A Case of Beer, A Fifth of Whiskey, or Ten Dollars


A partially drunk bottle of Wild Turkey bourbo...

Image via Wikipedia

I bet you are wondering just why I would have such a title for today. I’ll tell you why–I was talking to a friend the other day and for some reason I told her the story of the case of beer, the fifth of whiskey, and the $10.

The tale reaches waaaay back into my youth.

When I was in the 9th or 10th grade, the superstar cool guys (or whatever we called them then) cooked up a lottery scheme and spread the opportunity throughout the school. The concept was simple: pay them a dollar (or fifty cents–I don’t really remember) for a chance to win a case of beer, a fifth of whiskey, or ten dollars.

Being the young and stupid 9th or 10th grader I was in 1971/72, I naively jumped in for the ten bucks. Who couldn’t use a little extra money? The thought of the beer or whiskey never crossed my mind. They weren’t even an option as my choice.

I paid my money and didn’t think about it again until homeroom one morning. As they  started the announcements, the assistant principal started reading names. A very long list of names. As the names were read, I held my breath as understanding began to dawn on my teenaged brain–this was the list of the lottery participants!

I dropped my head. Maybe, just maybe, he wouldn’t call my name.

No such luck. There it was for all the school to hear.

We were all to report to the cafeteria. Great. Busted. I was dead.

I made the death march to the lunchroom with my heart beating out of my chest. Dear Lord. What on Earth was going to happen to me? Was I going to be expelled? Suspended? Banished to outer darkness with weeping and gnashing of teeth?

I entered the room of condemnation with dozens if not hundreds of my partners in crime. I have no idea what the powers-that-be said that day, but I certainly remember what the punishment was.

We all had to clean the school and/or grounds for two weeks after school. TWO WEEKS! Can you imagine what punishment that was for a bunch of high schoolers?! As I recall, the guys had to work outside and the girls had to work inside.

What I do remember clearly was that for the first time, I realized that the custodians were actual people. I’m sure that they were NOT thrilled at having to accommodate the delinquents into their normal routines.

Or who knows, maybe it added a little amusement to their otherwise routine day.

I truly don’t remember what my parents’ reaction was to this debacle, but obviously it made a lasting impression on me.

I’m not much on gambling because I obviously am a natural born loser. I also know that when the much-admired group want you to do something, it might not be such a great idea.

I also know now that as it turns out, gambling was illegal in Alabama then and still is now. That includes any and all seemingly innocent lottery tickets.

And that’s why, dear friends, when your sweet child comes to my door or asks me in person if I want to buy a chance to win a concert ticket, $100, or an iPad, my answer will always be, “No.”

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