Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Drinking in New Jersey and other Diversions

 Since I was now earning a decent amount of money, I purchased a bar for our apartment. Somehow we had come to believe having a well-stocked bar in your place was the height of sophistication. It was a status symbol of success. Our bar was very well-stocked with a large variety of booze, Wild Turkey Bourbon, Bacardi 151 Rum, Smirnoff Vodka, Crown Royal Whiskey, Dubonnet, Galliano and many more. I had several mixology books and by the time we were high up in Cherry Hill Towers getting high, I had gotten a handle on making cocktails. Back in Philadelphia at the Commodore I almost killed Lois one night.
Lois’ drink of choice was a Manhattan, so this particular evening I decided to make her one. I had bought a little cocktail kit. I took the shaker and added some ice. I opened a book I had and read the recipe. It said use 8 parts whiskey to one-part Vermouth. I wasn’t sure what that meant, so I assumed a jigger constituted one part. I added in 8 jiggers of whiskey and one jigger of vermouth. Dashed some bitters on top, put on the lid and shook that baby up. I poured it out into a glass and she drank it down.

Talk about woozy drunk. She staggered about and announced she felt sick, then headed into the bathroom to throw up. There was a loud crash and I hurried after her. She lay upon the bathroom floor where she passed out after falling head first against the toilet so hard it cracked the tank.

 We didn’t see them quite as often, but we did continue getting together with Bill and Grace weekly for our usual evenings of cards and drinking and listening to Bill pontificate about harapozoids. These were sometimes raunchy, but never oozed over to any group sex affair.

Besides the Stones, we still got together with Joe Rubio occasionally.  These were more on the order of normal suburban life, cookouts and cocktails and a lot of chit chat about jobs and trips.

Wayne and Bunny were out of the picture. It helped us split with them when we disappeared across the Delaware River into South Jersey, new address, new telephone number and not long after, a new employer. We certainly never had a nude Bunny at the front door or heard from them again.

At the my employer, Welder Tube, I met a fellow who would become a close friend for most of the next decade. His name was Victor Ernest and he had originally immigrated to the USA from St Lucia. He had a interesting accent. Lois thought he sounded like Grover, one of the Muppets on Seseme Street.
 He had been with the company for a few years in the position of Cost Accountant. His grade was above mine of Assistant Bookkeeper when I started. Yet in a few months our roles became reversed. He was still the Cost Accountant, but I was now his boss. He had no difficulty with the situation for the most part, although he preferred to keep it quite that I was his boss, even pretend it wasn’t so. Despite this, we become close friends and he remained such for the next several years. We were together a lot, certainly at work, but socially as well. We began playing tennis every lunch hour, putting up a makeshift net of string between lamp posts in the parking lot. We also took up golf and played every weekend. Sometimes we even got together on weekends and played tennis on a real court.

We were just average weekend golfers. My best score at a full-sized golf course was 95 at the Westwood Country Club in Woodbury, New Jersey.  This Club allowed the public to play their course. It was a lovely course. We were playing there one time when a sudden thunderstorm came roaring in overhead.  It was something of a dilemma as we were on the far back end, a long way from the clubhouse and any solid shelter. Mostly this was open field. They tell you not to stand in an open field during lightning, but the only thing around was a solidary tree, but they also say don’t stand under a tree in a storm either. All we did was walk a bit of a distance away from our bags of metal clubs.  I’m here writing this, so obviously we survived the incident.`
 Usually we played at an Executive Golf Course, called the Golf Farm. An Executive Course had nine holes, but two cups cut into each green. You played the nine, then played them again but to a different cup to make your 18-hole course. We played here because the green fees were pretty cheap and Westwood's were pretty steep.
The golf farm bordered right up against a private country club. One day as I came along the fairway near the drive into that club, this guy stopped along the side and took his club and some balls from his trunk. He began driving them directly into the Golf Farm course, darn near hitting me. I yelled at the jerk, but he kept hitting his drives anyway. Finally, he got in his car and continued on to the country club parking lot.
One time we were playing a round at The Golf Club when we came up behind two women. Instead of just waiting for them to finish a hole, we suggested playing as a foursome. After the first nine, Victor headed to the rest room and one of the women also trotted off somewhere. After chit-chatting with the pretty dark frizzy-haired lady with a spectacular figure, she suddenly suggested we go to her apartment, which was just down the road she said. , She would make us a lunch. Then she began to tell me her husband’s business kept him on the road for long stretches and he was away and how lonely she was. I turned her down on her offer of lunch and the other two returned and we finished the back nine.
I had taken the lady’s offer at face value, just a lunch thing. When I told Lois about it later she gave me a look, shaking her head. “You are so naïve,” she said.
As far as my scores, I didn’t measure my improvement by those. I measured it by how many balls I loss. When we first began we would lose several, either in the water hazard or in the rough. Eventually I reached a point where I was finishing with the same ball I started with and then I felt I was really improving.
Victor particularly hated to lose a ball anywhere. They cost money, you know, and he was a bit tight. He would tramp about in the woods or roughs for a long time before giving up on a ball and if he couldn’t find it he was unhappy. I might look about a bit if I lost a ball, but was willing to continue with a new ball rather than spend time searching. I preferred playing.
Psychologically the worse hazard was the water hazard. The Golf Farm had a lake you had to tee off over. The distance you had to clear was usually easily carried on any other hole, but staring at the water drained away one’s confidence and more likely than not, we would drive our ball straight into the water. Victor really despised this hole. On one occassion he sunk ten straight balls into the water where they disappeared forever. (Actually, they weren't lost forever. There was a guy who came around with a snorkle and fished all the sunken balls from the bottom, which he then sold to golfer for a low price.) Victor and I eventually went to a driving range and bought a bunch of used balls floaters. These balls did not sink. They floated about like strange round white fish and you could sometimes fish them out of the drink. I carried in my bag a special tool for just just a thing. It had a cup at one end and a telescoping handle that could be extended out about ten feet. 
Vic was kind of obsessive-compulsive. He lived by a pretty rigid schedule. He couldn't get together on Tuesdays because this was laundry day. He was fanatical about his appearance and festidious in his grooming. He would arrive at work and head right to the men’s room where he would wash up and fuss with his hair and beard, even though he had showered and groomed himself at home. He often spent 45 minutes in this ritual.
His pride and joy was his yellow Porsche 914. He used to park it right next to the office along the driveway instead of back in the parking lot. He didn’t want anyone parking near him that might ding or scratch his baby.

The structural steel tubing was fabricated in the long building behind the offices. Flatbed 18-wheelers would come in through the front gate, turn up the drive and deliver these great coils of steel to the plant. These coils were very large and very heavy. One day we heard a loud thud just outside the offices. We ran to the windows. Somehow as a truck turned onto the drive, the restraints gave way and one of these giant coils tipped off the side. It made a large dent in the driveway macadam and only missed Victor’s little car by a couple of inches. He never parked along the drive again. Better a couple of dings than a pancaked car beneath a steel coil.
Victor had a girlfriend named Marsha, who he eventually married, so the four of us, he and Marsha, me and Lois, did a lot of things together, but there was no sex involved in this relationship. There was still drinking at his parties.

That was a mainstay of our socializing throughout the early 1970s, parties and plenty of booze. Victor’s parties never got as drowned in the stuff as at Bill and Graces, no one got falling down drunk. We mainly loosened up and spent time singing and laughing. The guitar Victor is playing was mine, but he actually knew how to play it.
We were to continue reveling with this group of friends from 1973 to the fall of 1975 when something would happen that changed everything in my life. I had met Joe Rubio in 1967 and he was still a friend in this period. Victor Ernest became a close friend in early 1973. Both of these would still be friends into the 1980s. Our boozing with Bill and Grace began in 1972, but ended in 1975. Our sexual dalliances with Wayne and Bunny had begun in 1972, but were over by 1973 when we moved to Jersey.
This did not mean our risky sexual proclivities ended.

On September 15, 1973, Lois and I headed to Wisconsin on vacation. It had been a long time coming that we earned enough to afford a real vacation. Our last real one had been the trip to
New York and the tour of Virginia in 1962, our second year of marriage. Since then we had taken a number of day trips, a few overnight stays and one drive out to Cleveland, but that was hardly a vacation since we just drove straight to that city and then straight back home. This was a ten-day trip across several states. The first leg was sort of a dash northwest on interstates, crossing Ohio on up through Gary and Chicago, with no stops. We then went right up to the Wisconsin Dells, after a side trip to Baraboo because I wanted to see the Circus Museum there. We stayed in the Spinning Wheel Motel one night there (right).
Circus had long fascinated me, especially the Ten-in-one or sideshow or Freak Show. Circus World is a museum dedicated to the history and all things circus. Owned by the Wisconsin Historical Society, it was built in Baraboo because that was the home of the Ringling Brothers. Ringling began their first circus tour out of the town in 1884.
From there we went to The Dells for a couple days. My regret is I had a fairly new movie camera at the time and I took a lot of films on the trip and not many photographs. I still have the films in a metal box, but nothing to view them with since I got rid of my projectors a few years back. If I ever have any spare money, I will take my movies to a place that can convert them to DVDs.

We took the long way home, cutting through Minnesota, then Indiana. We found a wonderful little local bar restaurant in some small town in Indiana. It wasn’t a tourist destination, but a place where the locals ate. We also had some car trouble in Indiana. The carburetor needed adjusting or something, but we were able to get it fixed quickly and continue our tour.
We began driving through Iowa. I decided we would continue into Missouri and stop over at Hannibal where there was a lot of Mark Twain stuff to visit, but we didn’t make it. After hours of driving through repetitive flat farm land and hearing obituaries being read on the radio along with pork belly market reports, we made a left turn east halfway down the state and headed home.
One of the few pictures I did take is of Lois in the Redwood Center Motel in Angola, Indiana. If much of our life sounds typically humdrum, the drinking and parties aside, our sexual behavior was not. For instance, I often parted the curtains slightly when we stayed in motels on the idea people might peek in and see us making love. Our risk taking sex life continued in these years, just as I continued buying pornography and going to the xxx films or strip shows.

Several of the adult bookstore now added cubicles or booths in the back where you could view pornography movies in private. Some even added such booths where a curtain would part revealing a naked woman who would do “tricks” for you as long as you pushed money through a slot. Sitting in those booths viewing such “performers” as Annie Sprinkle (use your imagination), I never gave a thought to all the previous men who had sat on that bench doing whatever they might be doing while watching a filthy film. The films weren’t the only thing dirty about such places, the interiors were none too clean either.
And at the end of 1973, we were moving again.

1 comment:

Ron said...

Wow, the sexually liberated 70's. Sounds like we both had some interesting tales to tell.