Sunday, August 19, 2012

Beer #3 - Stroh's

In Narragansett, RI in the early 80's, Stroh's went from being unheard of to the high schooler's beer of I'm told.  I haven't seen it sold in New England for quite some time.   

Monday, August 6, 2012

Let me explain

James Earl Jones has a famous speech in the movie "Field of Dreams", in which he says emphatically to Kevin Costner's character, "The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball."   I disagree.   In my opinion, the one constant through all the years -- aside from opposing thumbs -- has been beer.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not beer-obsessed.  Nor am I a beer connoisseur by any stretch.  I don't know hops from scotch.  I routinely go several days without drinking one, and I rarely have more than two in any given day.  However, over the past few decades I've consumed enough of the stuff to understand that it is so much more than just an alcoholic beverage.  Beer is a common thread that weaves together thousands of years of the human experience.  And while I am notoriously prone to hyperbole, let me share two quotes with you that prove my point.

"He was a wise man who invented beer."-Plato

"Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza."
-Dave Barry

Plato/Barry - not a bad presidential ticket!  Any beverage that so elegantly binds an ancient philosopher to a modern day goofball has mystical qualities and is uniquely significant to our relatively short history as a species.  I rest my case. 

Picture of my attic with said tree.
Good times.
So let me get to why I started this blog.   Several months ago, a large pine tree crashed onto our home in the Boston suburbs. Fortunately we were away on vacation when it happened so no one was hurt.   And thanks to the assistance of wonderful neighbors and a responsive insurance agency, our roof was repaired quickly and with few inconveniences.  However, during the repair I was forced to do something I hoped I wouldn't have to do until the day we moved out.  Actually, to tell the entire truth, I was kinda hoping I'd never have to do it EVER!  But there was no getting around it.  I would need to [cue the horror-movie music] clean out the attic! 

At first, it felt like I'd just received a Viet Nam War draft notice -- a fate worse than death!  But once I got into it, it became almost fun.  And as I slowly started to realize that the result my efforts would be a 100% clutter-free attic, the experience took on an almost religious quality.   It was like meditation for the material world.  I was literally cleaning out the clutter from the deep recesses of my home and gaining personal clarity in the process.   After several hours of back-breaking heaving and ho'ing, dozens of perilous trips up and down the rickety fold-out ladder that drops onto our second floor hallway, and choking on plumes of dust and spray insulation, I worked my way to the very back of  the attic, where I had not set foot in nearly 10 years.   It was there that I rediscovered [cue the suspenseful music] my old beer can collection.
Stop your laughing, it beats collecting stamps!

Some of you may recall that a beer-can-collecting craze started in the 1970's, which seemed to fizzle out in the early-mid 80s along with fondue parties, sun tea and disco.  From the ages of 12 until I left for college, I collected several hundred different kinds of beer cans from all over the world.   Over time, I got more savvy and requested that my father punch small holes in the botton of the cans and drain the beer into a mug, which kept the top of the cans unopened.   He was all too happy to oblige.   He got the beer, I got a pristine  

The other day, with the temperature in the mid-90's and added bonus of oppressive humidity, I decided to dig into the old collection, which is now residing in my cool, dry and impossibly cluttered basement.  Many of the cans were covered in dust and some had been dented or crushed from the years of being transported and stored in various places.  And a few of the full ones were showing signs of stress from years of excessively high and low temperatures in my New England attic.   However, most of the cans survived in pretty decent shape, and as I began to clean and organize them, childhood memories started to emerge.   Each can triggered a new memory - a place, a person, a song a smell.  And then, it dawned on me.  I'll bet every can in this collection has special meaning to someone!  Why not create a place on the web where people can see and share my silly old collection and offer their own memories or stories for others to experience?  SO - that's what this blog is all about.

Each week, I will be featuring a beer can (or group of cans) from my collection, with the hope of stirring up some old nostalgia and eliciting some great beer-laden lore.  So without further delay, I will toss out one that is more personal, dating back to my days at Keene State College circa 1984-88.   I look forward to your stories, anecdotes, simple one-line recollections, facts, figures, jokes, comments and general feedback.  Enjoy!