Fred Henderson asked for a motion on whether to change the name. All three selectmen voted against changing it.

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