I had my first beer at a barn dance at age 11

Growing up during the Depression years, McCulloch County was dry’no alcohol and very few ready rolled cigarettes. The first beer I ever saw was at a barn dance on Perry Sneed’s place when they opened their new barn. I was about 11 years old, and they had beer in a wash tub. I sneaked one out and drank it. Kind of liked it, too. As a teenager, we would go to Eden to Joe Stukey’s or J.R. Hill’s place. One of the older guys would buy the beer, and we thought we were nine-feet tall. Then we found a bootlegger in east Brady. He was Charlie Bum-gardner’s father. He sold us wine for 75′ a quart. After the second time, I was so sick I never wanted wine again. Johnny Farris also sold alcohol but not to any of us who were under 21. One time we had 18 bottles of beer, and we bet a dollar that G.W. Young could drink nine of the bottles before someone could pour nine bottles out on the ground. G. W. won, but he lost in that he couldn’t walk home. We tried anything our parents said don’t do. This included things like smoking or drinking alcohol. Mother wouldn’t let any alcohol in our home. Some of the oldtimers here would make home brew. I never had any but saw some. They said it was ready when you took the lid off and it would pop and blue smoke would go up. For cigarettes we would smoke cedar bark, grape vines and Duke’s mixture. I never could roll one, but in high school I got a cigarette roller and used Kite tobacco. We would find an empty cigarette package and carry them in it. During high school the A&M Cafe would sell us a cigarette for a penny. At the time they were about 20′ a pack. Then in the Air Force they were 10′ a pack. Since I can’t drink anything anymore, I have thought about putting a drink in my stomach tube. At least no one would smell it on my breath. On some of these hot afternoons a mug of cold beer and a cigar still sounds mighty good.

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