A few years ago I was visiting an old beau in North Carolina. We were not far from Raleigh when I saw an ABC liquor store on the side of the road, all by itself. It was odd because the store was a one-storey structure, with a long wall protruding from its right side. There was room for two or three cars to park behind this wall and a door on the side so that people could park and enter the liquor store without being seen from the street. How strange, I thought, and how incredibly clandestine.
I asked my friend what on earth was the purpose of making a liquor store like that. He said, “Oh, that’s what people around here call a Baptist Wall”. He explained to me that there in the extreme Bible Belt of the United States, many religious denominations prohibited their citizens from indulging in alcohol. So these walls were built to prevent people on the street from seeing who was entering the liquor store. It showed the hypocrisy of a denomination whose members publicly opposed alcohol consumption but privately indulged.
I laughed at his explanation because this Canadian couldn’t imagine why anyone would need to be secretive about trips to the liquor store. But in the South, especially in North Carolina, the first state to enact Prohibition, it was a fact from the past. Imagine, I thought, people had to hide behind a wall to do something they wouldn’t dare in the open. And while we were talking, a woman in a nice looking car drove up behind the wall and entered the liquor store from the side. WOW!
Since that time I’ve asked many people if they had ever heard of a Baptist Wall, and to date, no one has. I’ve searched the internet but there is no sign of it there, except for on a forum someone was explaining what a Baptist wall is. Perhaps the ‘powers that be’ have removed all evidence of it online. Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed it.
That got me to thinking about Baptist Walls and secrets. How sometimes we are one way in public and a completely different persona when at home where no one sees us. Have you ever heard someone say, “If you really knew me, you probably wouldn’t like me.”
Do you have a Baptist Wall in your life? What are you hiding from your friends and family? Sometimes we hide who we really are because we think people wouldn’t like us if they knew certain things about us. I’ve found the opposite to be true. When people have learned some things about me, it has opened conversation about problems in their own life. Sometimes letting yourself be vulnerable makes you more real to the people around you.
Why not just be yourself? After all, as the saying goes, ‘Everyone else is taken.’