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How Dry I Am


In 1942 when I was three, most small towns in Texas were “dry,” and we lived in one. This meant that liquor was not sold in our town, and, in theory, drinking the evil brew was effectively curtailed. As always, there were ways around this situation. You could purchase booze in areas close by which were not “dry” and transport it back to your home, and this is how people who liked a little nip occasionally handled this mild inconvenience. But most of the residents were (on the surface at least) teetotalers. My parents were both very young at that time. Dad was only 22 and Mom was 23, and they frequently had friends over to our apartment for an evening of socializing and beverage consumption. I was usually up and mingling with the guests during at least part of these evenings (there was, after all, no television in those days.) Plus, I had many relatives back in Fort Worth, which was not dry, and they all enjoyed a cocktail or a beer every now and then. So, to me, social drinking was a normal component of a party. My Mom worked hard to get to know the townspeople and make friends. During the time we lived there, she was able to stay home and be a housewife, so it was important to meet people and establish relationships. A few months after we arrived,

she achieved the thing she had been working toward. She was invited to a Tea being hosted by none other than the mayor’s wife. It was to be held in the parlor at the Baptist church. This was the big time, and my Mom was delighted to be included. She decided to take me along, and in later years she described to me the events of that day in vivid detail. I was a quiet, shy child and usually well-behaved. On this occasion, I sat primly by my mother and carefully sipped tea from the china cup. The conversation became subdued as the ladies munched. It was not a lively, boisterous group. At least, not yet. Daintily holding my teacup, I turned to my mother and said in a clear, penetrating, little kid voice, “Mommy, let’s pretend this is beer!”

A deathly quiet fell upon the very proper assembly. My poor mother turned a radiant red and smiled weakly. We left the party very soon after that. It was the last of her invitations from the town’s elite.

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