As a kid helping out, growing up on a Maine farm, alcohol was not preached as evil. Wasn’t prevalent or part of the childhood.
Maybe it was because my Dad’s brother, Uncle Bud was a professional alcoholic. Had eight wonderful kids, but only stopped drinking when he stopped breathing, was dead.
Maybe that is why I do not remember much involving alcohol in Maine on the farm. This is the highlight of what I can recall. On a blistering hot summer day, when it came around to 5 oclock quitting time, my dad might hop in the pickup. Head to Paul Drew’s store on Smyrna Street to pick up 2 16 oz Narragansett bottles of beer. “Nasty Gansett’s” another name for this flavor, octane of beer in Maine. And the kind that had a game in the bottle caps, a brain teaser to figure out as they were opened, put down the hatch I suppose.
Dad would sit under a lilac with mom, enjoying the sunset, savoring a hard day of work but great sense of accomplishment. Slowly drinking, savoring that one lone beer as the motivating carrot for the day, the reward for all that hard work.
It’s mate, the other beer twin staying in the refrigerator for months or longer. Beer was not evil, twisted, the ruination of all…just was not present, utilized. Missing from my childhood.
And once a year, Everett Curry, long gone like both my parents would drop in to the farm around Christmas, the holiday season. Dad would reach under a kitchen cabinet for a little sweetener with that egg nog or ginger ale.
Gurgle a splash of whiskey in his and the company’s drink. One drink sipped while conversing with the annual visitor.
No seconds, hollering, brawls, fights, commotion to spoil the Christmas season.
And that whiskey bottle like the Narragansett in our household lasted a long, long time. Add with a glass of wine once in a while, very very infrequently with Sunday dinner. That’s the small, thin family album of snapshots of alcohol appearances growing up. That’s it. The short list of images of any alcoholic beverage, or use of it in the Maine farm household I grew up in.
I also as I type, tap, hunt and peck vaguely recall, remember dad saying an Aunt Beatrice was a smart business woman, a peach of a lady who loved kids. But he and mom rented from here on Watson Avenue in Houlton in the early years of their marriage. And when Aunt Bea got a snootful of rum or whatever her spirit of choice was for the “recipe”, she would threaten eviction if my dad did not trot to the liquor store and bring her back a new “jug”. Aunt Bea was to be avoided when she was hoisting multiple glasses of ice and liquor, drinking it seems.
Oh sure, I think in their 20’s mom and dad would attend and have parties with more than soda, coffee, tea in that glass folks were holding, sampling, refreshing.
Let their hair down so to speak. Maybe my older brothers have more of a recollection to add to the little I just provided on the subject here in the blog post. But whatever it was, the alcohol usage seemed to run its course. And then they settled down to work on the farm, raising four boys.
There was not much of a place for the alcohol in the operation of farm life as I knew it on the County Road. Too much to do and sitting still for long knowing the farming operation was not whispering, but hollering your name to do this, this and this. Before those black clouds over head opened up and made that task completion a “wash out” for the day. Or cost a crop being planted, cultivated, hoed, sprayed or harvested if you did not tend to chores, business. That’s survival, not just living day to day and staying on a Maine farm.