Schlitz And Me

“Schlitz returns, drums up nostalgic drinkers”

That’s the headline I read a few weeks ago in an article about the return of Schlitz beer and it DID bring back memories for me. My late dad, when he was a drinker, used to drink Schlitz early in my life. Later he became a Budweiser (The King of Beers) man, but when I was young it was common to see bottles of Schlitz in the refrigerator or ice chest during fishing trips in the Keys. And seeing a picture of those bottles belonging to “the beer that made Milwaukee famous” in the article I was reading brought back my connection to that brew.

You see, Schlitz was the first beer I ever got drunk from drinking, and it was LONG before I was anywhere close to being of legal age to drink.

As the story goes, I was just old enough to be toddling around when my dad and his brother sat down in the living room one Friday night to talk, watch TV and share a few beers. My mom was working in the kitchen (this WAS the late 1950’s after all) so after they emptied their first bottle each, my dad asked my mom to get them a cold one. I was a helpful child, so my mom gave me a bottle and told me to take it to my dad. Apparently, when delivering it to him, I made some indication that I would like a sip and when my father gave his permission, he and my uncle laughed as I made a face of revulsion at the taste. They then promptly forgot me and turned their attention back to the TV and talking with each other.

But, like most sons, if my dad did it I wanted to do it come hell or high water or even revolting taste to a toddler’s tongue. So, as the two of them watched TV and talked, unnoticed I toddled back and forth between them, taking sips from each of their bottles. Soon, my toddling became stumbling into walls and furniture and my usually quiet blabbering became even more incoherent and punctuated by cackles of laughter. Drawn by her usually quiet son being so loud and boisterous, my mom stepped into the living room to see what was going on and, after a few moments of astute observation declared, “James, that boy is drunk!”

And a good laugh was had by all, especially me.

Everyone soon figured out what had happened and after that I was never allowed to sip beers with the guys again. But Schlitz and me, well we had it going on early on.

“Bartender, give me a Schlitz!”

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