As you know, we get emails around here with all sorts of inquiries about this and that. Recently someone suggested that the world would be better if I posted his opinion piece on something. No thanks. Plenty of days, mixed in with the Nigerian scams there are offers to promote someone else's web business or eve, say, movie about a non-existent beer fest at little or now benefit to this here blog. Again, no thanks.
But then there are those little gems of an inquiry setting out a tiny facet of beer culture like this one from Frank:
My father (1906-1968) told me a story of life in Texas in the 1930's involving a token called a "check for a short beer". At the time, beer in a tavern was $0.15 or two for $0.25. You always paid $0.25 because, if you only wanted one, you received a check (token) for the short ($0.10) beer. The token could be used later for a beer at that or any surrounding tavern.I have never heard of the phrase but the word "short" in relation to beer does crop up here and there. "Short pour" means not getting full measure as in the CAMRA campaign. "Short beer" can also refer to having just a little beer as in one joke on this page or this quote from a 2005 New York Times article. But Frank's question relates to a second beer in a pair. In 1980s Halifax of my youth, beer was bought in pairs of 8 oz glasses. No one bought just one. Here is reference to a matching pair of glasses for "a short beer and a long shot" but that's not a pair of beers. And here is another one for a large measure sold at half price.
The term was also used as a derisive inclusion to a list of things that had little value: "...a rabbit's foot, two bottle tops and a check for a short beer. Can anyone confirm or elaborate on this? I have looked for years at antique stores and collectible shops and have yet to find one of these tokens or anyone who can corroborate the story.
Here, however, is a passage from a 1941 Fibber McGee AND Molly radio show script I came across via Google that seems to touch on the concept he is mentioning:
Certainly, my little bottle baby. Now where'd I put that glass-cutter? Had it right here a minute ago...glass-cutter, glass-cutter....here's a set of skeleton keys that'll get me into any jail in the country - if I'm not careful..... a kangaroo bill-fold....you should have seen the fellow jump when I took it away from him..... present for my brother, Luke, who's in the cooler....it's a muffler to keep Luke warm .... a wire from Sheila the Shop-lifter...says the police caught her in a revolving door......now, that's wrong - they caught her WITH a revolving door...and no check for a short beer! WELL, WELL, FANCY THAT, NO GLASS-CUTTER, EITHER! Come to think of it, I left it in that jewelry store window last night. Ah, that was a neat job. I never pulled down so much money in such a short time since the day one of my garters got caught in my money belt. Well, good day, my dear, and a sad farewell to you, Pickled Paws.That seems to be a soliloquy by a petty thief who is using the phrase as a euphemism for not having a way out of a jam or no ace up one's sleeve. No tokens. Hmmm...anyone else know anything?
Update: After I wrote this, I checked around Google for a while and I think the token illustrated is an example of what Frank is describing but not necessarily that particular use of the rain check.