In today’s article, I am going to tell a story of when I was waiting to turn the legal age for drinking alcohol. Which, at the time was 18 years old. So we will have to take a trip back in time.
The Magic Of 1985:
This will be our first stop on our trip back in time. I was 17, a rocking teenage buck. It was the year when I had one more year to go to be able to purchase beer legally. You see back before everyone became so sensitive, the legal drinking age was eighteen years of age. I know hard to believe, is’nt it? But I assure you, I am not lying.
I can still remember sitting on the front porch, talking to my brother. The plans we had, once I was able to buy beer. That’s all we could think about, the parties we would have. And all the beer we could drink. And we did not have to worry about what our parents said. Except for the fact that I would be giving alcohol to a minor. My brother is two years younger than me. But I was not worried about it, All I wanted was to party with my little brother before I left for basic training, for the united states Navy. In the meantime, we did what most, not all teenagers did. We found someone who was older than us, to purchase the beer for us. Fortunately I knew plenty of older guy’s and gal’s who were willing to purchase the beer for us. Well as long as I had the money to pay for the alcohol. Let’s continue this magical mystery tour, with our next stop.
That’s right, you guessed it, the grand year. I was turning eighteen, in a few moths. I was finally going to be able to legally purchase alcohol. Well at least that is what I thought. But would’nt you know, the government had other plans. Like always legislature was screwing with the plans of my life. A few months before I was to turn that magical number eighteen, the government of New York state decided to change the legal drinking age to twenty-one.
You can probably imagine how heart broken I was. Here I was getting ready to graduate from high school, and head out into the great big world, and become a United States sailor. The change in the law, meant plans had to change. At least the party plans had to change, or so I thought. Even though, New York state changed the legal drinking age Vermont did not. And Bennington was a short drive from where we lived. However, getting caught coming back to New York state with alcohol in your vehicle, was a severe crime. Not a risk I was wiling to take.
Departing Is Such Sweet Sorrow:
Sorry we are still in 1986, a lot of things happened for me in this year. First there was high school graduation, usually a time to celebrate. Don’t get me wrong, it was a time to celebrate, it was also a time of sorrow for me. In a few short weeks I was leaving home and everyone I love. I am start my life, going in the navy.
Okay we are getting there, a couple of days after graduation, my mother comes to me and says that her and my dad ( step father ) are going to throw a party for me. A combination of graduating and going away party. Little did I know, that they went and bought two whole kegs of beer. Yes you were able to buy whole kegs back then. Now this party lasted two days, right up to the night before I left for basic training. So you can picture the good time we all had.
1987 A Year To Forget:
Yes that is right, I said a year to forget. And I will tell you why, by this time I had made it through basic training. I was given my first duty station, Yokuska Japan. To serve aboard the Uss Midway, first the navy sent me home for ten days of liberty. Standard procedure for a service member being sent overseas far from home. Remember, I am still not old enough to legally drink alcoholic beverages. This, however did not stop my stepfather from handing me a beer. He said if I was old enough to serve and perhaps die for my country, I was old enough to have a beer or two with him.
Time for me to head over to Japan, and start my navy career. Here is where I should mention, that we are still in the year 1986. And I am still eighteen years old, and in a foreign country. You see where I am heading with this now, do you not? I was able to legally drink beer, as well as any other type of alcohol. I did not have to wait to turn 21 to legally drink. You may be asking yourself, why does he want to forget the year 1987. Let me tell you why.
In 1987, I turned 19 years old, I was still in the navy serving overseas. On one of our liberty ports ( time off the ship, free time ) I went up to the flight deck for morning roll call. I was given a job for the day, as I am going to get the tools that I need. My supervising petty officer calls me to office. I go to the office, and I am told to go to the chaplain’s office. Not so great, I thought something had happened to my brother. Once I arrive at the chaplain’s office, he asks me to have a seat. He then tells me he has some bad news. I am sorry son he says, your mother has passed away. We are sending you home to be with your family.
I get home, and the first thing my uncle Lester does is hand me a cold beer. Keep in mind I was only nineteen years old at the time. Back in the United States, where 21 is the legal age to drink alcohol. Lucky for me, I had friends and family who were willing to supply me with alcohol.
Time In A Bottle:
After the funeral, I returned the Uss Midway. There was nothing worth staying home for now. My stepfather convinced me to go back, he said that work was hard to find in our area. That sealed the deal for me, I will go back, and finish out my time. Plus going back overseas meant that I could legally drink. And drink I did, I was always close to my mother. Loosing her, and not being home at the time of her death, killed something in me. For several years after her passing, I crawled into a bottle, and stayed there. I never came out until I got out of the navy, came back home and married my lovely wife.
At least by that time, I was over 21 and legal to drink. which, I hardly did anymore. It is my belief, that getting married saved my life. I want to hear from you, questions or comments, are always welcome.
Please drink responsibly, and do not drink and drive. Love always
Sincerely John J. Denekar II God bless.