Sunday, June 12, 2011

Man says Alcohol Mary Road defames his family name

To the Hertell family in Greenwood, Maine, the name Alcohol Mary Road is offensive and desecrates a relative. The Hertells used to live on the road and had a grandmother named Mary, but they say she's not the road's namesake. Blaine Mills, vice president of the Greenwood Historical Society, said the road is named for a woman who made and sold liquor during Prohibition. “There was no big deal about it,” Mills said. “A lot of people made booze back in those days.”

But it's a big deal for Arthur Hertell of Bethel, who said he has been harassed for years by people who want to know if his grandmother was Alcohol Mary. “These people call up and say, 'Oh, Alcohol Mary, she's your grandmother.' And I just hang up,” Hertell said. “I don't know why they have to bother me.” Hertell has appealed to the Greenwood Board of Selectmen to change the name, but at the May 17 meeting they voted to keep the name as is.

Board Chairman Fred Henderson said he was concerned that changing the name would be a hardship to residents of the road. He estimated about a dozen people live there. The Hertells offered to pay the town's expenses in changing the name. Henderson said the town's cost in replacing the sign isn't an issue. He said Alcohol Mary Road residents would “have to change all their chequebooks and they'd have trouble.”

“It is very disturbing to them to associate their beloved grandmother with someone named Alcohol Mary,” said attorney Jennifer Kreckel, who represents the family. Hertell, 76, said it wouldn't have mattered to him when he was young. “Now I've got grandchildren. They want to know about Alcohol Mary.” He said Alcohol Mary was Finnish, as is his family, but that she and the Hertells aren't related. Hertell said he wants to change the name and put the issue to bed. “It's just an ongoing battle and it'll never stop until the road is changed.”

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