Broke, busted, bottles can’t be trusted…

Hubs got a beer making kit from his favorite son-in-law for Christmas. The large box sat on the counter in the pantry since that December day. “Dude, what’s the hold up here?” “I’m torn. I got issues.” Oh my stars, here we go. We’re diving into the background on his “issues,” which occurred over a half century ago in 1969.

This is a couple years before ‘69. On our way to prom weighed down with a lot of hair and pointy boobs…

Johnny Wayne and I were having some serious conversations about what exactly the future held for us. I was 18, he was 21. I had boundary issues concerning my folks. I was a belligerent, selfish brat trying to make my own decisions but failing miserably when it came to opposing mom & dad on anything but there I was on the cusp-of-the-rest-of-my-life.

Earliest picture of ‘us.’ My hair looks too big for my head! 1965…

The line in the sand on their part was the elimination of Johnny from my life on a permanent basis. This was one of their several semi-successful-mostly failed attempts on their part to ‘encourage’ their wayward daughter to seek a path of less/no resistance where mom and dad’s opinions about how I lived my life were concerned.

Mom & dad. Dad’s wearing long johns and mom’s wearing bell bottoms. Hahaha…

Meanwhile Johnny and I were devising the ultimate secret plan which would culminate in the fall. This is what played out during the rest of our summer of ‘69. We were staying on the ‘down low’ because many of our friends in Sioux City were from our hometown (60 miles away). None of them would ‘out’ us intentionally but a mere slip of the tongue by one of them when talking to family and the whole of Rock Valley proper would in on our plan. So we told NO ONE. Until we needed help pulling it off.

One of ‘those’ friends had just graduated from college and landed his first teaching job in South Sioux City, Nebraska. Not enough time for a summer job, zero income, no where to live, so Johnny says, “Dale, come stay with me. I’ll pay for everything until you get paid and find a place of your own.”

Dale, 1973…

I was living in a boarding house with several young women and working a variety of shifts at a nursing home. John worked a combination of days and nights at Channel 4, so the new roomies could not go out very often. Which was good since they could ill afford to blow a wad of money neither of them had. Many nights were spent with a six pack of Hamm’s (from the land of sky blue wa-ters) sitting on the front porch and Dale strumming his guitar.

Hamm’s the beer refreshing, Hamm’s the beer refreshing-Hamm’s…

Out of boredom they came up with the clever idea to make their own beer. Elton, a mutual friend had often reminisced about the beer his dad brewed in Oklahoma. The process would take weeks and give them something to do (and drink). So they called Elton, who called his dad and relayed the recipe to the Iowa guys.

Dale with his Irish Setter, Anja our German Shorthair Pointer and our infamous 1972 Vega…

They bought a new plastic garbage can, mixed up the ingredients and stuck it under the kitchen sink. After a few days threw in an alcohol thermometer to see when the brew could be bottled. Zero, zilch, nada on alcohol content a couple weeks later. Called Elton back and asked for remedies to register some booze in the beer. Elton called his dad who suggested tossing in a couple apples so fermentation could get a jumpstart. The boys threw in a large bag of apples. A couple days later they walked into foam filled kitchen. A sticky mess, but registering a high alcohol reading. Hauled the can downstairs, removed the alcohol infused apples and bottled their beer, anxious to try some.

Later when they were asleep one of them woke up to loud popping sounds. Bottles of beer were exploding in the basement. Not just popping the cork but shards of glass and beer everywhere. They decided to move the intact bottles to a metal tank, immersing them and running cold water continuously. (Aren’t you glad you didn’t own this place or paid the water bill)? Couple weeks later these yahoos could get a buzz on after one bottle of beer. (Good grief, what was I getting into)?

Party at the Van Berkum’s! Back of Helen’s head, Dale, Bob, Doug and the Hubs, Sioux City 1973…

This is one of Hubs favorite stories involving his best friend Dale, who passed away unexpectedly 2 years ago. I’m guessing John felt disloyal with the thought of brewing beer without him. Hubs finally read the beer instruction manual (several pages long, in minute detail, unlike the lackadaisical recipe via Elton years ago) and together (I’m a poor substitute for Dale and wouldn’t drink a beer for less than a thousand bucks-prepaid-in cash) but it was kind of fun, hops and yeast everywhere. I think Hubs can finish his beer project without me. Oh, and the secret plan commenced on September 22, 1969 when Johnny Wayne & Neese eloped in Elk Point, South Dakota with Dale and a complete stranger as our witnesses. So much fun spreading the news to our parents. Yikes…

3 thoughts on “Broke, busted, bottles can’t be trusted…

  1. Hi Denise,
    After two months I’m so glad to see another post, quite entertaining by the way. I’ve read all of your posts at least twice but I can’t recall your living in a boarding house; how’d I miss that?
    Hope we don’t have to wait another two months for another post. How did the trip to Mississippi go? Most important, how are YOU doing?
    Paul and Betty

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey P & B, umm it’s true I’ve slowed down with blogging a bit but it hasn’t been 2 months. Blogged twice in February. Your knowledge of my stories is amazing and maybe I actually never mentioned the boarding house. The stay there was only a couple months before we eloped but at 18 in 1969 I just could not move in with him. Yikes, my parents would have had me committed. Mississippi trip was really short and came back to an ice storm. That’s all for now because it’s my next story. I’m doing ok. Waiting patiently for spring to arrive. We had snow and wind yesterday and it’s very cold again today. Thanks for your continued support. My best to you and Miss B…


      • Hi Denise, Again,
        Yes, it’s only been one month. I read your two Feb. posts in Feb. I guess I’m trying to bring spring and warmer weather in early.
        Looking forward to hearing about your trip.
        P ( and B (.


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