It was a rough year for Godfrey, back when he was nine, and his last week of school was a particularly nasty time..He had a painful welt on his shaggy head, a swollen lip from a beet containing a stone, a beet that Tenbrooks Smythe The Third had cruelly thrown.
He was pecked by geese, as he passed Mulgrew’s place , Things got no better when sister Alice, met him at the door with her “Dog food for your Dinner” smile. But inside on the table was their Christmas parcel, from Aunt Phyllis in Canada sent every year. Among the treasures, padded well in a sock, he found an odd brown bottle, “Hire’s Extract For Root Beer”. Gloating Alice told Godfrey, it’s beer made from beet roots, special for you.
Godfrey disliked beets, he disliked beer, a reminder of his Uncle Lou. Ma hid the extract of root beer away, to make a batch for his summer birthday. Fizzy drink back then was a treat for us, ginger ale if we were ill, or lemonade at weddings we all had to share. Always happy to torment her brother, Alice reminded Ma that the extract was hidden from Godfrey and where.
His Ma and mine brought the sugar,(it called for a lot) They bickered over the back fence who had the best canning pot. Mrs Mulgrew provided the yeast, last but not least. Godfrey hoped it was cake a baking, he dreaded the beet-root beer they were making.
“Lady Be Bad”- a novel three inches thick, propped the bottle capper up, it’s lurid hard cover doing the trick. Twenty four bottles were stowed away, to brew for his August Birthday. Godfrey shared his tenth birthday with ancient Great Uncle Vic, no one recalled whose Uncle he was he was known as silly old ‘V’, the day was spent with Aunts and Cousins, Uncle Lou and a picnic and swim in the sea.
Home made Root Beer on ice, foaming was handed to Godfrey..everyone round him was popping bottles open to taste, preparing for beet flavored beer, was hard for sensitive Godfrey to face. He took a small sip, then a swig, then another, he took a big gulp, beamed at his sister, and sought out to hug his grouchy mother.
It was sweet, and bubbly and tasted of cherry, and the earthy scent of woods, it snizzed up his nose, he had never had a birthday this good. It mattered not, that Uncle Lou had real beer and got out of hand. It mattered not, when Lou rubbed his sticky face in the sand, it mattered not losing the belching contest to me. It mattered not, splitting the last cold bottle of homemade root beer with old Uncle ‘V’…It was his lifelong beverage of choice, Godfrey was something of a Root Beer “Conasewer” as he spelled it.
That fun summer when he came home here to the farm, for his birthday I procured a bottle of root-beer extract, the rusty old capper, and the decrepit remains of “Lady Be Bad” to prop it up. He was properly delighted with the surprise , and I let him win the belching contest…