A grand night out.

Last night Kate was invited to a birthday party. She specifically asked us not to attend with her, and since we were invited to another party, and had similar thoughts about shlepping her along with us, we honored her wish. We are bad parents.

The party was at a large American Legion hall, with several entrances. Only one seemed to be lit up, the one at the bar. “Of course it must be somewhere else in the building,” we said as we walked in. “Of course they wouldn’t allow a child’s birthday party to be held in a bar. Not in Indiana. Not even in a private club.” (Locals know the state’s laws on this subject to be utterly batsh*t, with children thought to be so delicate that they must not be exposed to the corrupting sight of a bar filled with its choir of bottles, each one holding a different formula of the devil’s potion.)

Of course we were wrong. The birthday girl’s relatives were pushing the tables together in the back. We passed through a room full of Legion drinkers, including a solitary man with a 40-ounce beer in front of him, a full ashtray and a deep concentration on the basketball game. We made the gift exchange, gave Kate the standard behave-yourself orders and took off. A couple hours later, we made our exit from our own party: “Well, gotta shove off. Need to go pick up our kid at the bar.”

Back at the Legion, karaoke night was in full swing, the usual warblers alternating with the birthday-party kids, who sang “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” as their final number before being kicked out at 9 p.m. (Legion rules — no kids after 9).

Please note I had no problem with this. In south St. Louis, where everyone else in my family grew up, this was pretty much the way it was. Kids went to bars with their parents and were served vanilla Cokes and hot dogs. Big hairy deal.

But it was just so strange, going in to kiss my sweet daughter goodnight for the last time, burying my nose in her hair to get one last whiff of her (only mothers understand how much we need to smell our kids) and thinking: This kid stinks like an ashtray.

Posted at 6:12 am in Uncategorized |

14 responses to “A grand night out.”

  1. Linda said on December 12, 2004 at 11:20 am

    I don’t think it’s a big hairy deal either. Sometimes I think kids are protected from these things TOO much nowdays . When we were kids, my dad would go out to the bar some Saturday nights and we kids didn’t really give a hoot. He kept a bottle of whiskey under the kitchen sink and we never touched it, we never thought about it. He had several hunting rifles hanging on their bedroom wall, unlocked, and we never even thought about messing with them. We simply knew that some things were for adults and not for kids. I think separating the kids party in the back of the Legion Hall, if it must be held there, is just as effective a way to teach them that there is a place for kids and a place for adults as getting all bent out of shape and saying, oh, no! we can’t have kids in THERE!

    Sugar Cream Pie update: I made another one, and this time I didn’t get it a hurry, I let the batter rest for 20 minutes. After an hour in the oven, it still was a little runny, but I took it out anyway and put it in the fridge overnight and it set up fine. OMG! Delish!

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  2. basset said on December 12, 2004 at 12:52 pm

    Well, y’know, the strangest laws usually have to do with sex and/or intoxicants… I still don’t understand why Indiana allows wine and beer to be sold in grocery stores but the beer has to be warm.

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  3. brian stouder said on December 12, 2004 at 8:25 pm

    Linda, I made the pie also, and it turned out perfectly. I DID foul up at the super market when procuring the heavy cream. Those little containers are 8 ounces, and I knew I needed two cups of it (having a print screen of Nance’s blog in my hands, with the recipe!).

    two cups equals how many ounces? Didn’t know (although come to think of it, my stupid cell phone probably has a conversion calculator in it…) – but I saw that the shredded cheese pouch said “two cups”, and it was 8 ounces…so I erred and only bought one container of whipping cream, and had to go back to the store (fluid ounces as opposed to volumetric ounces….eh?).

    But the project was taken up by the young folks, and everyone loved the resulting pie.

    “I still don’t understand why Indiana allows wine and beer to be sold in grocery stores but the beer has to be warm.”

    A summer ago, we drove down to Mickeyland. Left at 3 pm, and drove through the night (kids sleep, van runs cooler, traffic is lighter [sailed through Atlanta like a shot at 3am ], good all around).

    We stopped for fuel in the wee hours somewhere in Georgia, and they had a big ol’ iced cooler of beer bottles right by the cash register. You could buy an icy cold one (or 10!), and jump right back onto I-75!!

    Offended my Indiana sensibilites, it did!

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  4. Bob said on December 12, 2004 at 8:58 pm

    So, who says beer can’t be drunk warm? Whoever said that can’t be serious about his drinking.

    Mom said her dad made his own beer, and kept it in the basement. He’d open a bottle and take a hot poker from the fireplace and quench it in the beer before he started drinking. Maybe he did it to drive off some of the dissolved carbon dioxide so that he could drink more, faster, without belching so much.

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  5. Jack2 said on December 12, 2004 at 10:53 pm

    Parts of the South Side are still like that to this very day, at least from what my students from there tell me. And the North County kids don’t grow up any different. By the way, where did you go to high school? Jack2

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  6. Carmella said on December 13, 2004 at 7:11 am

    Several years ago we went to a funeral in Ohio with the kids and my sister’s family in a big van. On the way back, we saw a liquor store…a DRIVE THRU liquor store…we drove through, got some cold beer and some snacks for the kids and had a great ride home!!

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  7. Michael G said on December 13, 2004 at 9:14 am

    When my daughter was 12 or so we used to eat regularly at an Italian place in North Beach. Italian in North Beach. That’s probably repetitively redundant. We would wait in the bar for our table. Stephanie would sit at the bar and the old Italian guys would buy her cokes. One day the owner – sunglasses, fedora, cigar and all – bought her a great big teddy bear. Somehow she wasn’t warped by this early bar experience. By the way, there is in Roseville CA a combination gun shop and liquor store. I kid you not. Buy a six-pack and a box of ammo. Come to think of it, those Wal-Mart superstores also stock booze and ammo but not CDs with suggestive lyrics.

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  8. Danny said on December 13, 2004 at 9:51 am

    Bob, that story about your father is hilarious. Thanks for sharing.

    Yeah, Michael, I too live in CA, but I did grow up in a state with blue laws. It just seems weird now when we go avisitin’ our kin-folk in the South. I remember last year being in line at the grocery store on a Sunday. Had a bunch of groceries and a six pack was somewhere in the mix. I walked out of the store, loaded the groceries into the truck and noticed that there was no six pack. The checker had apparently just sat it aside without a word. Probably figured she wasn’t going to waste time explaining the dumb law to a Californian.

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  9. juan said on December 13, 2004 at 11:07 am


    I have to take mild exception. As a guy who grew up as a NoCo boy, and then raised his kid as a SoCo boy, I think the difference is night and day.

    The main difference lies in those “old school” Catholic churches in South City. I mean, not only do they all have BARS in the CHURCH basement, some of them have BOWLING ALLEYS too!

    We had the bingo beer in North County, but it wasn’t on the same scale. Too much cheap competition from the tavern next door. South City used the churches to get around stricter liquor zoning. That’s my guess.


    Hazelwood West Juan. Now where did YOU go to high school?

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  10. Jack2 said on December 13, 2004 at 6:22 pm


    Mary Magdalene on S. Kingshighway and Epiphany on Scanlon still have alleys, I think. Don’t know if there are any others left. St. Mary’s in Bridgeton had a bar a long time age. I went to St. Louis Prep. in Shrewsbury–closed now. My kids went to Hazelwood West Jr. High (home of the Wildcats). They went to CBC for high school; I work there so I guess that counts as my school now. Peace

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  11. basset said on December 13, 2004 at 9:46 pm

    oh, you *can* drink beer warm… the English do it all the time, and you really should drink stout that way at least… but it’s just the idea of it, y’know?

    another Indiana liquor law story:

    long-time family friend owns a liquor store in the SW part of the state not far from the Illinois line. salesman comes in and gives him a clock. clock says Smirnoff’s Vodka across the front.

    state inspector shows up and says he has to either tape over the brand name or unplug the clock.

    well, why, he asks.

    because state law says you can have a moving sign advertising liquor, but not a specific brand.


    I think the clock ended up in the trash.

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  12. ashley said on December 13, 2004 at 9:55 pm

    I always thought that Mississippi liquor laws were victorian because you couldn’t buy on Sunday, but this was county specific. Also, it was 18 to buy beer/wine, and 21 for liquor, and they had drive-thru beer barns.

    In Florida, you had to wait until 1:00 on Sunday to buy beer, at the time when that mattered to me.

    Of course, in New Orleans, it’s 24×7 for anything, anytime. Drive thru daiquiri bars, and it ain’t an open container if they don’t pierce the lid with the straw. Liquor for sale in drug stores and gas stations.


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  13. juan said on December 14, 2004 at 1:27 pm

    Be good to my son there at CBC, Jack2!

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  14. Jack2 said on December 14, 2004 at 6:30 pm

    Juan, Who is he? E-mail me at school buckleyj@cbchs.org

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