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Memoir – Draining, Spraying, Stealing, and Hiding Beer

These are the collected memories of my spent and misspent youth. Names have been
changed as some of the people involved now live respectable lives and I would
hate to sully their reputations. At times I will take liberties as in who did
what, or maybe combine a couple of stories together that really didn’t happen
together. I am seeking to entertain, not write a documentary. Hope you enjoy

Draining, Spraying, Stealing, and Hiding Beer

Old Style Coaster

I am going to come clean – we drank some beer during the teen years. I can try to justify it – “it was a different time”, “we just didn’t have the awareness we have now”, “it was more accepted”, “we were bored”, “it was there, who else was going to do it?” – but it doesn’t make it right. But it did happen, and it did generate memories.

Draining – The Sandwich Fair officially kicked off the social season. Each year, right after school started , the fair went on during labor day weekend. Harvesting wasn’t really  going yet but much of the summer farm work was done. Great time for a celebration. The fair was also one of the few times you could mingle with kids from other schools. This didn’t happen much otherwise, towns kept pretty much to themselves for the most part. Anyway, we (when I say we, I know it was at least Cisco, Hymie and I, but I think there were others involved) met some people we knew and heard about a party out in Somonauk. We followed our new friends out there to find a small, quiet gathering of teenagers. We doubled the size of the party and tripled the noise. This little party has a fresh case of beer in the fridge, and we had brought along a 6 pack. We turned the music up, chatted the girls up, and managed to drain all the beer in the house in under 45 minutes. When it was dry, we left.

Spraying –It was winter and we had gotten a hold of two cases of beer. We had no place to store it, so we kept it in a cooler in the trunk of my car (’73 Sprint/Duster, trunk so big I could sleep in it comfortably). The party season was a bit weak that year, so we had no place to use it up. Over Xmas break we went to a basketball game. At halftime, we had the bright idea to go out and down a beer or two. Hymie, Spanky and I headed out to the car. We each brought a beer in from the trunk and we say three wide on the front seat. For some reason, we did the one-two-three- Open! ritual, making it so we all opened at the same time. Big mistake. The beer had partially frozen, when we opened them, they sprayed all over the windshield, the dash, the front seat, and us. We piled out of the vehicle and into the school parking lot, sprayed in beer. Not to be deterred, we laughed and took a long drink of our beers. Beer that has been through temperature changes gets skunky, and skunky does not taste good. Then it dawned on me that the remainder of the beer in the trunk was also bad. Fortune smiled at that time, as a couple of sophomores came by and asked, “Hey, you guys got any beer to sell?” We made them a hell of a deal, and $10 later they walked away happy.

Stealing – It was summer and our beer sources had dried up. We kept a multitude of sources, older siblings, older friends, girls that looked older… but we had come up dry this warm night. We heard about a small party a guy was having since his parents were out of town. The rumour was that he had scored quite a bit of beer. He was not part of our regular group, more of a rival crew of good timers. While we were not antagonistic with each other, we did travel in different circles. But, they had beer and we didn’t. Something had to change. We devised a plan. Three of us, with girlfriends, went to the front door. Girlfriends was critical, since their girlfriends would talk to our girlfriends and give us an excuse to be there. The door opened and the talking started. Soon, everyone was out on the front porch having a good old talk. At this time, the remainder of the crew snuck around the back of the house, went into the kitchen and liberated two cases of beer from the fridge. Once we got the all clear sign, the guys out front made noises that we wanted to leave, so the nice little talk broke up. Thirty minutes later, we were out at Buef’s house, sitting around a bonfire and drinking some nice cold beer.

Hiding – This was the year after high school on Xmas break. The first time we were all back together again since summer, and New Years Eve was to be our big time. Beav’s parents would be gone all night, so we had the blast there. It was cold and snowy that year. The New Years Eve temp was expected to be in the teens. We, being older, were more experienced and efficient at acquiring alcohol. We had a lot to be exact, and there were probably 20 of us at the party. We were having a great time, until around 1 am when a car pulled up in the driveway and Beav yells “It’s my parents, hide the beer!” We quickly organized a line of people who emptied the fridge and hauled the coolers out the back door. A few of us stayed inside to explain the cars out front. Beav’s dad was in the bag and his mom was feeling pretty good. They rambled through the house, on some unknown errand, but they made it clear that they would be leaving again. 20 minutes later, as they were headed out the front door, Beav’s dad yells out “We’re leaving, won’t be back until morning. You can tell everyone out back they can come back in. They’re probably getting a bit cold!”

I still say it was a different time then. Today, someone would snap a picture of this activity, post it, and kids would get suspended or worse. I feel bad for kids now in some ways, they don’t have as much room to make the little mistakes that helps to develop the judgement to avoid the bigger ones.

Memoirs – Two Toilet Paper Tales

These are the collected memories of my spent and misspent youth. Names have been changed to both protect the innocent and to subvert any statutes of limitations that may still apply. I will also take liberties with the truth as in who did what, or maybe combine a couple of stories together that really didn’t happen together. Such is the nature of a memoir. I am seeking to entertain, not write a documentary. Hope you enjoy

Two Toilet Paper Tales

Yes, the great teenaged tradition of throwing TP up into people’s trees until they all look like great ghostly willows. Like the after party view of the house in “16 Candles”. Only none of the houses where we grew up looked like that one. Our houses were of a much more modest nature, they were closer together,  and we didn’t have any streetlights. So, an organized group could hit several in a night with only medium risk of getting caught. Having one’s house TP’d is a weird feeling, very contradictory. At first, you feel a bit victimized, like you have been singled out for something. Then, when you later talk about it, you realize that it is less victimization and more like legitimization. Someone went to the trouble and took the risk to stand around and throw stolen (we would raid the supply closet at the McDonalds on Douglas. They never locked that thing and always had a lot on hand. The closet was right by the side door. One could get a cheap burger, walk around the corner grab a case of TP and walk out the door unnoticed. Theoretically that is.) TP in the dark. They cared that much. Then you got a little cranky when you had to clean it up. Particularily if you had a parent jawing in your ear the whole time about “your friends leaving this damned mess in the yard….”.

The first tale involved the whole gang. Yes, the same crew of rocket surgeons that executed the “mass mooning of the church youth group” during the summer (please see archived entry). Now, my memory is failing, so I do not recall at all where we were or who’s house was getting the treatment. But there we were with rolls and rolls of TP carousing about in the front yard of this house. We weren’t even being  subtle about it, such was the arrogance of small-town high school seniors. It was a dark night in the fall, a cloudy night that made it all the darker. A car pulled up out front with the light off. Then it turned on the pretty red and blue lights on the roof. We all stopped and turned. Hmmm. Didn’t exactly plan on this. The officer turned off the lights and got out of the car. It was, at the time, Oswego’s only female police officer. “ I saw the cars parked on the other block and thought I recognized one of them, and I knew he didn’t live around here. Mr. Bueford, are you here?” Buef had a ’64 Malibu, candy red, loud and air shocked so it rode high in the rear. This officer had pulled Buef over several times, but had not been able to give him a ticket yet. He kept the bumper height exactly at the right level and never did burn outs in town, despite others trying to goad him into it. Anyway, yes, Mr. Bueford was there. “I’m here” he said. “How about all you boys get to cleaning this mess up while I speak with Mr. Bueford. Unless, of course, we should start calling parents…” We hastily started cleaning while Buef had his conference with the officer. All went fine, she wanted to talk to him about another kid with a hot car she thought he might know. We clean up and left. The next night, we decided to go out TPing. Why, you ask? Well, it was a nice night, and we had all that TP still in our cars to work with….. So we are mid way through another masterful work, when up pulls a car with the lights off. Then it turned on the pretty red and blue lights on the roof. Hmmm. This feels eerily familiar. The officer gets out and walks up to us. “I got a report of a bunch of kids vandalizing a house….oh. It’s you guys. Tell me, is Mr. Buef here?” We cleaned up again and gave up on TPing for a while.

The second tale has to do with my house. It was late fall, past the point of cool when it was getting downright cold. (Isn’t it weird how forty degrees can feel so damn cold in the fall, but when it hits forty in the spring you rush to put on shorts and break out the Frisbee?).  My doorbell rings at night during the week. That never happens. I answer it and there is my girlfriend. We had been dating maybe a bit over a month at that point. We had gone to Homecomming and as far as I knew everything was good. (just a side note, as a guy if you are in a relationship and you think everything is going good, you can be assured that it isn’t). Let it also be known that I was rather hooked on this girl. Then out of the blue she shows up on my doorstep just to talk. I let her in and we talk for a while in the entryway. I was so damned impressed that she came to see me. Overwhelmed in fact. We flirted and made small talk for maybe ten minutes. She talked a bit to my mom. Then she left. My mom told me “Watch out for her Scott, I don’t trust her. She works way to hard to be liked.” I rolled my eyes and started back downstairs as my mom went to the living room. “Maybe she just really likes me Mom. Maybe it’s important to her that she makes a good impression on you?” Mom crossed the living room to the front window. “Why did she say she stopped by?” “Well, she said she dropped one of the other cheerleaders off and stopped on the way back to her house. She wanted to see me” I answered.  Those last words were pretty strong for me. I found it hard to believe and at the same time was really proud of it. “Well, before you get all full of yourself, you may want to check the front yard.” I walked back up the stairs and opened the front door. The one tree in our front yard looked like someone had dipped it in stringy white icing that slowly leaked all over the yard. There was barely a green surface to be seen from the street all the way up to the house. Yes, she had occupied me and my mother while her henchman whitewashed the yard. Impressive. Impressive and intensely humbling at the same time.

Memoir – Up on the Roof

These are the collected memories of my spent and misspent youth. Names have been changed to both protect the innocent and to subvert any statutes of limitations that may still apply. I will also take liberties with the truth as in who did what, or maybe combine a couple of stories together that really didn’t happen together. Such is the nature of a memoir. I am seeking to entertain, not write a documentary. Hope you enjoy.

Up on the Roof

The famous answer to the question “Why did you climb the mountain?” is “Because it was there.” I get this, I understand it. Sometime, you are inspired/cursed/compelled to do something just because you are. During our nighttime walks, we became cursed. If we saw a way to get on a roof, we had to do it.

First was the elementary school. This had been done before by others, but was a good way to start. Landscape designers (if they existed back then) and architects design with aesthetics in mind, not miscreants. The school was a sprawling single story building with long halls and lots of glass windows as most ’60s built schools were. They planted crabapple trees a regular intervals along each side of the school, only 6 or so feet away from the building. Crabapples have pretty flowers, grow in interesting shapes, don’t get too big, and are hearty. I get why they used them, but they didn’t really think like a kid. First, to grade school kids, crabapples are handy projectiles. Kids like to throw things, but everyone knows you don’t throw rocks (except into water, or at skunks, or at windows in abandoned houses, or… nevermind). A Crabapple tree is a bounty of a couple of thousand things to be thrown that are definitely not rocks. And, if you are lucky enough, you find one that is still solid enough to throw but rotted enough to explode on impact. Landscape designers and architects have forgotten this. They also didn’t anticipate those trees growing higher than the single story building by a few feet. This meant that one could climb the tree to a certain point, grab the edge of the roof and haul himself up on the roof. From there one had a pretty good view of the whole school yard, could find several Frisbees (remember those?), utility balls, and other things that land up there unexpectedly. We also learned that they rarely locked one of the access panels leading inside. We never went in, not interesting enough.

Second was the strip mall down by Rt 25. The part with the barber shop (the Yankee Clipper, how wonderfully old school that place was even back then) had a little courtyard with a couple of trees in it. These trees grew up above the roof. You know the rest. It was not all that interesting though. The area was busy, lots of cars going by all of the time. The biggest problem though was the lights on the building and in the parking lot. Impossible to move around without risking being seen. A second target was the Civic Center. There were two ways up 1) The trees around front or 2) the fence. The sloped sides in that building were deceptive. It looked like it would be easy, but they were steeper than they looked and the tree wasn’t as sturdy as it looked. The fence on the other hand was perfect. All the way to the roof and easy to climb. About half-way up though one realized that the lights around the pool made the climber about as subtle as  a tarantula on a white curtain in the sun. The Civic Center remained unconquered.

The third was a set of objectives – houses. First issue, find an empty house. You could not be on the roof of a don l. dise built house without everybody inside hearing your every little footstep. Lack of insulation and wide roof support spacing made the attic spaces more like resonance chambers. Second, you needed a way up. Surprisingly few of the houses had trees close enough to use as a means to get up. They probably charged too much for a tree for most people to go for it (remember this is the distant time before big box home improvement stores, back in the time where home improvement was though of as work, not home improvement). But, this was the age of the CB radio, poor TV reception, and more than a few HAM radio operators. Easily 15% of the houses at that time had a huge triangulated antennae alongside the house. Custom made for climbing. We used one to get on the roof, then found that a window was open so we got inside the house. It was empty, the people had moved. A completely empty house in the middle of the night creepy enough to make us leave quickly. The last house we tried had one of these antennae. We were sure the house was empty, as no lights were on and it was still early (9pm or so). We climbed up, Cisco first, then me. Child’s play, and a nice view. As Hymie was halfway up, a light went on right in front of him. We saw it and started loud whispering for him to get down. He looked up and said “ She’s getting in the shower…”. We knew he probably wasn’t leaving his perch.  Cisco started down, hoping to just climb around Hymie. He got around and to the ground. I went on next. Let me explain that of the three of us, I was the best well fed. Cisco wasn’t 100 lbs on his heaviest day, and Hymie only tipped the scales around 115 or 120. I on the other hand was past 135. Evidentially, the weight limit for the mounting hardware for the antennae was rated for Cisco+Hymie, not Hymie+Me. After three steps down, the top mounts started to squeak and pull out of the house. Hymie looked up at me in panic “She’s about to get undressed! Can’t you *&^%$ wait?”. Then the mounting bracket in the middle started to pull out. Hymie swore at me, my family, and every generation before me and scrambled down. I carefully climbed down and jumped off about halfway. Hymie has never forgiven me for that.

Memoir – Hot Buns and Cold Gravel

These are the collected memories of my spent and misspent youth. Names have been changed to both protect the innocent and to subvert any statutes of limitations that may still apply. I will also take liberties with the truth as in who did what, or maybe combine a couple of stories together that really didn’t happen together. Such is the nature of a memoir. I am seeking to entertain, not write a documentary. Hope you enjoy.

Hot Buns and Cold Gravel

I don’t know how far back mooning goes, but I can assure you that it reached an artistic peak in the spring of 1983. I know because me and my pale pudgy cheeks were there.

We grew up with a huge advantage in the mooning arts compared to today’s youth. We had 70’s family cars and farm trucks.  Big bench seats, wide windows, loud horns, tailgates and truck beds. We also did not have cell phones with cameras or seat belt laws. Both of which have led to a sad decline in mobile mooning. With a little bit of practice, one could hoist your ass to the window and sit on the edge while travelling in less than 5 seconds, then get your pants back on and be in the seat in another 5.  Deed done, evidence covered up. All the risk was tied up in the time of exposure. Gas was cheap, the weather was good and we had a lot of time to kill. So, finding targets and shooting the moon became one of our regular activities. It was fun, but in order to really achieve, we had to do something new.

The “gang” at this time was at its peak. We were known as the Alphonse gang, or the Alphonse racing team. Yes, we did have a race car and it was raced. That is another story. There were the three of us from the Beer Throne story, Hymie, Cisco and I as well as a cast of characters. Boss, Buef, Frito, Beave, rounded out the guilty. There were maybe 4 others that were implicated, but we were the basic gang. 7, much like the deadly sins. In retrospect that analogy probably makes me “gluttony”, though we all could qualify for “lust”. We were seniors, we had two months of school and were getting the most out of it.

The gang found out about a “party” that one of the church youth groups was having at a house in the country. Oddly enough, none of us were members of this (or any) church youth group, but we knew most of the kids that would be there. In fact, a couple of the girls had been foolish enough to date some of us.  I only hope that the youth group helped them to wash that bit of sin from their souls. That night we resolved to go out there and do something. When you are 18 that constitutes a meticulous plan.

I got to use my mom’s full size Blazer that night. All in all, they are not as useful as they seem, but still we could fit a lot of people in it. We met out at Buef’s and piled into the Blazer. We had all 7 of us, it was a tight fit. A couple of miles out on Wolf’s Crossing, then right on the road that had been just freshly graveled. As we drove past the house a couple of times, we saw that the party was outside in the large front yard. Good sign. We stopped and honked. A couple of girls came out to talk to us, but they were quickly  called back in by the parents. The parents also yelled at us to leave. We rolled down the road and around the corner. I opened up the tailgate to the Blazer and we managed to fit 5 of us on it, each holding onto the flimsy roof rack. One driving and one on shotgun. I was on the tailgate. We turned back around and headed down to the party, with the horn blaring as loud as possible. The crowd moved towards the street just in time to get a 12 bun salute – two sticking out of the passenger window and 10 on the tailgate. We were laughing, the crowd was laughing, possibly the greatest mooning event of the year. I’m not sure what I would think if I saw 5 guys on the tailgate of a Blazer with their pants around their ankles today, but that day it was magic. Funny thing though, there are not that many places to get a good handhold on the back of a Blazer. Another funny thing, is that gravel roads out in the country can be deceptively bumpy. Boss was the first to slip. I felt his hand brush my shoulder just as he let out an “Oh shiiiiiit!”. Then we hit the bump and two more Mooners hit the gravel. I held on, but fell to the floor and yelled to stop the truck. I looked back and Boss was waddling towards the truck, bruised, bloodied, and desperately trying to get his pants back up. Beave and Frito were pulling themselves out of the ditch, wary of ticks or chiggers. We ran out to grab Boss and headed home.

No broken bones, or even abraided netherbits. Boss had some impressive scratches  on both ends, seeing as he rolled a bit after falling off. Beave and Frito had minor bumps. But what we all had was a story. The great moon of ’83.

Memoir – The Beer Throne

ImageThese are the collected memories of my spent and misspent youth. Names have been changed to both protect the innocent and to subvert any statutes of limitations that may still apply. I will also take liberties with the truth as in who did what, or maybe combine a couple of stories together that really didn’t happen together. Such is the nature of a memoir. I am seeking to entertain, not write a documentary. Hope you enjoy.



 The Beer Throne

As our senior year approached we felt the need to do something significant, something with meaning. In today’s world, that would refer to making a positive impact on the community through some sort of charitable works. In our world, semi-rural Illinois in 1982, it meant some show of authoritorial defiance combined with fun. Through the summer we gave it quite a bit of thought, hell we weren’t doing much else with our time. We knew that it was tradition to TP the school before homecoming. That was nice, but as far as we were concerned, it had been done. We wanted something different, something inappropriate, and something memorable. Inspiration doesn’t neccesaruly come when you call, but you needed to be ready when it hits.

 The three of us (Hymie, Cisco and myself) were trying to find a place to throw away a case of empty Old Style cans. Too big to hide in any home garbage and we weren’t about to dump it out in the country. Our 70’s grade school environmental indoctrinations had been quite effective.  We pulled up behind the Buy Rite Supermarket  intending to use their dumpster for the deed. We slowed down, but something did not feel right. Hymie was driving. He always insisted on driving. Control freak. We decided that we were just too exposed so we passed on the illegal dumping and headed back to my house. We sat in the shop room in the garage pondering our situation. The room had an electric space heater, a garbage-picked lazy-boy chair, a console TV converted into a cooler, a radio, a bunk to sleep on and a workbench. It was a great place to bullshit or sleep one off. Hymie held the case and he commented that it was kind of like a lego without the bumps. (The case in question was really heavy cardboard, nothing like the materials today.) While I didn’t actually see the light strike, I did notice his face begin to glow with an inner light. We’d been friends for 6 years, I knew that something great or dangerous, or both was about to happen. He proceeded to dump out the cans, then duct tape the case shut. I protested at the cans all over the floor, but he held up a finger and said “I have an idea”. He hid the case behind the Lazy-boy as I put  the cans in a garbage bag. He turned to Cisco “where is the garbage pick up tomorrow?” Cisco replied “East village, the newer section” without even thinking about it. Long ago we figured out that people put their garbage out the night before it is to be picked up. In our sprawling housing development, there was garbage out each night of the week somewhere. When we were younger we used to ride our bikes and check out the garbage looking for what we considered good stuff. Over the years it had yielded many, many treasures including the Lazy-Boy, two 8-track players, lots of 8-tracks, a couple of lamps, and one smoking black velvet painting. Garbage picking was one of our oldest traditions.

We took the bag full of cans and went back out to Hymie’s ultra small car. In the East Village the houses were pretty close together, so the garbage can per block number was high. Hymie drove slowly along scanning each can. He stopped, hopped out, rushed up to a garbage and pulled out an Old Style case. He dumped the garbage from inside the case back in the can and slipped in his bag of cans. He came back to the car with the empty case. He looked at both of us and smiled his excited 6 year old smile. “We are going to build a throne out of Old Style cases!” To three high school seniors, the beauty of the idea was self-evident. It was not a question of should we, or could we. It was a question of where to stash it, and how big to make it.

All through the rest of August and September we picked garbage every night looking for cases. The house at the top of the hill on Fernwood Drive was good for one case every week. Brand loyal I guess. Overall, we could find maybe two per week. We also spread the word that we were looking for cases, so friends would bring us their empties. Our laundering of party evidence helped out more than one panicked high schooler. All in all, were getting about three cases per week. It wasn’t without risk though. First, where do you hide them? The shop held the majority of them, under a tarp in the corner, but I had to keep tabs on my mom so she didn’t wander in there and get snoopy. Second, homeonwers in our working class neighborhood did not take kindly to people messing around with the garbage. More than once we had a homeowner come barreling out of his front door, not quite dressed but holding his beer, yelling for us to get the hell away from his garbage. One night in late September the guy on Fernwood really helped us when he put out two cases. As we slowly drove by I leaned out the window and grabbed the cases. Only I didn’t realize that they were full of garbage. At the same time, Hymie hit the gas because the porch light on the house flicked on. So, I am hanging out the window with 30 lbs of garbage in each hand and I cannot get back into his ultra small car. He turns one corner then another, all the while yelling at me “Get your ass back in the seat, I can’t see out that side!” As we rolled by a court (like a culdesac but not as deep) the bottom of the cases gave way leaving a trail of garbage along the road. The headlights from a car in the court flicked on and it started after us. We were sure that it was police. Hymie pulled over. The car pulled up next to us. Smoke billowed from the window. (smoke with that particular acid-sweet smell that will forever define the 70’s . Wink, Wink). A head poked out. “What are you dudes doin? What’s with the garbage? It ain’t cool!” I recognized  him and the driver as two guys who graduated last year. “The stuff fell out, I didn’t mean to do it. We just wanted to cases.”

“Is there beer in them still?”

“No, were are building a throne out of beer cases for homecoming”

They looked at each other. “Cool. You are gonna pick up the garbage.”

As we picked up the garbage I realized that these two were sitting across from the house of the passenger’s ex-girlfriend. Sitting, smoking, and drinking. We didn’t have a word for it then, but today you would call him a stalker. I was at their wedding several years later strangely enough.

The gathering went on through October. Somehow, Hymie managed to convince his parents to let us use the garage for the final assembly. I just think they were happy to see him doing something remotely constructive. Half a mile of bailing wire and a few thousand feet of duct tape later we had a throne. On the TP night, we set it up at the main entrance of the school for all to see. The next morning the school was a buzz about the TP job, the excellent string of bras/panties that was strung up the flagpole, and the Old Style Throne. Mission Accomplished.