Do you remember the very first item about the church that you had to “put on the shelf”?  The first thing you learned that didn’t have a good answer, and caused you some cognitive dissonance, so you just put it away to think about another day?

I remember mine, because it was already literally on a shelf (note the proper use of the word literally). In my home growing up, mom had decorated the front room with some antique items, and one of them was a stoneware jug.  It was always turned so the handle faced outwards.  Below is a photo of the same jug that is now in my home.


One day when I was 11 or 12, I was goofing off, and I took the jug down to check it out. To my surprise, the jug was actually displayed backwards, and the front was as shown below. After I looked at it, I put it back on the shelf.


I can still remember the odd feeling I had, trying to reconcile the Word of Wisdom as I had been taught, and the fact that there was a liquor company in predominately Mormon Salt Lake.  Who would be buying this at the turn of the century?

I ask my dad about where we got it from, and he said they had found it in his grandfather’s shed years ago.  This is my great grandfather, who was a bishop and who I’m named for. He said they teased grandpa about it, saying he was sneaking drinks behind grandma’s back. But my dad did not have an answer on why in Mormon Salt Lake City, there was a liquor company.

I have done some research, and found out that the Utah Liquor Company started in 1894, and continued until prohibition.  I also found out that mine is a misprint, and the real address was 223 South Main where it moved in 1903.

Later in life I learned the true history of the WofW, and that it was not enforced as we know it today when the Utah Liquor Company was in business. [1] So maybe great-grandpa was really drinking out in his shed.

So what was your very first item on the shelf.  Can you remember it, and the feelings you had?


[1] The very best history of the WofW that I have read can be found here in Dialogue: THE WORD OF WISDOM: FROM PRINCIPLE TO REQUIREMENT