The Pittsburgh Press (August 23, 1941)
I DARE SAY –
The brewer’s horses
By Florence Fisher Parry
It was one of those hot, humid days when the midday sun seems to lower in the sky and hang even with the roofs of the buildings. They were tearing up “our” street downtown, and it was exciting to watch the men work. They knew what they were doing. They followed up with trained precision, not a minute lost anywhere.
The men were sweating, the sweat ran down their faces like tears. They must have been thirsty. I couldn’t help thinking what it would have meant to them if a big brewery truck had driven up and stopped and doled out drinks to all of them, and then passed on. I’m on the mind that whatever brewery it was, that product would have been the beer of these men henceforth.
I’ve been looking at the brewery ads on the billboards. They’ve all gone over to the beautiful girl. There’s not a hardworking man to be seen. Sex has taken over.
I’m sorry about this. One of the nicest things about the repeal of Prohibition was the fact that now the working man could cool off with a long draught of beer, the right amount of salt to replenish the body after a long salty sweat in factory and mill. It was comparatively harmless. It was cheap. And most important of all, it quenched the thirst better than anything else on earth.
So for a while we had nice appropriate masculine advertising accenting all this. Occasionally, beer was advertised as a family drink, a gentleman’s drink, and youth was left to the soft drink dispensers.
Now? From every billboard, newspaper and magazine ad, a beautiful girl smiles out at you over her brimming glass of beer. Between drinking every brew of beer and smoking every brand of cigarette. Miss America gets little time for anything else, it would appear from the ads.
There is another note introduced: the Penrod note. Junior is seen drinking beer with Dad. Now here I do draw the line. Surely the brewers can spare Junior to the soft drinks? It will be soon enough that he discards them!
Personally I wish there could be something managed among the brewers and the legislators whereby the “growler” of yesterday could be returned to the family. There is a large consumer public that still holds out stubbornly for draught beer – beer on tap – and will not be appeased by the product of the bottlers and canners. The difference between bottled beer and tap beer is the difference between velvet and sandpaper, to a lot of old-fashioned family folks who still have the taste of the growler on their lips and it seems too bad that a way cannot be provided for them to enjoy that simple pleasure of sitting in their own dining room and drinking their fill out of the big pitcher sitting there in the middle of the table.
Then maybe the American taste for beer-as-it-should-be-drunk would return, and there wouldn’t be all of this hard liquor-drinking. Most bottled and canned beer is ruined by being drunk ice cold after having all the life and flavor frozen out of it by remaining in refrigerators indefinitely. Beer as it was drunk in Germany and, yes, in America before Prohibition… was a comforting beverage to be drunk slowly and sociably, and always merely chilled a little – never ice cold.
That was one of the charms of the growler: it was a gentle thirst-quencher, a comforting food, the most welcome of all beverages, a household drink. Would that it could be returned to that normal and pleasant place in the home.
America has become the biggest liquor-drinking nation of the world. But its consumption of wine and beer is but a fraction of what it should be. On my various visits to California, I saw practically no wine drinking, and very little beer drinking. Cocktails were everywhere the order of the day. In New York City, there is practically no call for beer or wine, and in most metropolitan centers the same thing obtains.
Into how many homes do you go, dear reader, where you are offered an mild wine or a glass of beer? Compared, I mean, with the hard liquor which in one form or another is concocted for your pleasure? Yet we have vineyards to compare with any in France or Italy, and brewers whose formulae have been guarded secrets handed down for generations.
Particularly now, with the whole of Europe dislocated, the beer of Germany slop, and the wines of France and Italy blockaded from the world, America’s opportunity to develop its own industry in this field is superb and should have the support of our people particularly those of us who deplore the excessive hard-liquor drinking which has given us the dubious distinction of being the most drunken of all the peoples of the earth!
To me, the ideal state would be one in which all our young could be kept on strictly non-alcoholic beverages until they have attained at least their majority; and for the others of us, a freer and more normal use of light wines and tap beer, confining stronger spirits to the supreme medicinal use for which they are so needfully adapted.
Wine drinkers and beer drinkers and seldom if ever drunkards… And there is oblique commentary in William L. Shirer’s remark that he observed more drunkenness in Berlin than he had seen anywhere except America.
They have been deprived, there, of their beer…