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Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 12, 2008 2:50PM

Photo: My First Beer, age 18 months

Rate: 13 Flag

not my first beer 

Hey, remember your first beer? I don’t.

It’s not because of binge drinking and black outs, it’s because before the age of two, my dad started letting me have the last sips of beer to “help him finish” the can.  It’s my sharpest memory of us boding as a tyke.

This practice continued until around age five or six, and on the weekend visitations when Dad actually exercised his rights to joint custody, I remember vivid instances of me jumping up and down, begging for the pleasure of the last sip swirling at the bottom of the classic red-trimmed Budweiser cans.

I’ll be damned now if I can remember how the practice stopped.  I’d hope that either my dad wised up or my mom’s conscience prompted an ultimatum.  Perhaps I stopped liking beer because I realized that Dad was an alcoholic and needed to quit. I saw beer as the reason behind his regular, sometimes yearlong disappearances and a string of disconnected phone numbers.  Not knowing when or if I’d ever see my dad again was common to my youth.

The longest disappearance came after I turned 13 and my dad moved to Arkansas. The next time I heard from him was as a senior in high school.

Dad died a couple years back at age 63. We maintained a steady phone relationship in the years since our reconnection.  He never did quit drinking permanently, especially since beer seemed to alleviate some of the Parkinson’s symptoms he fought in his final years.  Yet I am still proud of all the AA medals he’d ever shown me, especially the one he received for being one year sober.

I dearly love this picture just as I dearly love my dad.  

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Comments

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Ah, stellaa, there were plenty of more serious things that would have (and did) land my father in jail.

If I ever get to the bottom of his arrest in Ohio for allegedly hijacking an 18 wheeler - for which there was insufficient evidence to make a case - I'll have to write that up.
What a revealing story. My first sip of beer was around the same age. I had and have a different relationship with my father than you had and whoever really knows why parents feed their kids beer. I'm somehow inclined to think the reason my dad gave me sips of his beer was to discourage me from drinking in the future...little would he know his baby girl would grow up to pass up beers for hard liquor...Ha!
There is something very endearing and nostalgic about the picture, I have to say I'm drawn to it as though it's a piece of fine art.
The photo is compelling, isn't it. I've always loved how all the 70s/80s prints come out orange tinted. Bizarre.

If I were to propose a caption for this picture, I'd use: Me, kicking back a cold one after a hard day of nappin'.
Back then, people didn't think much about giving their kids beer. So, that picture seems more shocking now.
Joan: the same sentiment could apply to the fact my mom smoked during all three of her pregnancies. Yikes!
Corey, this one hits home with me. Way close. I know how you feel man.

rated
G
Wow, does this hit close to home. Yep, brings back memories for me too. Hittin' the last swig out of the bottle or the can from my Dad as a young kid...great leagcy, huh? People back in the sixties; at least in my family thought pictures like this were cute. Go figure.

Sneakin' the wine and beer on regular occasions by twelve, drinking & using on a daily basis by fifteen. Full blown alcoholic and daily drug-user by nineteen. Ah yes, the good old days...lots of fun in the beginning years, not so fun or productive in any real sense the last ten. Lots of wreckage.

Clean & sober since thirty-three, coming up on twenty years as an active member of AA one day at time. My fourteen year old daughter has never seen me w/a drink or take a drink in her life. Way grateful. Life is good...
We had to put all our beer cans and bottles up high because our twin boys loved beer and would drink it if we were ever lax.

Interesting story, could have come from the annals of my family history (we're full up on alcoholics who mean well).
I had the pleasure of drinking with both mom and dad!Mom succumbed at 42 to the disease.Dad made it to 72.Go figure?
My old man did the same thing somewhere there's a picture of me (about the same age) drinking Rolling Rock.

We did the beer sip thing too until my brother and I stopped asking, not sure how old. The funny thing is, when we both hit our teens and alcohol was introduced socially, it was no big deal, and neither of us went overboard. I like to think that being introduced to it early made it seem less of a big deal later
For those wondering, my dad did switch to Bud and that is what I remember, the picture shows us with oil can style Schlitz cans.

Thanks everyone for their comments.
I have two sons and their dad is an alcoholic and addict. "Not knowing when or if I’d ever see my dad again was common to my youth." This is their life too. Thank you for sharing this.
For anyone who liked this post, you will also like:

Your loving son, B by M B
In Praise of a Desperate Man by Tom Cordle
My parents never gave me beer when I was that age but I used to wait my chance and when no one was looking I would drain the last sips from everyone's bottles after a party. I grew up liking the taste until I weighed 150 but changed my mind when I started putting on more weight. I switched to wine in the hope that it would be less fattening.
What a powerful photograph. I like your caption idea. I remember that whole "child drinking" ritual as well. It was a real crowd pleaser.