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 Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

Whiskey was common currency

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew
Looking back at the good old days is not always pleasant as some subjects will be objectionable to certain readers. But history has not always been 100 percent pleasant. Recently, an amusing incident occurred that is reminiscent of the old days when whiskey was often used in bartering or as an incentive to finalize a trade or sale.

The Devil's Rope Museum was set to open for 2009 on March 1. I was up on a tall ladder in the front repainting a faded museum sign. Now, I have a full white beard, was wearing old painting clothes, old hat and didn't look like a fashion model I'll admit.

A gentleman of elder years walked up to my ladder and asked, "Do you paint other things than signs?" I hesitated a moment to look down. He added, "I have a small house up the street and I'll pay you $200 to paint it. I already have the paint bought." I hesitated again trying to figure a way to tell the man I was not a painter. He quickly added, "I'll even throw in a pint of whiskey."

We both had a good laugh as I explained my situation. The incident brought back a flood of memories of the old days when the offer would have been standard in many instances. My father was not against drinking moderately but had a tender stomach that didn't allow abuse. He bought and sold a lot of cattle at the time and a good trade often brought a Stetson hat or a bottle of whiskey as a gift. The liquor usually sat on a shelf in his closet and he would give or trade it away sooner or later in a different trade.

An old blacksmith/welder at Perryton where we traded for years was always covered up with work as he was very good at his trade. When my father needed a repair quickly he always carried a pint of Old Crow along to speed up the work. At that time it was not considered a bribe but merely a friendly consideration for a favor.

I once knew a sign painter in the same area who was partially disabled with what we would call Parkinson's disease today. His hands shook so it would seem to be impossible for him to paint a legible sign. Along with his recognized talent for painting, customers knew to bring along a pint of whiskey to help with the chore.

I would bring him a job, hand him the whiskey, and while he sipped I explained what I wanted the sign to say. I was amazed at how quickly the shaking quieted. When I returned to pick up my finished sign later his hands would be shaking again just like before.

I can't explain about the whiskey remedy. He had a nice family, was well thought of by his peers and was certainly not an alcoholic. It just required some whiskey for him to apply his trade. I don't see a thing wrong with that.

Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" May 19, 2009 Column
E-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net.
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