I’m a Hoosier.  Diane and I have lived for more than forty years on the Near Eastside of Indianapolis, but in the course of doing a lot of different things, I’ve gotten around to most of the other Midwestern cities and towns, from Pittsburgh to Kansas City, Traverse City to Cincinnati.  And also a few places in Virginia and elsewhere.

During that time it’s been my good fortune to have published six collections of poetry. The first one received the Walt Whitman Award and the second the Poets’ Prize. You can read about them here and here.

The third was a book of villanelles and the fourth a collection of narrative poems.  Wind Publications in Nicholasville, Kentucky published that fourth book, as well as the fifth, A Dance in the Street, which came out in 2012.

My latest book is Darkened Rooms of Summer: New and Selected Poems, published in March of 2014 by the  University of Nebraska Press. It features an introduction by Nebraska’s own Ted Kooser.  You can read more about it here.

This blog is intended as a showcase for all six volumes. But it also serves as a commonplace book for occasional observations about things I’ve read, persons I’ve known, and places I’ve visited, virtual and actual.

For more information, please stop in at my web site, Jared Carter Poetry, where you’ll find a sampling of poems and stories, a brief bio, and a page of links that can take you to dozens of web sites featuring my work.

Rushing the Growler

This blog was named in honor of one of the grand old phrases of popular American culture — an expression right up there with “Don’t tread on me,” “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too,” “Twenty-three skidoo,” and “Tune in, turn on, and drop out.”

“Rushing the growler” dates from the late 1880s, when there was no refrigeration and when the only beer available was draft beer. The technology of putting beer in cans or bottles had not yet been developed.  In cities and towns throughout the United States, but especially in the east, from Baltimore to Buffalo, if you wanted to take home some beer, the bartender at the corner tavern would fill up a metal can called a “growler.”

Evidently every homewner and workingman  in those days kept a growler or two around for just such emergencies. It was basically a metal bucket with a wire handle and it held approximately two quarts.   In those days a growler full of beer cost about fifteen or twenty cents.

By the 1890s and into the early twentieth century it was a common practice for grownups to hand one of these cans to one of the neighborhood children, along with a couple of nickels or dimes. The kid would run off to the tavern, get the growler filled, and rush it back it to the customer, receiving maybe a nickel as a tip for having “rushed the growler.”

There are some wonderful online articles about the tradition of growler-rushing.  I particularly recommend this historical survey at The Big Apple, Michael Quinion’s analysis of the phrase at World Wide Words, and a trove of trivia and growler-era photographs at Jess Kidden’s wonderful site, The Growler: The Bucket of Draught Beer in the Pre-Prohibition Era.

After almost a century-long eclipse, the bucket of beer has been enjoying a renaissance lately, due to the rise of contemporary micro-breweries. The growler has become a familiar container for craft and boutique beers, and growler-sized quantities of beer are once again being consumed throughout the land.

This blog is not devoted to the history of the growler, to beer or beermaking, or to their related pleasures, but from time to time there will be occasional references to such arcana.

For example — in the 1950s, in the town where I grew up, to earn money for college, I worked during the summers in a factory that made beer cans. I amassed four year’s  seniority in the localmetal fabricators’ union, and spent many a happy summer evening  in the local pubs with my mates, drinking beer from cans that we had manufactured ourselves.

Our preferred brand? Falstaff, although of the dozens of different cans the factory produced, we also favored Carling’s Black Label.  Both were available in those days for a dollar and a quarter a six-pack.

I worked as a press operator, but a lot of my friends were in shipping. We favored a bar called Scott’s, not far from the factory. When we came in the door, the bartender would set a cold six-pack of Falstaff on the bar for each of us, and the evening’s festivities would begin. The pleasures of draft beer were still ahead of us in those days.

Stories, anecdotes, and reminiscences about beer, then, are inevitable for a blog called “Rushing the Growler,” and I would welcome comments from readers at home and abroad.

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