(I do not own the copyright to this image. The folks at Pabst Brewing do. I am not using the image for commercial gain and hope they understand.)

That cartoon image of the one-eyed chap with the handle bar moustache is an image from my childhood. Way back in the 1950’s there was broadcast on local television here in Richmond, a show called Strikes ‘N’ Spares. Its subject was bowling, duckpin bowling. Most of y’all don’t know what duckpin bowling is. The pins are smaller. The ball is smaller, fitting in your hand, about the size of the ball used in bocce. The bowler has three rolls per frame, rather than the two of ten pin.

The show originated from Baltimore, just up Rte 301, I-95. or the railroad tracks, where duckpin was, and still is, popular. The game is loads of fun. It was the first bowling game I played. We played it on Fridays in Freshman Physical Education at Willow Bowl just west of my high school. They came and picked us up on an old school bus, repainted baby blue, from the old school bus yellow. WILLOW BOWL was printed on the side where the old school district legend once was emblazoned.

The sponsor of said show was National Bohemian Beer, known colloquially as Natty Boh. This was a strong, Baltimore-brewed brand, popular in the Richmond market as well as Baltimore. As time ground on, Budweiser, Miller, and, at one point, Schlitz, took away market share from local brands like National Bohemian. The financially weaker local brands disappeared or faded into the background, becoming minor players in the beer market.

To this day, I can sing the National Beer jingle. I’ve pulled the cartoon commercial up on YouTube. Still has that funky naive charm that Fifties commercials possessed. Whether this advertising subtly seduced me into the drinking life, I can’t say. But they did portray beer as an innocent enough beverage.

Back then, we had no admonitions to enjoy beer “responsibly”. In Virginia, the Baptists and Methodists still had enormous cultural sway. They set the tone. Drinking was not cool. There weren’t bars selling hard liquor by the drink till the late 1960’s. A different world it was.