Sunday, December 27, 2009
Happy Holidays, Readers! I hope you are all cuddled up with your gifts and your Valium Salt Licks? As a special holiday treat, I have my very own Daddy-O guest posting today. He spins a good yarn, so make yourself a hot toddy, sit down and enjoy!
TKW's Dad on: How I Got Served Alcohol while Underage and Resembling Wally Cleaver
I entered college in 1952. At that time, most colleges had hard and fast rules against drinking on campus. Still, I think it was the best time in history to attend college--the G.I. Bill had been enacted and many colleges/universities had Upperclassmen who had served in World War 2 and Korea. Because it was rather difficult for these educational institutions to inform returning servicemen in their early to mid-20's--just back from the toil and trauma of war--that they couldn't have a beer. What kind of asshole does that?
So here I was, 17 years of age, sharing space in Freshman housing with all of these older guys--guys who, by the way, definitely knew what T.G.I.F. meant. Now when I say I was 17, understand that I looked younger than that: 6 feet tall, 135 pounds soaking wet. You get the idea. Luckily, a 26 year old ex-Marine took a liking to me, and gave me his spare Military I.D.
Friday afternoons, everybody looking for a party went to a bar in town called The Bob-Inn. The town was dry except for pitchers of beer that flowed from a couple of establishments. Naturally, I was pretty excited to break in my "new" I.D. the next Friday.
Well, lets just say that the owner of The Bob-Inn didn't exactly buy that I was a 26 year old ex-Marine. He looked at the I.D., looked at me, grabbed my wallet and riffled through it...and kicked me to the curb. This wasn't the end of the world for two reasons: One, he hadn't confiscated my new I.D. And two, they served Schlitz on tap and I didn't like that crap beer anyways. It gave me a headache.
So, while the rest of the student body was at The Bob-Inn, I started down the street, hoping to find something to entertain me. About a block away was a place called The Green Lantern. I walked inside and it was almost empty, except for a gentleman behind the bar with a bald head with sides of white hair. I walked up to the bar as casually as I could, sat down, and ordered a beer (which to my delight was Budweiser on tap!). He looked at me for a couple of beats--eyeball to eyeball--and then smiled and poured me a beer. We visited on and off for about three hours, and several glasses later, I left, a happy man.
The next day, everyone asked me what had happened to me, and I told them I'd found a much better place to drink on Fridays. The next week, quite a few of my friends joined me at The Lantern, and the next Friday, even more joined me. Before long, hardly anybody went to The Bob-Inn anymore. The Lantern also had the benefit of Peg, the wife of Jack, the bald owner. Peg started coming in, once the crowds started flowing, and she made the best homemade soup and hamburgers you could imagine.
Now I gotta tell ya, this added benefit was awesome, since we had a dietician at the college named "Ma" Kuhns, who we swear had gotten such a good deal on orange marmalade that she blew the whole yearly budget on the stuff. She made the worst, skimpiest food and to this day, I cannot look at orange marmalade.
On October 23, 1956, I was spending the evening at The Lantern, and when the clock struck midnight, I looked at Jack and said, "Well, it's my birthday!" Jack smiled at me and said, "And now you're finally old enough to drink."
Somewhat taken aback, I laughed and said, "You've been serving me these past four years without a single question?"
Jack said, "I served you because you came in, were a polite little man and never caused a single problem."
I appreciated that; Jack was a very strapping, big man--nobody messed with Jack. It was sometime later that I learned that Jack was a retired lieutenant from the police force.
It was a great time to attend college. Helluva lot easier back then. Nicer, too. If we behaved, they let us grow up and have fun.
Obviously, my two daughters found something hilarious about this story, because one year I had a convention in Chicago and they insisted that they come, too. Just to see where "Dad went to school." We went up to the campus one November day, froze our butts off, and made a pilgrimage to The Lantern for lunch--just for old times.
Alas, Jack and Peg were gone, but the pub was doing just fine. That Christmas, my girls gave me a mug with this picture on it. It was in my office until I retired and now sits beside my computer at home.
***A message from TKW: you are fully allowed, if not expected, to laugh at the big, horrendous bar-hair that sis and I are sporting in that photo.
Posted by TKW at 7:30 AM