I don't know how old we were. I'm guessing we were about thirteen or fourteen. We might have been older. It's a tough call. Don Windisch came with me one year to the Turnbow's at Rose Lake on the Fourth of July. Neither of us drove. What makes this tough to place is that Don and his family moved from Kellogg to New Meadows after Don's eighth grade year in junior high. Or was it after his seventh grade year? I can't remember right now if when Don had the cast on his leg to help something with his knee and he fought Ken Carter in the alley right by the school and right behind the Kamppi's house if that was in the seventh or eighth grade. I think they duked it out over a rubber band. Or was it a spit wad? I know who to call. I'll call Scott:
Okay. The fight was in the 7th grade. Ken thwapped Don repeatedly in the back with a rubber band in Mrs. Anderson's math class. Don grabbed the band. They settled it in the alley. Carter won.
Don moved to New Meadows after our 8th grade year.
I'm going to say that Don came with me to Rose Lake in the summer of 1968. I wondered if he'd ever seen anything like the Fourth of July at Rose Lake. The adults started drinking as soon as they got up in the morning. If it wasn't some brandy in the coffee, then it was definitely moose milk:
Good Canadian Whiskey
Milk (homogenized only - don't use skim!)
Heavy whipping cream (not canned!)
- Beat yolks until fluffy and completely mixed.
- Add the sugar and beat the mixture until thick.
- Stir in the milk and the liquor.
- Chill for at least 3 hours (preferably overnight).
- Whip the cream until good and thick. Don't use canned whipped cream as it will go flat.
- Fold in whipped cream (it will appear as if it has totally thinned out, don't worry).
- Chill for another hour.
- Sprinkle the top with nutmeg and cinnamon to taste (optional).
- Serve (when serving keep chilled because of the raw eggs. Normally this is not a problem, as Moose Milk disappears quickly).
With all the beer and booze to drink, fortunately a lot of absorbant food was also available: roast beef, ham, turkey, and other lunchmeats for sandwiches and lots of chips and crackers and cold cut plates. If a person did it right, it was possible to drink all day, maintain a pretty good feeling of contentment, and not get too sloppy, although a couple or three sloppy drunks always came through and babbled in a thick-tongued language known only to other drunks. I never knew what they were saying.
As darkness fell, the men, Don Bowles, Jerry Turnbow, Floyd Cassidy, and others started to get the fireworks together to entertain the troops from the Turnbow dock. The mosquitoes were pretty thick, so the air by the lake was thick with Off.
This particular year, I did not participate in the fireworks celebration, at least not right away. Don and I had figured that once the drunks rolled down the hill to the lake and vacated the Turnbow cabin that we could easily score some Lucky Lager and Olympia beer and have what would pretentiously be called today, a beer tasting. We didn't want to drink much. We didn't want to be drunk when it was time to drive back into Kellogg. But we did want some beer.
I had never drunk beer in an illicit fashion before. Until this moment, all the beer I had ever drunk had been sipping off the top of my dad's beer when he asked me to go get him a beer at home. I liked the taste of it. A lot. But, I was under very strict orders and the threat of getting my ass kicked by my dad if I started drinking in junior high. I didn't want my ass kicked, nor did I want to be punished the other way he threatened: to go out in the garage and drink, beer for beer. Dad warned me that if he caught me drinking he'd buy a case of beer and we'd see how I could drink. He'd drink twelve and he'd make me drink twelve: "You'll be puking your guts out and you'll learn that drinking this shit isn't all it's cracked up to be, son."
But, Don and I decided to take a chance. We decided to drink two beers a piece. When every one congregated down at the beach, we grabbed two beers each from the ice box and took them across the road and up the hill a ways so that we could overlook what the adults were doing and drink our beer.
We cracked open the first beer and foam covered the lid. We sucked the foam and I took my first sip of the first beer I'd ever ripped off from adults. It was cold and bracing. I belched. Don and I told each other how much we liked being friends. We talked about him leaving and how we'd keep in touch. The beers did just what beers should do: they lubricated our conversation and made a cool Fourth of July evening seem all the more refreshing.
We drank our beers. No adults were in the cabin. We disposed of our cans. We never got caught. We pulled it off. For the rest of the night, as we said good by to all the people who lived at the Lake and as dad DUIed us home, I had that slightly bloated, yeasty, burpy sensation that having a couple of beers gives a guy, and I felt warm and content.
My two beers with Don Windisch did not send me down the road to heavy teen-aged drinking. I did not party with beer much at all in high school until the very end of my senior year. I was still afraid of my father's threats. Once out of high school and once I was legal, at age nineteen, well, I kicked the beer drinking into overdrive.
Don Windisch and I are still good friends. He's married to Jeri Robinson. Jeri's mom and my mom grew up together in Orofino. Jeri's dad and my dad grew up together in Kellogg. It's as if Jeri and I have been friends since before we were born. When Don married Jeri and when I see them, it feels like Don married a sort of sister of mine and Don became very close to being my brother. I know that's not the way it is, but it feels that way -- and that night, on the Fourth of July, Don and I did what brothers do. We stole beer. We drank it. We became closer friends.