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“R” is for Red dots

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“R” is for Red dots. A phenomenon that piques the curiosity of both visitors and lifelong residents: why do South Carolina liquor stores display red dots? The answer lies in a heated battle between dries and wets that developed when liquor sales became legal again in 1935. The fight was over on-site advertising. In 1945 authorities authorized that only a discreet “Retail Liquor Dealer” sign--reduced to only a few inches high—could be placed in the lower right hand corner of a front window. A Charleston sign painter came up with the idea to surround the little signage with a large red dot. Thus, was born South Carolina’s famous red dot. Despite efforts to ban the dot and reduce its size, in the twenty-first century the red dot remains a faithful beacon for those seeking liquor.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.