Saturday, October 6, 2007

To Hicksville and Back


In the 60's, the age of drinking varied throughout the United States. Some states like Indiana the legal age for buying and consuming alcohol was 21 like it is today throughout the entire country. Others states extended legal drinking to those 18 and older. Still other states, like Ohio had a strange law that prohibited youth from 18-20 to purchase or imbibe so called hard alcohol but permitted those youth in that age bracket to drink something called 3.2 beer also called near beer by some, which is a beer with lower alcohol content of 3.2 % by weight as compared to a more hearty 6%.


I have lived in Indiana my entire life, but I grew up in Fort Wayne, where I lived 18 miles from the Ohio border. Since Indiana had more stringent drinking laws, Ohio became a mecca of legal drinking for Hoosier young adults. In 1964 approaching my 18th birthday, a good friend Pat, and his girlfriend, Carol, offered to take me to Ohio on my birthday to celebrate turning 18 with a legal drink. (At the time, my boyfriend, the future Daddy D, was at Indiana University in Bloomington diligently studying calculus and organic chemistry.)


So on the night of my birthday, Pat, Carol, and I were off to Ohio for our birthday adventure and my first legal drink. From the northeast side of Fort Wayne, the nearest Ohio saloon was in a town called Hicksville. As the three of us entered the first tavern on the road, there were only men sitting at the bar. One of the bar patrons, said something like, "Hey look, fresh meat." , or some other derogatory term apparently referring to the two young and innocent females that Pat brought to the drinking establishment. Patrick, a pacifist, wisely decided that a celebratory drink of watered-down beer was not worth some kind of bar fight in which he was sadly outnumbered.


Therefore, we returned to Fort Wayne to Alexander's, a pizza place, to celebrate my turning 18. As I remember, we did attempt to order a drink at Alexander's, but we were asked for identification to prove our age. Thus, I celebrated my 18th birthday with two dear friends without alcohol.


I do not remember visiting Hicksville until this summer some 43 years later. On July 7, Daddy D drove through the small Ohio town on our way to our nephew's wedding in another nearby Ohio town. I was pleasantly surprised that Hicksville is an idyllic little village not a town with streets filled with dives as I falsely remember. I would venture to guess that Hicksville residents never enjoyed the youngsters from Indiana coming to Ohio for a night of drinking. Having a name like Hicksville is probably a big enough burden.

19 comments:

Robocop said...

On my 18 birthday, my mom, an immigrant, still thought that the drinking age was 18, so she was nice enough to fulfill my birthday party wish list.

gawilli said...

It was 21 when I became of age. In this area kids went across the line to Illinois where it was 18. On my 21st birthday I drove down to the corner liquor store to make my first purchase, driver's license in hand. I was so disappointed that I was not carded, I asked if they wanted to see my license. The older man behind the counter stood up, straightened out his shirt, and said "Ma'am, may I see your identification, please?" He wished me a Happy Birthday as he handed it back. Another rite of passage.

Beccy said...

The legal drinking age is 18 here but I have to admit to partaking in more than the odd drink when younger and I was never asked my age.

willowtree said...

Everything is 18 here, drinking, voting and joining the military. It always fascinates me that you can fight and die for your country at 18 but you can't have a drink in it. Seems to me that if they lowered the drinking age, they'd get a lot more recruits.

Debs said...

Nice post. I was 23 or 24 when I had my first "drink". I never had a desire to drink. I do drink occasionally and I know my very low limit.

I grew up in a very small town with protective parents. Yes I had a sheltered life.

mjd said...

Willowtree - During the Viet Nam War when the voting age was 21, people were concerned in the US that young men could be sent to war without having the chance to vote for the folks making the decision to wage war. Now at least, soldiers can vote for the commander-in-chief. I am not sure that the drinking age should be changed, but you might be right about the recruits.

Margaret said...

Before they changed the drinking age, Washingtonians went to Idaho(why WSU was so popular with many of my high school classmates.) Failing that, we would head to Canada at 19. I don't have many fond memories of turning 21; my younger brother died the day after, so it was a time of great sorrow and not joy.

TLP said...

Yes, the name is a burden!

The age to drink was 21 when I was young. I had no interest in drinking at all. Had my first drink at about age 23. Never did understand what the fuss was about. I'd just as soon have a coke.

Tom & Icy said...

That brought back memories I hadn't thought about in years. I, too, turned 18 in 1964. You have a nice blog here. Thanks for the memories.

Lynne said...

I always wondered where Hicksville was. Now I know.
:)

swampy said...

Drink! Drink? Did someone mention a drink?
Maybe that's what I need.
I had been married 4 years before I was "legal" to drink.

Pamela said...

when I was a kid Washington had 21 of age, but IDAHO was 18.

The troopers sat at the border - believe me!

I had a small child when I was 21 -- and I celebrated with ice cream. I still don't drink much.

daddy d said...

Hicksville was a nice town to drive through. It probably would be fine to live there, if one were to have live there as a child or some other age than 62. Would I want to move there now? No, it is not close enought to grandbabies and their families. Stiil, it is a nice small town.

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