Opinion Column

Pondering over a pint

By Jim Foster



I have, in front of me, a 500-ml can of Tyskie beer given to me by a friend who just polished off four of them and is lying facedown on my lawn. Tyskie, by the way, is the No. 1 selling beer in Poland, which all we beer connoisseurs know is brewed by Polish Tyskie Browary Ksiažece. (There is supposed to be squiggly thing underneath the 'a' and the 'e' but my computer won't let me put them in. I suspect it has something to with a political problem between Poland and China where my computer was made, as is everything else. Perhaps the smooth-talking Mr. Trump can straighten it out as he has so many other international disputes.)

What fascinates me about Tyskie (and fine beer it is, too) is the brewery has been brewing beer since 1629. That's almost 400 years. I imagine all but a few of the original staff are gone now, either passed away or were offered a package and retired, nevertheless the company is still going strong.

Note: Samuel de Champlain was the Governor of New France at the time and even then you were taking your life in your hands driving down St. Catherine's Street after the bars had closed.

It is hard to imagine any company could be around that long, yet a few are. Even our own Hudson's Bay Company (or used to be our own, until NRDC Equity Partners bought them) started just 39 years later and within a few years they had trading posts all over the place. Beaver hats sold like hotcakes and anyone who was anyone had one. The Donald, the Grand Poohbah of the United States, wears what looks like a blond one.

There is an HBS store in Barrie's Georgian Mall but I'm sorry to say they are no longer paying top dollar for pelts. At least they didn't seem all that interested in the squirrel I brought in. Perhaps the lingerie department wasn't the place to take it. The last I saw of my pelt, he or she (they are hard to tell apart) was running through the bra section terrorizing the ladies who were buying and the gentlemen who were just there to stare at the merchandise.

Mary usually does the grocery shopping, while I look after the more essential purchases like beer and the hard stuff, but occasionally I slip in to Zehrs and the price of almost everything shocks me. I remember when I was a teenager and worked at the Dominion Store, Campbell's Tomato Soup was often on special at two cans for 29 cents. For some reason the price seems to have inched up a tad over the years so you can't buy even one without a co-signer. Back in 1954 I was hauling in $1.95 an hour but I don't remember buying beer and have no idea what it cost. Three or four bucks a case, I imagine. I believe it may be up a bit.

A true story (not that everything else was a lie, well close maybe): three times I was offered a chance to go into a management training program and turned it down because I would have to work in Midland. That would have been impossible for me because I would be late for the Teen Town dance every Friday night in Orillia -- too much of a sacrifice for a young gentleman with no brains and raging hormones. It never occurred to me until now, but I bet they had girls in Midland too. I might slip over. Although most of them who were my age then would be my age now and I would be too much for them. Now that is a lie. If I go to a dance now, my cardiologist, Dr. Crewe, has to go with me and I can't afford the admission for both of us.

(This column is getting a bit weird. I better read the label on my Tyskie to see what the alcohol content is.)

Jim Foster is a columnist for the Packet & Times. He can be contacted at fosterjames@rogers.com.

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