My Dad said, back in 1955 or so,"I would rather drink carbolic acid than this beer." He had just taken a swig from a bottle of beer. I had never seen him drink beer before. My memory is vague but I think after the swing, he put the bottle down on the kitchen table.
The bottle belonged to his sister, my Aunt Pauline, and she had brought it into the house from her car to keep in the refrigerator.
My brother Steve, then in junior high, said, "Well Dad I sure hope you don't have to make that choice.
We all laughed, except Dad. He gave Steve a sour look. Dad wasn't a religious teetotaler but I never saw him drink alcohol.
A little later I opened the icebox door and there the beer sat, all by itself in sort of splendor. It could have been a Schlitz but more likely it was a Lone Star, made in San Antonio where we lived.
The next day it was gone. I know this because I checked. I guessed my Aunt drank it that night before she left the next morning to drive back to work at the VA hospital in Temple.
We were a non-drinking family, not that anyone talked about it. None of our neighbors in San Antonio drank very much either. If they drank at all. This was 1955, maybe a year earlier.
I certainly never dreamed about being old enough to drink. I wanted to smoke.
In fact I somehow got a package of cigarettes, Lucky's I guess, and I went out to the garage to try them out that same year, my junior year in high school. Two were enough and I hid the pack behind the lawnmower.
A few hours later Dad came into the living room and said, "Danny, if you want to smoke, then sit here in the living room in front of us and have a cigarette." That pretty much ended smoking for a year or so, as I finished high school.
Our house was so small you could smell the next door neighbors smoking, if they were smoking. Most didn't smoke either.
We were all Methodists in that end of the street. Still, no one made a big deal out of church. We were sort of like Catholics; we just went to church, that was all. Dad taught Sunday School.
That was pretty much the end of smoking in high school, but when I went to college in Austin the first thing I did there was to buy a pack of cigarettes where I was drinking coffee around midnight, from the machine behind me, in the Toddle House .
That was what I wanted to do; to smoke whenever I wanted. Drinking was later, although I do have some recollection of having several bottles of beer and knocking a hole in the walls of the old Army barracks that was my first dorm at the U.of Texas. This was in 1955. This was before I went into the Army.
When I went into the Army and to Korea, where the best and strongest German beer in the world (Henekins, Blue Girl), was dirt cheap, everything changed.