By Two and Two

     No, thank you for asking, we have not quite covered every aspect of alcohol as examined in the postcards of yesteryear.

     Our relationship with the juice of the barley is complex.  The traditions brought by European immigrants were divided along a north-south boundary between southern cultures from warm climates, who drank to loosen tight nerves and enhance conversation and festivity, and colder, northern regions, where the object was to get as plastered as possible and snooze one’s way through a long, hard winter.  (A little broken furniture or noses before unconsciousness was considered collateral damage.)  The first settlers to cross the sea were also divided between those who wanted to live a life of denial of physical pleasures and party animals who had to be reminded that it would be necessary to do actual labor to survive.  And you wonder why our political spectrum gets so extreme.

     Publishers of humorous postcards did not aim a lot of product at the militantly sober.  (Publishers of religious postcards, too, tended to emphasize joy, or, when considering misery, showed how religion provided comfort.)  The vast majority, like this pop song reference of the nineteen-aughts, tended to show convivial companionship.

     This one, a pop literature reference, might mock the lads for getting drunk, but the reader was free to interpret this as reprobates who weakly gave into a craving for alcohol, or lightweights who just couldn’;t carry their liquor.

     And this group also bears the signs of over-indulgence which were frowned on by the sober: those sporty straw hats, the disarranged clothes, the difficulty of walking upright.

     But as a long story poem by Rudyard Kipling pointed out, the sins ye do by two and two, ye pay for one by one.  Sometimes the last chap pf a band of happy partiers, trying to wander home to home and wife, got a little mixed up and had to be helped to a temporary shelter.

     Even if they found reasonable accommodations on their own.

     For those who did make it home, of course, there was always the morning after that needed to be faced.

     Taking stock after a party might reveal startling physical changes.

     Or a general inventory might bring increased consciousness of the unpleasantries of returning sobriety.  (As another poet wrote of the dangers of the refilled cup, “to avoid hangovers, don’t sober up.”)

     The postcard world was not one for sending rebukes (except for failing to write postcards) but even cartoonists were willing to admit the rueful truths of life.

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