Saturday, July 18, 2009




Walking up the road this morning brought to me memories of more than 60 years ago. Each Sunday through the summer months there happened about one mile up the road from our farm, what we called a "picnic" in a place called a Grove. It was really a miniature carnival, with lots of food, booths, bingo, and a very sparse assortment of "kiddie" rides, and a nice small pasture for our horses.

The main attraction was--what else?-- the BEER tent. It commanded the central piece of acreage. Being very young, I remember this home under canvass, being like an acre in area. (It was not!) Whatever, it was the most busy place, with hundreds of men, mostly farmers and suppliers, very few women, standing around talking extremely loud from 11 AM until 10 PM. Every summer Sunday.

These events were sponsored in turn by Kiwanis Club, Democratic Party of Delhi Township, Republican Party of Delhi Township, Masonic Temple--you get the idea. Small town beer brawl.

My father and I walked many a Sunday to this affair, sometimes accompanied by my year-younger sister. When we began these adventures we were about ages 10-12. Often we (my sister!) would hook up one of the mules, Jack or Kate, or sometimes one of the horses, Pete, or Jerry. We had an old-fashioned, covered, small, wagon-type vehicle with four wide-rimmed wheels--about four feet in diameter. I DO recall it had a one-horse-power engine, which used as fuel a product called oats. These were fun days before alcohol became a real problem for me.

However, I did display alcoholic thinking--without the heavy daily drinking--at this time. The world revolved around King Me! It was common for us kids to have a beer or two, or more, in my case. The sponsoring organization of the day had a "Twenty-One-For-A Dollar" gimmick, whereby anyone and/or everyone could participate. It was easy. By paying a buck, their name, or business name was announced over a terribly loud speaker system. 21 beers were sent around the tent's yardage of plywood table. And anybody could just amble up to the plywood counters, grab a beer, and have at it. And I did. And I spent most of my day there. it was exciting to be around the "Big Boys".

I remember being 'adopted' by a group of older girls (ages 15-17--I was 12) as a kind of mascot. They liked me (my perception?) to hang around them--drunk. that's when I learned a few things--how to hug, how to cop a feel, how to kiss, and etc. Needless to say, this was all part of the "happy" part of my childhood--grin! How I hated to see summer end. But there was always next year, next summer. And I lived for Next Year, believe me.

A SIDE NOTE: My "next years" turned into nightmares of a "maintenance" daily gallon of White Port, OR a daily quart of Vodka, plus a lot of other drinking--so I became a bartender!

This story so far is lacking an important ingredient. My father. Amid all this: the walk or buggy ride, the music, the noise, the constant free-flow of malt and hops, the girl-gang who "liked me" (Ha!), Pop--as I called him--remained always a constant anchor. The end of our stay would arrive--we always made our exit before the party became a small non-atomic war.

My father had by then bought his share of TWENTY-ONES FOR A DOLLAR...on "Steve Elsaesser Dairy Farms...Buy Direct and Save".....and we all drank MORE than our share, I guess--after all, I was not concerned about who else was drinking...or not. I know Pop came home with us--he, sober, more or less. And we had only one mile to walk, or take our "fun" buggy ride in the dark. The engine of "one-horse power", had waited patiently in the shade for us.

My father would say to me, "Are you OK to steer this thing home? Did you water the horse?" I'd answer "Yep!" Understand...that this man who operated a large dairy farm, who advertised his business with "21-for-a-dollar" beers, who made certain his children were having fun, who somehow coaxed us home and into bed--this man, my father--was sightless, totally blind!

He always...always told me that I was not an alcohlic, that all I needed to do was drink in "moderation". Oh, how I hated that word!
Because, unknow to him, there was no "moderation" in my dictionary.

He had not yet totally lost his hearing. That would come later. That story is worthy of a blog. (Hey, THIS story turned into a blog. Whaddaya know!)

Peace and LOVE, and sobriety today, Peeps
Let's get out there and DO it!

NO TRIVIA TODAY, maybe I shold just leave this out. After all, what the F'k does it have to do with alcoholic recovery, helping others, God, spirituality, or even anyone's interest???


Madison said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful family. What a dad! Thank you for taking the time to look back and write about it. It all starts out so innocent. Then, for addicts, it just careens out of control.

Prayer Girl said...

Great stories.....take me back to earlier times. Very nostalgic.

Thank you for this glimpse into your childhood. No wonder I love you so....:)


Tall Karen said...

It's funny how the drinking events all seem to be firmly planted in my childhood memory banks also. They were just so much fun (and naughty). I found the trivia fun and interesting :)

vicariousrising said...

Steve! I never thought I'd see the day you'd do a post I wouldn't let my 14-year-old read. Really! Copping a feel and being a mascot to a gaggle of older gals! I don't want him getting any ideas.


Ack. I'm too young to be the mother of a high school freshmen. Thank goodness I am sober.

Andrew said...

Thanks for the glimpse of simpler times.

Nothing wrong with trivia, to my mind.

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

I cry when you tell stories like this!

Cindy said...

Goodness, awesome story! Things were SO different yrs. ago...and were like this in many rural areas. When I ment my first husband, we went to his hometown and it was apparent that the bar was the social center of this rural area. He drank with his father after a days hard work at the age of 12 or 13. This made it easier for his alcoholism to take off. He's sober 15 yrs. now.

Di-Git said...

Wonderful Story. I grew up on a farm myself in Kansas but we did not have carnivals like this.

Anonymous said...

This is a great post, Steve. But I will say...I can't get past the 'cop a feel' line. Kind of jumped right out at me.

Steve E. said...

Hey, hey, hey..."cop a feel"...please don't forget this blog topic took place more than 60 years ago.

OKAY! I'll capitulate, I maybe should have not got so explicit. Mea Culpa, mea culpa. Don't have time to take it out right now--gotta get to a 5:30 meeting.

Please do not jusdge me harshly--or at all? I'm still just me..whatever that is.

Mary Christine said...

Sad to me.

Scott said...

what a kool story!

Syd said...

I like the stories about your dad. He seemed like a wise man.

Robin said...

Awesome story!
It just shows it started out very innocent.
BTW I like the trivia!

Cat said...

LOL! You sound like my teenagers! Oh Lord! hehehe