Sunday, January 14, 2007

Raising The Bar...

The discussion is rife again about raising the legal drinking age in this country from 18 years to 21 years, many arguments being put forward, for and against. I'm in the "for" camp.

When I was a teenager one had to be 21 years old to legally drink. At the age of 16, I tried scotch for the first time, straight, in a tea cup of all things! I was at a 'gathering' (it was more of a gathering than a party) with some friends in the home of another. They were all a few years older than I was, at the time (and still are. We were sitting around in his lounge-room listening to jazz records. I commenced my working life as a shy, young legal secretary with a law firm in Gympie, mid-year of my Junior-level in High School. I was 15 going on 16. I made new friends upon starting work as most of my school friends remained at school.

Life in those days was filled with parties, dances, record hops, balls and weekends surfing at the coast. Alcohol was present but it wasn't a major force in our lives. I drank illegally, but never abused it, one reason being the fact that I was under-age. I respect the law, even though I was breaking it!

Before going to balls, there were always pre-ball parties. Often times our ball party met up at the Empire Hotel in Mary Street. The hotel was just a few doors down from the office in which I worked. I'm sure the hoteliers knew how old I was, particularly as just about every week, sometimes more than once a week, a photo of me would be in the local paper, 'The Gympie Times'. This pictorial invasion of my privacy occurred because a fellow I worked with was the local town photographer in his spare time. He took photos for submission to the paper, wedding photographs, debutantes, coming-of-age, name it, he took it. And when he ran out of ideas, he took pictures of, off to the coast for the, buying a new pair of, watching the grass grow (during the drought, watching paint dry!)...anything he could think of, he 'shot' me because I was 'there' and the paper needed space filled! When I was 18 years old, I was one of four local girls who were entered into the "Miss Australia" Quest. We were 18 at the time and received quite an amount of publicity in the town. Our ages were out there for all to see. I'm telling you this to help paint a picture of those days.

My belief is, even though we drank, we behaved ourselves because we *were* under-age. I know I didn't want to draw attention to myself. I knew I wasn't supposed to be drinking, so if I got into trouble because of that, the doors would be shut at home. I wouldn't be allowed out again! My friends and I never abused alcohol. "Binge-drinking" wasn't part of our lives.

The 'Reef Hotel', as it was known in those days, on top of the hill at Noosa Heads, was a wonderful place to congregate. It was the 'watering-hole' of the Noosa Heads lifesavers, who were a tempting draw-card, of course! Many a Friday night or Saturday night was spent out on the wide deck enjoying the sea breezes and a few drinks...and the view! Mostly, though, we were more interested in going to the 'record hops' and 'hopping' the nights away, than drinking.

The point I'm making is, because the law said we had to be 21 years of age to drink legally, when we did drink under age, we respected the law (that sounds double-edged, doesn't it?) and rather than draw attention to ourselves, we behaved.

The way it is today with the legal age being 18 years, kids are drinking at younger and younger ages. They're not mature enough to know 'right' from 'wrong'. In far too many cases, they feel they have to compete with their peers and within a blink of an eye, everything gets out of control. Our newspapers show too many stories of young people injured or killed from alcohol-related incidents. Of course, in today's young society they have the demon drugs tempting them as well. It is a lethal cocktail!


  1. Those should be good points Lee, however to compare pre 21 year olds of today with the ones of your era (that sounds a bit off doesn't it, but you know what I mean) just doesn't work.
    The pace of life and the changes to what is acceptable are just to great, it's lifes rules as well as drinking age that need to be changed

  2. Well, I believe, for one, Peter, I was far more mature at the age of 18 than a lot of these kids today are. I had already been in the workforce for three years and was caring for myself, even though I still lived at home until I moved to Brisbane. I never had anything 'handed to me on a platter'...still don't!

    As for having parents who loaded up the boot/trunk of their cars with grog to give to their kids for 'schoolie's week' (purposely no caps!), this would never have occurred in a 'blue fit' and shouldn't be happening these days, either. I believe the whole phase/tradition, whatever you want to call it, of 'schoolies' is a load of the proverbial. I think I've mentioned my feelings on that one previously.

    Nothing wrong with changing 'life's rules'...bring back respect, self-pride and dignity, would be good place to start!

  3. Hi Lee ~~ I'm not getting between you and my brother on this one. However I very much agree with your last paragraph of the comment about respect and dignity. They seem to have got lost along the way.
    I do think in the states where drinking and driving both start at the same age, that is not a good idea.
    Thank you for your visit and comments. Glad you enjoy the posts. Take care, Love, Merle.

  4.'re a chicken, Merle! ;)

  5. I feel that respect for the law and other people as gone down the drain. I remember when I was young, yep, like you Lee, I had tried drinking but was bloody scared of the law. There's none of that today and it's because, back in the 60s that stupid Dr Spock (and I don't mean the Vulcan from Starship Enterprise) advocated that parents don't discipline their children and to deny them anything would "upset their psyches". He has a lot to answer to, although I think the idiot's dead now.

  6. tell 'em, Robyn! I was more scared of Mum, Nana and my brother than the cops! lol

    But you're right...perhaps they should have sent Dr Spock up in the Enterprise...and deposited him up beyond somewhere! ;)

  7. I like the idea being bandied around - somewhere - that the rules for P plate drivers get tightened up. It's horrific what the young ones are doing to themselves - they should restrict them to low-powered cars, and yes, one passenger only - AND a curfew.

    No comment on the under-age drinking from me! ::smiles::

  8. Oh! Go on, a devil and admit you were 'one of us'! lol