30 Year Closing Anniversary
A new display is at the Virgin Valley Heritage Museum regarding the longest running non-union picket line that was maned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 2 ½ years. The residents in Virgin Valley were determined to not have a porno store in their community along with all the secondary effects it would bring. It has been almost 30 years since the picketing began on September 20, 1993 and continued through March 28, 1996.
The citizens and Chamber of Commerce came together to form HOME – Help Our Moral Environment – organization. People came to make signs, make schedules for sign up times, and raise funds to defray the costs of the shade structures and fuel for the orchard heater. Those on the picket line wrote down the license plate numbers and state to intimidate customers. When the citizens in Washington county were informed that most of the cars frequenting the business were from Utah, they volunteered to help man the picket line also.
These mothers, fathers, teachers, business owners, grandparents, farmers, contractors, doctors, students and church leaders from the several churches walked the sidewalk. In the summer they continued even when there was 117-degree heat that lasted a week, they sat in front of ‘Ol Smoky Joe” the orchard heater when it was cold but they never gave up. In fact, there were some memorable experiences: a 90th birthday party was celebrated, wedding anniversaries, Christmas caroling, a Mother’s Day breakfast, along with Dutch Oven dinners in the winter and ice cream socials in the summer and Friday night pizza from 5 Buck Pizza.
The City of Mesquite tried to shut the store down when it was found that they had misrepresented their business license as office space. When they opened as Pure Pleasure Book Store instead, the city revoked their business license. The owners then sued the City of Mesquite, and the judge granted an injunction to stay open. The City with legal help, made new zoning laws.
The court battle for this new Ordinance #103 was finally ruled on by District Court Judge Philip Pro in Las Vegas Federal Court on March 27, 1996. The store was shut down the next day by Chief Mike Murphy, Mesquite Police Chief, Mayor Ken Carter, city councilmen and city building inspectors. A large crowd gathered to celebrate the victory. In retrospect, Murphy explained, “This was a time when people gathered for something bigger than self.”
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that has.” Margaret Mead.
You are invited to come see the display of pictures, original picket signs, letters from the Governor of Utah and others and learn about White Ribbons Across America Campaign to educate about the secondary effects of pornography. Some of the memories on the picket line have been put in a book that can be viewed, along with a timeline that has been created and copied for visitors to take.
There is a metal plaque on the sidewalk on Eldorado Drive in Mesquite to commemorate the citizens’ tireless efforts and their victory.
The Museum is open 10- 4:00 Tuesday -Saturday and is located at 35 W. Mesquite Boulevard. The display will run for about 3 months.
By Cheryl Jensen