This is Part Three and the final installment of a short series about growing up around alcohol.
Last Monday I posted about the three main bars in Cruz Bay in the late 1950's; Smitty's, Mooie's, and the Ellington's bar at Gallows Point. I also promised to tell you about how my sister Erva and I came to play with cigarettes.
Among the white people who lived on St. John, my parents were in the minority who had kids. Getting a baby-sitter rarely happened. Most every one understood, if the Denhams were invited, the girls were going to come along. My parents felt if Erva and I weren't invited, then it probably wasn't a party they wanted to go to. The consequences of this attitude was that Erva and I were around a lot of adults.
So it was, when my parents were invited to a wedding reception at Gallows Point, the girls went along. I was around ten. Just about everyone was there, including Ivan (John) Jadan who, in a former life, had been a Russian tenor with the Bolshoi Theater.
Whenever he showed up at a party he brought his balalaika and sang Russian folk songs.
Well, this time he not only brought his balalaika, he also brought his son, a handsome young man of about 25 or so. Even I, at ten, thought he was good looking.
Because, as usual, Erva and I were the only kids at the party, Ivan's son decided to help keep us entertained, with my parent's permission of course.
He anchored a paper napkin across the top of glass with a rubber band. On top of the napkin he placed a dime. Then he lit a cigarette for each of us. The game was to see how many holes we could burn into the napkin before the dime fell into glass. So there we were, the three of us perched on bar stools at on end of the bar, playing with cigarettes.
It never occurred to either Erva or I to take a puff when it was way more fun to burn holes in the napkin! I can clearly remember having a grand time watching the ashes collect in the bottom of glass, trying not to be one to cause the dime to fall.
Those were innocent times. I can't imagine parents these days allowing their kids to hang out at a bar and play with cigarettes.