Monday, July 27, 2015

Beer Can Memories

Believe it or not, beer can collecting was a legitimate hobby in the 1970's.  The father of the kid down the street from me had a huge collection which he displayed on the walls of their basement rec room. My father was a Busch man and my brothers Budweiser, so seeing the great variety of manufacturers and brands fascinated me -- and got me hooked.

Resolute on starting my own collection, but being 10 and extremely underage and with limited access to the Anheuser-Busch brands in my own home, I decided the best way to build my collection would be to scour the roads after the weekend and search the various impromptu garbage dumps in the woods around our house.

Enlisting the help of my younger neighbor Jeff (we'll share the collection!) we set out every weekend one summer and by the end had amassed quite a collection of different brands and variant cans.  We kept the cans in a 5 gallon drum we found at one of the dumps (and which probably previously held some now-outlawed toxin).  For some reason, rather than keep the collection at either of our houses (one reason probably being that our parents would throw them out and secondly, we probably couldn't work out an equitable agreement for co-ownership), we hid the collection in our neighbor's yew shrubs.

From Blatz to Hamms to Schlitz, we collected 7 oz, 12 oz and 16 oz versions.  Yet one can remained my holy grail.  One my friend down the street had in his collection.  The massive 25 oz Foster's Lager "oil can". Though I'd never seen one outside of his collection, they probably weren't that uncommon. They were an Australian brewer, but they had been imported to the U.S. since 1972, at least 5 years before we started our own collection.  But it was still elusive and we never did find one. Then one day that Fall, we discovered our collection was gone. We blamed Jeff's brother for stealing it, but most likely it was discovered by the owner of the home where we hid them and thrown away like so much rubbish.  The blow was too much and we abandoned our hobby.

Memories of those days came sharply into focus today in the garage of an estate sale where I found a box lot of beer cans, someone else's abandoned collection.  Curious, I looked through the cans, some common and other not so common brands.

Then suddenly, I saw this:

It cinched the deal and they came home with me.  Jeff Ulozus, if you're out there, our collection is complete...but let's keep them at my house.


  1. you should hit up my aunt and uncle... i think it's his collection, but it may be Leo's... but anyway, you might get lucky and they might want to get rid of it. also, i'm thrilled to see the Generic beer can in there. always thought it was a pretty clever thing to do anti-marketing as your marketing campaign.

    1. >i'm thrilled to see the Generic beer can in there.
      I was explaining that to my kids yesterday, how there were products just labeled "Bread" and "Peanut Butter". I've said it before, I'll say it again. They '70's were crazy.


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