In the 1950s, the end of my childhood and my teen years, my father would come home on a Friday night after playing cards with a few guys in the local pool room in the small town about four miles from our place, most often with a carton of Pall Malls that hopefully would last my parents a week, more if there was a blizzard or the roads muddy, and a gallon jug of whiskey, usually Windsor; and once in a while a gallon of Betty Anne Wine. A sip of that would settle us kids down quickly, settle as meaning dead to the world. I don’t remember the ritual of going to bed, but I do know that if we resisted, there would be hell to pay. Usually after the night news at 10 pm, a quick undress, and under the stack of covers, if cold as a Witches’ teat as my father would say, or a sheet, if hotter than Hades. I still remember the taste of that wine, sweet, almost like sherry, both of which I can’t drink now.
Other than an occasional small glass of wine, we kids were not allowed to drink, although once in a while we took a sip of Mom’s or Dad’s beer, Schlitz, if they had some. We were quite poor; any type of imbibing would have to be few and far between. Today I know that in my father’s later years, when the strength in his limbs was no longer there, that beers in the afternoon on the back porch was the only thing that he enjoyed, besides the Cubs, that is. The Cubs kept my father hanging on, the tv on the porch blaring, disturbing my mother who sat at the kitchen table drinking coffee and writing letters to old friends and relatives, once in a while drinking a beer too.