Big Trouble in Little Bethany

bubbas2

The only bar in town, which is right across the alley from me (those are my pine trees on the left- although in this town, basically everything is a block away or across the alley), got raided by the ABCC or ABCA or whatever we call the alcohol bureau these days. At any rate, it was wing night so there is no doubt they caught a ton of under-aged drinkers, so, yeehaw, State Police and the ABCC guys! Thanks for probably shutting down the only place in town to get a sandwich!

But what really bothers me is the fact that all they have done is condemned a couple kids to die every year if this bar shuts down. We are in the middle of nowhere, and these kids are not going to stop drinking. Our General Store, the only other business in town besides the bar and the Post Office, does not sell beer. Raise your hand if you think college kids are going to quit drinking.

Now we’ll just get to spend a couple years putting tourniquets on kids legs as we wait for the jaws of life as we peel the survivors out of the car on their way home from Drover’s or a bar in Wellsburg, Wheeling, Weirton, Pittsburgh, or Washington, PA.

You’ve done us all a solid, coppers.

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98 replies
  1. 1
    GregB says:

    Although it would likely result in a short term increase in deaths, I think the drinking age should be 18. You can go to war and vote, you should be able to drink.

    I am also for pretty strict drinking and drugged driving penalties.

  2. 2
    qaug dab peg says:

    Only John Cole could successfully blog “You cops get off my damn lawn!”

  3. 3
    VodkaGoGo says:

    I dated a girl from Wheeling once and her best friend lived in Washington PA. That area is so spread out. Didn’t know you were from Bethany. I could see a ton of kids wrapping their cars around trees.

  4. 4
    KG says:

    There were (still are) two liquor stores within three blocks of my high school. Both, though one more than the other, would routinely lose it’s liquor license for selling to minors. Six months or so would pass and they’d get it back. Then about a year later, they’d be busted. Oh, the memories.

    Aldo, I agree with @GregB, the drinking age should be 18, and it wouldn’t hurt if we were a bit more like our friends in Europe who don’t consider booze the devil’s cider

  5. 5
    Big R says:

    Apologies for OT, but wanted to share the word. Just received word that my top choice graduate program accepted me and awarded me the most prestigious fellowship available. With a supplement stipend on top of the usual. Positive movement, thy name is me.

  6. 6
    Jordan Rules says:

    Yup, drinking age 18. Still problems to solve for sure. Let’s just move a bit farther away from the Puritan farce.

    Also, nice trees.

  7. 7
    Helen says:

    OK so let’s break this down. When I was in college the drinking age was 18. There was a pub in my dorm (in NYC where drinking and driving was not an issue). The age then when up (I think the year graduated – 1985). The drinking age went up in most states in America (from 18 to 21) because drunk dead driving kids. So the Feds tied highway funds to drinking age. If your drinking age was upped to 21 you got highway funds. If not you did not. Only one State said no. Wisconsin, In Wisconsin you can drink at any age. As long as your parent or guardian is in the bar with you can drink.

    Every smart BJ’er; guess which state has the highest alcoholic rate/drunk driving in America. Yeah Wisconsin.

    That being said – YAY legal weed. I am not taking a stand. Really. Talk amongst yourselves.

  8. 8
    Wag says:

    18 has my vote. Even if it’s for 3.2 beer only, like in my childhood here in Colorado.

  9. 9
    koalaholik says:

    @Big R: Congratulations. Onward and upward.

  10. 10
    mattH says:

    Reminds me of this. Hope things turn out better than you think.

  11. 11
    David Koch says:

    You live next to a bar. You should take Steve over and buy him a drink.

  12. 12
    KG says:

    @Helen: if you lived in Wisconsin, you’d get drunk all the time too

  13. 13
    NotMax says:

    A college town and only one place to buy a sandwich?

    Someone with a second-hand food truck (heck, it doesn’t even have to have a working engine) could make a bloody fortune.

  14. 14
    Gex says:

    @Big R: Hooray! Congrats!

  15. 15
    SatanicPanic says:

    I grew up in a town that was small enough to walk from end to end in 20 minutes. Instead of drinking in town though, kids would have to drive out into the country to drink, which, of course, led to a death and/or disfigurement every year or so. I’m not saying teens should be able to drink whatever/whenever they want, but certainly there has to be a better way.

  16. 16
    Big R says:

    @koalaholik: @Gex: Thanks. I’m pretty stoked, and surprised that I got the email at nearly midnight. Back to your regularly scheduled discussion.

  17. 17
    Suffern ACE says:

    @NotMax: Nah. You grab a food truck and start selling sandwiches, the next thing you know, the town labels you a hipster and you lose most of your friends.

  18. 18
    David Koch says:

    @NotMax: who’s gonna buy second-hand food?

  19. 19
    Helen says:

    @KG: BWA HA HA!!!!

  20. 20
    NotMax says:

    @David Koch

    College students will eat anything.

  21. 21
    Big R says:

    @David Koch: It’s the Baby Bird diet.

  22. 22
    David Koch says:

    Dudebros, worried about their right to privacy, unite to defend Upskirting

  23. 23
    NotMax says:

    @David Koch

    They’ll have only themselves to blame when culottes enjoy a resurgence.

  24. 24
    mclaren says:

    Like everyone else, I agree that the drinking age should be lowered to 18. That said, gonna have to play devil’s advocate here.

    So what should the cops do, Cole? Turn a blind eye to underage drinking?

    And what? If 12-year-olds want to drink? That’s fine? 10-year-olds? Five-year-olds?

    The purpose of these drinking-age laws isn’t to save lives, it’s to create a sharp line between the age at which younger people are allowed to drink and the age at which they aren’t, and enforce that line at least enough that there’s a deterrent effect for really young kids.

    We can argue about how strong that deterrent effect really is. An even more productive debate would involve America’s twisted and bizarre treatment of alcohol — compare with, say, France, where really young kids are allowed to drink wine and it doesn’t seem to result in binge drinking or funnel parties. You only seem to get that really pathological kind of student binge drinking here in America, where the whole culture surrounding alcohol is so bizarrely dysfunctional and alcohol gets treated as some exotic special horrible thing instead of just part of life, as in Europe.

    Am I saying Europe has no alcoholics? Obviously not. Get real. I am saying that it’s now common for ERs in hospitals near American colleges to have dialysis units so they can remove toxic levels of alcohol from students’ blood after they come in having gotten alcohol poisoning doing shooters or drinking from funnels or swigging goddamn everclear punch.

    That kind of shit doesn’t go on in Europe as far as I can tell.

    But regardless of America’s warped and dysfunctional attitude toward alcohol (summarized as “Demon rum will steal your soul but if you decide to do it might as well chug-a-lug everclear from a funnel”), we have the culture we’ve got here in the United Snakes of Amnesia, and it’s pervasive. So isn’t it sensible to try to keep really underage kids from drinking by enforcing these kinds of age laws?

  25. 25
    Citizen Alan says:

    If anything, the drinking age should be raised to 25 to eliminate the problem of college juniors and seniors buying beer and liquor for their underclassmen friends. Not that I’m in favor of that because I think prohibition is ultimately counterproductive, but if your goal is to reduce drunk driving, you should start by reducing the opportunity for binge drinking, which is largely a college-aged phenomenon. (Generally, people in their late twenties stop playing beer pong and start nursing their drinks because they have to be at work at 8 am.) All of which is ultimately irrelevant, because if there’s a dudebro constitutional argument in support of upskirt photos, I’m sure there is a libertarian argument in support of everyone’s right to binge drink their way into oblivion at the age of 20.

  26. 26
    J.Ty says:

    @mclaren: Oddly enough, I’m gonna have to side with mclaren here.

    That said, though, “only one bar in a college town where lots of people have cars” is a pretty damn good reason for the cops to fudge the inspections a little bit.

    ETA: Assuming the cops are interested in reducing mortality rates & improving quality of life, lol.

  27. 27
    J.Ty says:

    @Citizen Alan: Frankly I’d rather make the driving age 25 to force a rural transit crisis so severe they’d actually finally invest in some fucking infrastructure.

    In the perfect world where I’m a vindictive emperor, obviously. (NOTE: Said world would be far from perfect)

  28. 28

    @NotMax: I’ve even got a name for the food “truck”:

    CAR IN THE FIELD

    “Don’t Drop The Mustard”

  29. 29
    Helen says:

    @mclaren: OK so. I am very confused. I thought you were mclaren; Troll, LLC. But a few days ago I believe you and I agreed on something and here we are again agreeing.

    Yay???

  30. 30
    Helen says:

    @J.Ty:

    Oddly enough, I’m gonna have to side with mclaren here

    I know, right? Agreeing with mclaren? FREAKY

  31. 31
    Helen says:

    @J.Ty: Can I be your emporissss? Cuz yes. Public transportation is the future. In my world. Of which I am the emporissss. Also? Free education all the way through college.

  32. 32
    kuvasz says:

    If the good Lord gives you lemons……

    Open up a speakeasy.

  33. 33
    🍀 Martin says:

    I’d be fine with drinking at 18 if driving wasn’t a remote possibility. 18 year-olds are already 3x more likely to be in an accident than 25 year olds even when alcohol isn’t involved. Toss in a BAC of .08 and that goes up even further. I don’t want someone with those kinds of odds out on our 14 lane freeways driving something with the kinetic energy of a few sticks of dynamite.

    You want to do that in East Jesus, WV, fine. Let the teenagers kill themselves against the trees. Out here they’ll wipe out some family coming home from Disneyland instead.

  34. 34
    🍀 Martin says:

    Ok, this is how all obituaries should read.

    There will be no viewing since his wife refuses to honor his request to have him standing in the corner of the room with a glass of Jack Daniels in his hand so he would appear natural to visitors.

  35. 35
    Helen says:

    @🍀 Martin: My obit – I guess really my will is gonna say – I, Helen, being in sound body and mind; spent it!! Here’s $2,000 to cremate me. And another $1,000 for you all to get drunk. Love and kisses, Helen.

  36. 36
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    The answer is standing right before us. Pot. While drinking alcohol is seen as a rite of passage, a lot of folks drink for the high. if that’s the case, pot at least spares livers and kidneys and lives.

    Legalize and then allowed limited recreational access to college kids. Beats the alternative.

  37. 37
    Jewish Steel says:

    @mclaren: Don’t the Brits have a similar binge drinking epidemic? I never thought they were as puritanical about the drink as we were. But what do I know?

  38. 38
    🍀 Martin says:

    I’ll add this other photo as well.

    That’s an Infiniti cut in half after the car struck a tree. Killed 5 teenagers. Son of my coworker was supposed to be in that car, but his dad told him he needed to study for the SAT instead of going to the beach. SAT is finally good for something… His girlfriend was in the car, though. 4 of the kids were from the same high school. My son knew a few of them a little bit.

    Another girl from the same school was killed in an accident a few months later. The driver of that car had been drinking and went off the road in Silverado Canyon. He was 19. I think 5 (including the driver) wound up in the hospital. Another car from the same group was in a completely separate accident a few miles away when they swerved to avoid an animal. 3 more teens ended up in the hospital from that crash. I think the toll was 5 dead, 6 hospitalized from 3 separate crashes from one high school over a 4 month period.

    My son has very nearly sworn off ever getting his license.

    So, again, the only problem with a lower drinking age is the existence of cars. Fix that, and I’m on board.

  39. 39
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    John, the law is the law, except when those who get in trouble with it are part of the 1%.

    Then it’s more of a sort of guideline.

  40. 40
    Comrade Mary says:

    Sweden seems to be having some success with their Vision Zero Initiative. From their Concept page:

    The Vision Zero is the Swedish approach to road safety thinking. It can be summarised in one sentence: No loss of life is acceptable. The Vision Zero approach has proven highly successful. It is based on the simple fact that we are human and make mistakes. The road system needs to keep us moving. But it must also be designed to protect us at every turn.

    From The Human Factor:

    People might fail, the road system should not

    The Vision Zero starts with a statement: we are human and we make mistakes. Our bodies are subject to biomechanical tolerance limits and simply not designed to travel at high-speed. Yet we do so anyway. An effective road safety system must always take human fallibility into account.

  41. 41
    Helen says:

    @CarolDuhart2:

    The 2 biggest campaign contributors that are against pot legalization in America are?. The first is kinda obvious. The second? Cynical as shit.

    1. The liquor industry. Yeah obviously. If pot became legal I would never have another drink. Pot has no hangover, lasts 2?? hours and has zero calories. POT WINS.
    2. The second org? Prison guard unions. 800,000 prisoners in America are there because of small amounts of pot. 800,000 prisoners equates to lots of prison guards.

    So once again – follow the money.

  42. 42
    Marked Hoosier says:

    The worst part: The whole bust isn’t about safety at all. It’s about money, from fines and penalties.

  43. 43
    🍀 Martin says:

    @Jewish Steel: The brits now have a binge drinking problem. The 18 age didn’t protect them from that, nor the easy access to alcohol. Mostly they blame the loss of the social stigma of being drunk in public. There may be something to that. My employ doesn’t have a notable drinking problem. Fewer incidents here than at my alma mater which was 1/30th the size (we were a bit of a party school). There’s really no broad culture of it here. Pot use is a bit more common, but not really problematic either. It’s kind of weird – I keep expecting it to develop, but it never does. But there’s a much more pronounced academic culture here than at most schools and we think that’s what’s kept it in check.

  44. 44
    MikeJ says:

    @Jewish Steel: Just as much if not more binge drinking in the UK. Driving is less of an issue. 1 in 5 people in England live in London, so there’s no real need to drive. Driving is overall much, much more expensive, so fewer people do it. Drink driving is taken much more seriously too. Not just by the law, but I think most drivers are more aware and are less likely to do it. In 1997 the US DWI arrest rate was 809 per 100k drivers. [1] In the UK (in 2004) it was 71 per 100k [2]. Yes, all these stats are old. Feel free to find the current rate.

    [1]http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/dwiocs.pr
    [2]http://www.quandl.com/health/cautions-and-arrests-for-drink-driving-per-100-000-licensed-drivers-15-years-all-countries

  45. 45
    amk says:

    @Big R: Congrats.You get the cake and get to eat it too in style.

  46. 46
    🍀 Martin says:

    @Comrade Mary: That was the attitude here in CA (and largely still is) under CalTrans. They invented a lot of road tech to improve survivability, particularly in the 50s, 60s and 70s when CA was growing so rapidly. Things like breakaway signs and light poles, modified K-rails to keep vehicles from jumping medians, road reflectors and raised markers to alert you when you drift out of lanes (botts dots), wider lane standards, shoulder standards, bike lane standards. A lot of the congestion management was developed out here which also helps reduce accidents.

    They’re not quite as good at rolling out innovations as they used to be, but they’re still at it. I’m always a little taken aback at how much different roads are in much of the rest of the country compared to most roads in CA. My city has a very different kind of road layout designed by CalTrans. You never have a business and residence sharing access to the same road. Businesses and retail are almost exclusively on primary arteries. There are multi-lane (2-4 each way) divided, no stop signs, speed limits of 50+. 60 in some places. There are no driveways on these roads except to enter businesses. If they aren’t on primary arteries then they’re in dedicated retail/commerce parks.

    Secondary roads provide access to business parks or residential neighborhoods. There will be no driveways here except into large apartment complexes and schools (fire stations, etc) and businesses in business parks. These are sometimes also multi-lane, sometimes divided, mixed light/stop sign. Speed limits of 40-45.

    Tertiary roads have residential driveways. No schools, etc. Nothing but homes. Single lane, 25 MPH.

    The idea is that you only put pedestrians and children in places where people are familiar with where they’re going (tertiary roads). Secondary are designed to get people out of neighborhoods and provide access to group services – like schools, but also where people tend to be very familiar with where they are and the traffic patterns (you don’t get outsiders visiting schools like you do people visiting retail). Primary are where people from out of the area go, and where you need to move a LOT of cars. You don’t put people here at all – or if you need to, you put footbridges and the like. That’s also for the safety of the cars. With 16 lanes of traffic (4 in each of 4 directions, with 4+ being dedicated turn pockets) plus crosswalks and bike lanes, it’s taxing on drivers to keep track of what everyone is doing (right on red, u-turns, etc) That density of activity leads to a lot of accidents, so we’ve tried to design a lot of that away. But we also have much higher speed limits here than most places do. You can buzz across town at freeway speeds if the lights are working in your favor because you never have to worry about someone backing out of a driveway – there aren’t any.

  47. 47
    MikeJ says:

    @🍀 Martin: Makes walking to the market a bitch.

  48. 48
    Jewish Steel says:

    @🍀 Martin: @MikeJ:

    Interesting.

    What’s that song where they shout “LAGER LAGER LAGER LAGER?”

    Oh, this one.

  49. 49
    🍀 Martin says:

    @Helen: Ahem.

    In April of last year, someone threw a brick through the window of Monahan’s bar, Skosh Monahan’s, and he said he received threats from a mentally unstable Irvine man.
    Recently, he appeared on KOCI radio program “Cannabis Community” to express interest in regulating medical marijuana. Days later, 27 marijuana shops were ordered to close down by federal officials. The Register later found that the City Council and City Attorney asked federal officials to intervene in what the city viewed as a spiraling problem.

    The city council called the DOJ in secret. They never made their meeting minutes available to residents, which was illegal, and they got busted for it. You think the mayor was trying to protect his bar? One of the dispensaries was about 2 blocks from his business. The mayor resigned “due to increased family and business commitments” about 2 weeks after the discovery that the city council violated that state law.

    Uh huh.

  50. 50
    Tiny Tim says:

    CA “survivability” design ensures everybody has to drive everywhere. Might decrease fatalities per passenger mile, while greatly increasing passenger miles.

    Numerator and denominator both matter.

  51. 51
    🍀 Martin says:

    @MikeJ: Not with the footbridge, and a good network of mixed use paths. I mean, we don’t have to cross a single street (not one) to get to the dollar theater, the grocery store, the coffee shop, the kids’ favorite restaurant, let alone the high school, middle school, boys and girls club, several pools and parks, hardware store, bank, etc. It’s not always the most direct route, but when you take out the time needed to wait for crosswalks, etc, it’s not much slower. Our middle-age friends were a lively lot (the group was pretty much wiped out by deaths and divorces last year, save for Ms Martin and I) and riding bikes over to the mexican restaurant for a night of margaritas was pretty routine. There were LOTS of bike crashes and falling into bushes on the way home (with way over .08 BAC) but no roads or cars involved, so no problem other than bangs and bruises.

    Its one of the things you get really fond of after a while. I could send the kids off to the movies when they were 10 and know they could walk there and back without worrying about traffic. $5 got them in and a box of candy, the indie toy store was next door, stop by the lake and feed the ducks, or hang out on the swings at the park, and they’d come back 3-4 hours later having had a great time.

  52. 52
    J.Ty says:

    @Helen: In California in 2010, a lot of the astroturf money against the “legalizing weed” prop came from the medical marijuana industry and their farmer friends who wanted to keep the monopoly…

  53. 53
    J.Ty says:

    I gotta go to one of these BJ meetups some time, I’ll be the youngest old person in the room. (28 going on 60.)

  54. 54
    🍀 Martin says:

    @Tiny Tim:

    CA “survivability” design ensures everybody has to drive everywhere. Might decrease fatalities per passenger mile, while greatly increasing passenger miles.

    If you’re relying on killing people to reduce car use, you’re taking the least efficient path to get there. Shitty roads in Florida didn’t reduce passenger miles. Driving everywhere was an entirely different dynamic. The automakers were buying up the mass transit and killing it, but the state was also growing so fast that we couldn’t build mass transit to keep up. You can pave roads really fucking fast, and it’s cheap. Only buses can match – and you still need to build roads for them.

    Road safety and driving demand are completely, 100% decoupled. We’ve reduced highway fatalities by nearly half in the last decade (mostly due to safer, more predictable cars), and driving miles have declined. The public isn’t even aware that it’s gotten safer.

  55. 55
    Ian says:

    @Helen:
    I always agree with pie

  56. 56
    raven says:

    How illegal is this joint? There are no bars or restaurants listed anywhere for this burg.

  57. 57
    MikeJ says:

    @raven: It’s Bubba’s Bison Inn.

  58. 58
    HeartlandLiberal says:

    The absurdity of a legal drinking age higher than 18 is patently obvious to the most intuitive observer.

    Same goes for keeping maryjane illegal.

    But then clearly the American people are among the world’s best at refusing to learn from experience, and sweeping unpleasant history under the rug.

    Prohibition of alcohol was the trigger that created organized crime in this nation, from which we as a society have all benefited so greatly for the past 90 years or so.

    Our ‘war on crime’ has been a complete failure. And it could be waged so much more easily if we would just legalize marijuana and tax it nationwide. Aside from the fact that doing so would go a long way to balancing the budget.

    But then, there I go again, talking sense and referencing actual history and facts.

    I know, I know, but I grow older and more cynical day by day, and just a few times before the lights go out for me I would like to see some of this insanity stop, not just get worse every day.

  59. 59
    NotMax says:

    @raven

    Put in mind of Hudson & Landry – “Boy, I couldn’t live like that.”

  60. 60
    different-church-lady says:

    So Cole, I’m wondering… did you actually wander across the street and talk to the cops to find out what the raid was actually all about?

    Or did you just apply the same level of cogent analysis you displayed in the lead-up to our invasion of Syria?

  61. 61
    exurbanmom says:

    In Ohio, 16 and 17 year olds cannot drive more than one passenger in their vehicle. the commonality in those accidents listed above, besides a young driver, is a passel of loud kids in the car. the new law seems to be working here.

  62. 62
    Joey Maloney says:

    Rather than drinking those college kids should just hold an aspirin between their lips. If they can’t keep their mouths closed they deserve whatever happens to them.

  63. 63
    Keith G says:

    @🍀 Martin: I agree.

    I thinks folks are forgetting the bloodletting going on in so many communities as 18 year olds in large numbers were able to drive home from their legal drinking events.

    I was one too. And since 18 was legal, old looking pre 18s (like me) had a good time – and a dangerous time..

  64. 64
    raven says:

    @MikeJ: Thanks, Google maps only seems to do street view on Main in Bug Tussle.

  65. 65
    Bobby Thomson says:

    Fuckin’ Liddy Dole. It’s inexcusable that 18-year-olds aren’t allowed to drink legally.

  66. 66
    srv says:

    No drinking age and intoxication locks on any ignition a kid has access to. Can’t have your car on campus w/o one.

  67. 67
    gvg says:

    I mostly agree with mcclaren (wow) but Europe is a bunch of countries, some of them with much more serious drinking problems. England and Russia off the top of my head. 20+ years ago my parents hosted an exchange student from Norway who described draconian drunk driving laws that people reacted to by having overnight drinking sleep them off parties which seemed practical but does not imply they were moderate drinkers.

    Cops can’t ignore the laws. that way lies corruption. If you really don’t think the law is right you have to get people to agree and change it. I happen to think there are bad results either way and I am slightly more inclined to think the drinking age should stay up. The only argument against it that I agreed with was the old enough to enlist (die for our country) and the significance of that lessened with the end of the draft.

  68. 68
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Helen:

    Only one State said no. Wisconsin, In Wisconsin you can drink at any age. As long as your parent or guardian is in the bar with you can drink.

    Every smart BJ’er; guess which state has the highest alcoholic rate/drunk driving in America. Yeah Wisconsin.

    Wisconsin raised its drinking age just like all the other states. Wisconsin also does not lead in alcoholism/alcohol abuse.

    @gvg:

    The only argument against it that I agreed with was the old enough to enlist (die for our country) and the significance of that lessened with the end of the draft.

    Old enough to vote. Old enough to sign a contract. Old enough to be tried automatically as an adult. Etc.

  69. 69
    Gopher2b says:

    @GregB:

    I would go with 19 because too many HS seniors are 18 (can you imagine being their parent trying to convince your kid not to buy his friends booze).

  70. 70
    khead says:

    @J.Ty:

    It’s also a pretty good reason to attend another college.

  71. 71
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @🍀 Martin:

    That entire obituary is wonderful! I do hope it’s legit, and not something that’s eventually going to be debunked in Snopes.

  72. 72
    kindness says:

    I understand I’m an outlier here. When I grew up the drinking age was 18. If you can get married, sign contracts, go to war and get killed for your country at 18 you should be able to drink at 18. Yes I understand having the drinking age higher will save a life or two. If that is the logic that impresses you then let’s set the drinking age at 65. Why not by that logic it would save a whole bunch of lives.

    You see, when I was young, there was no illusion by my parents generation that high school/college kids wouldn’t drink. The expectation was they would. The message at that time was to be responsible when drinking. Don’t drive if you’ve drunk too much. Be careful when drinking. That is how it should be still.

  73. 73
    Tractarian says:

    Oooh, is this another one of those View From Your Window Contests?

  74. 74
    cmorenc says:

    The small town in southeastern North Carolina where I grew up was “dry” (no liquor or beer legally sold anywhere) until after I graduated from college. NEVERTHELESS, the existence of a “bootleg” establishment on the edge of town where anyone (most especially high school students under the age of 18) could purchase beer-to-go was such a widely known fact as to not even qualify as an “open secret”. It wasn’t a commercial establishment at all, but rather simply the house of a Lumbee Indian man who kept a large refrigerator on his back porch stocked with Bud and PBR which he sold for 2x what the retail price was 33 miles up the road in Fayetteville. Keep in mind that the era in question (the 1960s) was WAY before any sort of political correctness regarding Native Americans – none of us knew the real name of the proprietor; his customers universally referred to him as “Cochise”. It was definitely NOT the sort of place his WASP customers hung around any longer than necessary to conduct the brief transaction – you drove up his driveway and around to the back porch, flicked your lights or gave a brief, discrete toot on your horn, he or his son would come out, you’d tell them how many beers you wanted, hand him the money (correct change preferred), he’d promptly walk to the fridge and back out to your car with the requisite number of beers, you’d say “thanks” and take off; you did not get out of the car.

    To my knowledge, neither the police nor the sheriff’s office, nor the state ABC ever raided or shut down Cochise, even once – and Cochise was open for business for many years in a town of just shy of 20k people where it would be impossible to keep such an operation secret from anyone, most especially the police, for even a week. The only thing that eventually shut “Cochise’s” operation down was when towns closer and closer to ours went “wet” and eventually (sometime in the late 70s) our town itself. That said, none of us WASP kids got to know Cochise personally, in part this was because not-so-unspoken racial barriers still existed then (Robeson County was and still is a tri-racial county where whites are a minority, and back in the days of segregation government buildings maintained THREE separate sets of bathrooms and drinking fountains.) And we WASP kids knew better than to provoke or mess with the Lumbee Indians – not a healthy-wise thing to do back then.

    Even though none of us had any idea what “Cochise’s” real name or surname was, it’s a good bet it was either “Oxendine”, “Sampson”, or “Locklear” – the curiously Elizabethan English-style surnames of the overwhelming majority of Lumbee Indian families in the county (and virtually no caucasioan families there) which provoked speculation that the true fate of the “Lost Colony” up at Roanoke Island on the Outer Banks was that they abandoned the settlement and joined Indian tribes in order to survive, and migrated somehow to Robeson County.

  75. 75
    mcmullje says:

    Drinking really is such a problem but our ways of addressing it are a bigger problem. My granddaughter goes to the Colorado School of Mines – she’s smart, sweet and follows the rules. She was working in a restaurant as a waitress (earning money to pay her tuition) and on a crazy busy Friday night didn’t check an ID closely enough and served beer to an undercover cop. She was instantly fired. Can’t tell you the humiliation that caused her as well as the expense of a lawyer and court fees. Ridiculous!!!!!!!! Makes me angry just thinking about it! What the hell purpose did that serve?

  76. 76
    Bill D. says:

    My friend used to live in a dry county in KY. People would drive to the county line, get their booze, drink it in the vehicle because they couldn’t wait, then drive home. Great way to minimize problems from alcohol.

  77. 77
    divF says:

    @mcmullje:
    It is a constant source of amazement to me that when I go into a bar in Colorado, I get carded – 21 is about 40 years back in my rearview mirror, and there is no mistaking just looking at me that I am not underage. But apparently, that’s the law there.

  78. 78
    chopper says:

    @Helen:

    i’m on break from the CIA internet paTroll, so i’ll also agree with mickey L.

  79. 79
    chopper says:

    of course, given that a drunk driver just plowed into a crowd of people at SXSW, it’s kinda bad timing.

  80. 80
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Jewish Steel:

    Don’t the Brits have a similar binge drinking epidemic? I never thought they were as puritanical about the drink as we were. But what do I know?

    Yes, the British do, particularly the English and to a lesser extent the Scots and the Welsh. But it’s a particularly British thing and not otherwise prevalent on the Continent among the Germans, French, Italians, Spanish, Dutch, etc. But then again, the English have always, deep down, had a strain of being a bit hysterical and out of control (you don’t develop a stiff upper lip culture unless you have something to repress).

  81. 81
    LAC says:

    @Helen: I know, right? When I was through rolling my eyes at Cole’s latest, I am agreeing with mcclaren. WTF?

  82. 82
    Paul in KY says:

    @Big R: Congrats! Now kick ass in that program.

  83. 83
    Paul in KY says:

    @Bill D.: Back in Central KY, before Lexington started selling on Sunday, you had to drive I-64 to the ‘Blankenbaker Line’. That was the interchange outside Louisville for Blankenbaker Road and on the Louisville side of that road, beer was sold on Sunday. Made that trip several times back in the day with various alcoholics.

  84. 84
    Marc says:

    @Keith G: I grew up with an 18 yr old drinking age. Less emphasis on getting wasted. And you can enforce, or not DUI laws with any drinking age. I’ll choose “don’t encourage contempt for the law” over “write unenforceable laws”, thank you very much

  85. 85
    Mnemosyne says:

    Given the way the driving laws are already going, let’s flip-flop it — drinking age 16, driving age 18.

  86. 86
    Chris T. says:

    Hey, kid, you’re 18! Here’s your driver’s license, and also you can drink now! Oh, and, the bars close at 2 AM, but the public transit shuts down at midnight!

    Good luck!

    Seriously though, this country has some very stupid combinations. Raising the drinking age is probably better than having everything happen at age 18, but it seems to me to make more sense to phase things in the other way around: drinking first, driving later.

    And can we please have lots of public transit around when the bars close?

  87. 87
    Glocksman says:

    There are 2 things in this country that you have to be 21 to do.

    1. Drink alcohol.
    2. Purchase a handgun.

    Gun control debate aside, I have no problem with the age requirement for purchasing a pistol*, because most 18 year olds aren’t quite ready to carry a pistol.

    As for alcohol, I have yet to meet ‘responsible’ 18 year old drinkers.
    That’s not to say they don’t exist, but I haven’t met one.

    When I was a bartender, the owner was emphatic about checking ID’s and refusing service because he said that quite frankly any money he’d make from the additional business would be wiped out and then some by the first fine the ABC leveled.

    Consequently my sympathy for the bar owner is quite small.

    *Oddly enough, you can legally own a handgun at 18 but you can’t purchase one.

    After my ‘chemical free’ HS graduation party in 1985, a classmate got beat up and robbed outside the place.
    Later that week, his parents bought him a .38 revolver and took him downtown to apply for a carry permit.
    In Indiana, the age for a carry permit is 18.

  88. 88
    NobodySpecial says:

    I have a problem with one thing in this post.

    But what really bothers me is the fact that all they have done is condemned a couple kids to die every year if this bar shuts down. We are in the middle of nowhere, and these kids are not going to stop drinking. Our General Store, the only other business in town besides the bar and the Post Office, does not sell beer. Raise your hand if you think college kids are going to quit drinking.

    What, they all live at the bar? Or did they fucking drive there? Make up my goddamned mind about the roads being full of drunk toddlers.

  89. 89
    BethanyGrad says:

    @NobodySpecial:

    They walked asshole.

  90. 90
    Jennifer says:

    I am a mother of one of the Bethany children who frequent that bar and I agree w you 100%! I do not approve of underage kids drinking. However the ability to walk to this bar saves many lives. College kids WILL drink and this may lead to driving. Drinking and driving is always dangerous but add in that these are inexperienced drivers and on those roads! Sometimes we need to look the other way. The number one killer of teenagers isn’t a bottle it’s a steering wheel!

  91. 91
    Potter says:

    The brain is not fully mature to make rational decisions until 21 (or after in many cases); the younger you are, the less ability you have to rationally discern between a choice and it’s outcome. Sad, but true, that’s why it’s good to have whatcha call “adult supervision”, parents, etc. to keep an eye on you, until you are capable for making your own choices. Parents are quick to release their college, high school, or even younger children and allow them to raise themselves relatively unsupervised, whether it be ignorance, selfishness, or some other reason, unfortunately the human species needs their parents a little longer than many in society would like to admit. Prayers for those who “almost” die or put others at risk regularly due to lack of supervision, as not everyone is so blessed, or makes it out alive, and those who don’t make it can’t go back and get a redo due to the ignorance or selfishness of others. Be responsible peoples; you only get one try at this thing called life/parenting.

  92. 92
    Jim says:

    Maybe we should stop enforcing all laws. I mean criminals aren’t going to stop stealing or hurting people, doing drugs or abusing children. So let’s just make it easy on them. Keeps slapping your guard dog in the face for barking at strangers and it will eventually lick your killers face. Grow up and stand up for something that is right, not something to make you sound young and hip.

  93. 93
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    It should be 18, learning to drive should be expensive and a challenge (and not tied to grades) and colleges should have campus bars.

  94. 94
    Bethany dad says:

    I am a parent of a current student at Bethany. One of the appeals of this school was the local bar. I don’t live in a glass bubble and completely realize that my college kid would drink. I loved the fact that they didn’t have to

    drive those dangerous twisty roads, now made more dangerous by large fracking trucks, to drink. I drank at 18 and in college. I realize it is illegal now, but college kids are going to drink. They can vote, die for our country and marry and have kids. Let them at least have a beer.

  95. 95
    Charlie says:

    Being a college student myself, I see how terrible my peers act when they are intoxicated under the influence of alcohol. I believe the drinking age should be raised because so many of these people are SO IMMATURE and don’t realize what they are doing to themselves. It honestly makes me sick to see guys my age take advantage of these young girls when they are really drunk. With drinking and college comes sex, period. And when you’re all gooned up, is that safe sex? Is that even really consensual? I see these girls not even being able to speak and then getting plowed by peers of mine and they then have the “walk of shame”. I don’t think a lot of you parents realize what goes on nowadays. It’s not good, it’s really disgusting. Like I said there are a lot of girls who consent to the sex and do it with multiple people over the course of the evening. But there are a lot of girls who get taken advantage of and it is really disgusting how these dudes do this. I am a guy myself, but what fun is trying to get with a girl who can’t even stand up or talk? That’s what happens OH SO FREQUENTLY!!! Open your eyes mommy and daddy, your daughters are getting taken advantage of and being 18 to 21 they are, for the most pArt not all, but very immature. 18 is way too young to drink and I’m 21 and I believe strongly that people my age are still too immature to drink. I hope this gets some of you parents thinking because your daughters are getting passed around like little sluts and it’s not good. I’m not trying to offend anyone at all, I’m just a college student and speaking the truth. I’m being real and it breaks my heart and disgusts me so much that my generation is like this.

  96. 96
    Charlie says:

    @Bethany dad: Being a college student myself, I see how terrible my peers act when they are intoxicated under the influence of alcohol. I believe the drinking age should be raised because so many of these people are SO IMMATURE and don’t realize what they are doing to themselves. It honestly makes me sick to see guys my age take advantage of these young girls when they are really drunk. With drinking and college comes sex, period. And when you’re all gooned up, is that safe sex? Is that even really consensual? I see these girls not even being able to speak and then getting plowed by peers of mine and they then have the “walk of shame”. I don’t think a lot of you parents realize what goes on nowadays. It’s not good, it’s really disgusting. Like I said there are a lot of girls who consent to the sex and do it with multiple people over the course of the evening. But there are a lot of girls who get taken advantage of and it is really disgusting how these dudes do this. I am a guy myself, but what fun is trying to get with a girl who can’t even stand up or talk? That’s what happens OH SO FREQUENTLY!!! Open your eyes mommy and daddy, your daughters are getting taken advantage of and being 18 to 21 they are, for the most pArt not all, but very immature. 18 is way too young to drink and I’m 21 and I believe strongly that people my age are still too immature to drink. I hope this gets some of you parents thinking because your daughters are getting passed around like little sluts and it’s not good. I’m not trying to offend anyone at all, I’m just a college student and speaking the truth. I’m being real and it breaks my heart and disgusts me so much that my generation is like this.

  97. 97
    Charlie red says:

    @Citizen Alan: @Citizen Alan: Being a college student myself, I see how terrible my peers act when they are intoxicated under the influence of alcohol. I believe the drinking age should be raised because so many of these people are SO IMMATURE and don’t realize what they are doing to themselves. It honestly makes me sick to see guys my age take advantage of these young girls when they are really drunk. With drinking and college comes sex, period. And when you’re all gooned up, is that safe sex? Is that even really consensual? I see these girls not even being able to speak and then getting plowed by peers of mine and they then have the “walk of shame”. I don’t think a lot of you parents realize what goes on nowadays. It’s not good, it’s really disgusting. Like I said there are a lot of girls who consent to the sex and do it with multiple people over the course of the evening. But there are a lot of girls who get taken advantage of and it is really disgusting how these dudes do this. I am a guy myself, but what fun is trying to get with a girl who can’t even stand up or talk? That’s what happens OH SO FREQUENTLY!!! Open your eyes mommy and daddy, your daughters are getting taken advantage of and being 18 to 21 they are, for the most pArt not all, but very immature. 18 is way too young to drink and I’m 21 and I believe strongly that people my age are still too immature to drink. I hope this gets some of you parents thinking because your daughters are getting passed around like little sluts and it’s not good. I’m not trying to offend anyone at all, I’m just a college student and speaking the truth. I’m being real and it breaks my heart and disgusts me so much that my generation is like this.

  98. 98
    baparent1 says:

    You parents should be a shamed of your self’s. Your the types that clean out your kids rooms and make an office out of it when they leave for college. For I agree with Charlie with drinking comes sex and think about how many times you yourself woke up in the morning and thought what have I done ! Go a head let your kids pass around STD’S , use drugs and be immoral , for in the end this is a reflection of you and how you raised them . Good job . If your child raps there car around a tree after going out drinking then got in a car , that’s on you too . REMEMBER this when your claiming there body . You made underage drinking acceptable. I only pray that god will keep the other drivers safe .

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