Half a Juice Glass of Beer

half a juice glass of beerMy Dad did not drink much alcohol — a small glass of wine with Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, a brandy slush with company on a very rare evening. Seldom was there any booze in the house. Beer? Maybe if my parents were hosting a family gathering and my uncles were expected guests.

Dad knew that alcohol would not help his stomach — he had an ulcer or the potential for one. So he did not drink routinely. But on a hot July day, after a particularly long, hard bout of baling hay, my Dad would drink — half a juice glass of beer.

During college I spent my summers home on the farm. One summer day in the early 1980s, we had started baling right after the morning milking. The whole crew of us had been involved, in the field, on the bale wagon, in the hay mow. When we went into the house for noon dinner, Dad took his place at the table. Mom was finishing the last-minute preparations for the meal. That is when my Dad asked me to pour him “half a juice glass of beer.”

Slightly shocked by his request, I found a stray can of beer in the refrigerator. I poured half a juice glass for him, and I believe I drank the rest. What sticks out in my mind is that half of a juice glass of beer that my Dad had. And that was it, that was all he had, for the entire summer.

I haven’t baled hay in 30 years, but I do drink beer. And on a hot July day, I just might raise half a juice glass of beer to my Dad.

Laura Sternweis


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