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Thursday, April 13, 2017

And the legal drinking age was?

By the time I was in high school I was old enough to drink liquor.  Well, maybe not according to the State of Kansas, or my mother, but I had a friend who had a father who made and bottled home brew.  He also left every weekend and left the stock unlocked.  I soon became known in Nickerson High School as "Home Brew girl."  That is a title I am not quite as proud of today as I was back then.  But the truth of the matter is it set the stage for later days when we moved to Hutchinson.

About the time we moved I was a senior in high school and tired of going there every day especially in a big city like Hutch where I knew no one.  So I got me a job in a burger place out on 4th and worked 2 weeks.  That was pretty boring.  It was one of those places where a speaker was on the tables and the customer ordered and I carried the food out .  Whoopee shit!  Big future there. 

I found the beer joints up on Main about the same time.  The interesting part here was when they checked ID it was in the form of a question.  "Are you old enough to drink?"
"Well, I been doing it for quite a while now so I guess I am."  Duh!

Now the best way to get free beer is to work in the place that sells it.  Within a one block area on Main Street were 3 bars that were known as the "3 Queens".  The first was the Manhattan Club, then the Brown Derby, and lastly was the Brass Rail.  I had heard of these places from way back when we lived in Nickerson and dad used to go drinking in Hutch.  Years later I read about them in the old family history when one of my great grandfathers had kept a journal.  One entry concerned his sons who worked for other farmers for cash money.  They had gotten paid and had " gone into Hutch and blowed up $20."  He was very upset about that little trip and mentioned it several times.  $20.00 was a lot of money back then and "blowing it up"  was a cardinal sin.

Also when I was young my fathers son (my half brother, Gene) had came home from the Army and was regaling us with tales of the 3 Queens and a lady of the night named "Sea Biscuit" who could out drink any man.  Her favorite drink was White Horse Scotch and milk.  I was "lucky" enough to meet her on one of my forays into the night life of the 3 Queens.  Sadly, she was not at all what I had pictured.  She was old, skinny and could cuss like a sailor.  She still drank White Horse Scotch and milk.  She had given up the "lady of the night" business and was married to a very tall man who was very quiet.  I think of them  when I hear the song, Country Bumpkin (click to listen.)  Her real name was Delores.  No last name, just Delores.  She did not remember my brother Gene.  She advised me to make something out of my life and not spend my time down on South Main.  My brother, Jake, concured with her and so my life in the bright lights of the 3 Queens was very short lived.

Then I found a place way out on 4th Street called the Tiny Tear.  The Tiny Tear was a cafe that was friendly to teenagers.  Sometimes I cooked there which also entailed waitressing.  I do not remember how I got from point A to point B since I did not have a car, but I managed.  The Tiny Tear was more my speed.   The kids that hung out at the Tiny Tear were very possessive of the place and we did not like strangers coming on our "turf."  During one of our "rumbles"  I met a guy who would be the love of my life.  His name was Jimmie and he called me "bright eyes."  Had the fates smiled on us we would no doubt still be together and I would still be in Hutchinson, but sadly, they did not.  He had just broken up with his girlfriend and 2 months into our torrid love affair she announced that he would be a father.  Back in those days that was an automatic marriage guarantee.  Thus ended our future.  I do not know what ever became of him, but I do know they had a couple more kids and I think he still lives back there, but I am not sure.  I still think of him fondly, but I also miss my little black calf named Dennis that died when he was 3 days old.  Water under the bridge.

I have good memories of my younger days.  While I may not be real proud of some of my shenanigans they did lead me to who and where I am today.  I do not have a prison record, for which I am thankful, but I do have a lot of life lessons that I could share with the kids now, but they would not believe me, so I won't.  My memories are just that, my memories.  And while I am sure Jimmie will never read this, if he does, I hope he remembers me just a little.

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