December 18, 2021
Reflections, Day 18—Beer, Epilogue
“Some birds are not meant to be caged, that’s all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. So you let them go, or when you open the cage to feed them they somehow fly out past you. And the part of you that knows it was wrong to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live is that much more drab and empty for their departure.”
― Stephen King, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption
I was astounded by my mental picture of being that 17 year-old boy looking up to see the furious looks on the faces of five of his teachers—one of whom held a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer can in his hand.
I said, “My God, Ronnie, what in the world did you do?”
Ronnie took a drag from his Marlboro.
He had a distant look in his eyes, and he was smiling.
Well, I got sent to my room and told to show up at the President’s office at nine o’clock sharp the next morning.
“Daddy taught me to do as I waqs told, so when the President said, ‘Ronnie, Please, please tell me that this is the first and only time that you put beer in the coke machine.’
I hung m;y head and said, ‘I promise that this is the first time that I ever in my life put beer in the coke machine. Then I got creative and said, ‘I just don’t know what got into me, sir. I’ve always tried to be a good boy.’
The President said, ‘Thank you, Ronnie. The other teachers and I talked about it and we decided that you’ve been a model student and made good grades, and it’s only two months until you graduate. We also decided that we don’t’t want the publicity that would go with this, so we decided to give you another chance. You will have to walk a straight and narrow path, though, or we will kick you out without a diploma’”
I just shook my head and said, “Wow. How did you get from that opint to where you are now?
Ronnie said, “Well, I had saved up a bunch of money. A few months after I graduated, Durwin County changed regulations to allow convenience stores to sell beer and wine. Likker was still banned, so I took my money and my daddy’s signature and bought a convenience store right outside the city limits. I stocked a lot of good beer varieties at decent prices and the people came and bought.”
“What about the Bottle Barn,” I asked.
Ronnie said, “Well, Uncle Mitch helped me with that. There was an old barn nesxt to the convenience store that I had bought. Uncle Mitch said that we needed to be inside the city limits and he talked to some people. Next thing I knew, the city limits got extended out to take in the barn. It was like magic.
“Then Uncle Mitch helped me to get just the right kinds of likker and we made the barn real nice inside. The people kept coming—a bunch of them were the rich boys I went to the Academy with. We kept everything above board and legal, too. The barn got bigger and bigger and the inventory got better and better. It was like magic.
He laughed, “I always tell people that my success in life began with a career e.ploration experience at Durwin Academy.
That was the end of his story.
Photo by Bill Cox who went to great lengths to research beer brands just for me. Thanks, Bill, I know it was a sacrifice.