After nearly ten years of displaying objects pickled in alcohol and acting out the "Trial of Booze" on high school platforms, the W.C.T.U. and its associates have at last found the opportunity to play their favorite game. These seasoned lobbyists have put away, their scientific experiments and thrust themselves into the less chaste forum of the United States Senate, where they have secured an anti-booze amendment to the 18 and 19-year-old draft bill. All the local chapters have been buzzing with expectation and plans since the first soldier went to camp in October 1940. This amendment is the fruition of their hopes.
If passed the bill will be another great triumph for these parched and pious politicians. Nearly every city in the country has some unit of the armed forces training close enough to it to come within the jurisdiction of the proposed measure. As more and more specialized units are set up for the 7,500,000 men expected in the Army by spring, the radius of the dry area will be practically nation-wide. Congressional support should be comfortably abundant since Congress can well use a palliative for anxious mothers. The timing, the phrasing, and the scope of this amendment shows that its proponents have lost none of their parliamentary skill and knack for careful planning.
They seem to have forgotten, however, the baleful effects of their last great triumph. Most sociologists agree that the origin of the vexing "youth problem" of the 1920's was inextricably linked with Prohibition. Sporting flasks and muttering recipes for bathtub gin, American youth of the 20's indulged in more drinking than any generation before or since. Drunken youths were a common sight on the stairs of every entry in Harvard halls. The nation's youth is not only more temperate now than during Prohibition, but the Army has done an excellent job of keeping order in camp and patrolling all adjacent areas. Not only are restrictions enforced, but medical care is forthcoming for the infrequent cases of dipsomania that might appear.
There is no reason-to suppose that many youths will "go wrong" in the Army. If further guidance and restrictions are necessary when the younger men are inducted, it should come from the Army and not from the decisions of dry lobbyists. No soldier needs to be tied to the apron strings of the W.C.T.U.