Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Prohibition

On Repeal Day, I went to the gym and bade the ladies at the desk a Happy Repeal Day, as is the custom of the country. They did not know what Repeal Day was, but one of them suggested that a national holiday would be in order when I explained it. The other lady, however, fretted about "all those drunk drivers". It hit me then that the draconian drunk driving laws we have seen enacted in the last thirty years are a kind of back door Prohibition, at least for people who like to drink in saloons. For those of us who drink alone at home, drunk driving laws are not an issue (except that we have to wait to start drinking until we're pretty sure we're not going out again).

One of my conspecifics at work, a lady of Irish descent, explained that she understood that Prohibition back in the day had been a reaction to all the new immigrants who liked to drink in saloons and be drunk in public. It wasn't aimed at them as drank at home. I'm not sure I agree since the temperance crusaders aimed for temperance for all wherever they preferred to drink, but I imagine the sight of immigrant louts passed out in the gutter in a pool of their own vomit went a long way toward garnering public support.

Where I grew up, it was "dry". You could not buy or sell alcohol in the confines of the county. You could go to Tennessee and get it. Some folks (the Ridleys and the Vaughns come to mind) made a nice living selling liquor in violation of the law. Every few years they'd collaborate with the Baptist preachers to keep the town dry. Of course, many folks made a little wine or beer, and some made whiskey for their own consumption. Mainly, drinking was reckoned to be a huge sin, much like dancing or coeducational swimming.

My great grandpappy was a huge booze hound right until he died from non booze related old age. My maternal great uncles were notorious sots. None of my nearer kin drank at all. It was just too much effort.

I started my drinking career at 14 with Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill Apple Wine. It made me so sick that I did not let a drop pass my lips for four years. That's when I discovered bourbon and began my love affair with the water of life.

2 comments:

b-psycho said...

First alcoholic drink I ever took was Coors Light, back when I was 16. Even back then I realized it sucked and haven't drunk it since.

Far as hard liquor goes, I don't even remember. Me & some foreign exchange students from Japan at this shitty little local college (in Iowa) were trading shots of some of Ev-Er-Y-Thing. Got so drunk I didn't have a hangover the next morning -- cuz I was still drunk.

You learn an appreciation over the years. Now w/r/t beer the most mainstream thing I drink is Guinness or Sam Adams (I usually go for the craft/microbrews), & liquor I prefer rum or vodka mixed with something else.

Try this drink sometime: half 151 rum, half pineapple juice, w/ a splash of Cherry Pucker on top. Got that at this reggae festival and...let's just say I felt quite Irie after a couple.

Steve Scott said...

VF,

Not counting a sip of Coors I had when I was four (I remember the taste), my first beer was when I was 17 sitting in the bleachers at an Oakland A's baseball game. Old Milwaukee. Bleh! I soon found out about better beer. I had a few brief hard liquor periods in the early days. A single malt period, a Cuervo Gold era, a JD era, but mostly I drink beer. The last few years I've grown to like red wine, but I'm no expert there. Now, my cheap volume beer is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, fairly local, and my favorite is Guiness.

In California, the drinking age has been 21 as long as I can remember. It's available everywhere, from 6am to 2am. Grocery stores carry beer, wine and liquor. My current hometown, Martinez, Calif, is where the Martini was invented back in the 1800's.