I don't think we're exactly awash in junior high kids trolling bars in Lincoln. I can only recall a couple of times in the past quarter century where we've needed to pull this ordinance out of the book in response to a problem. Actually, I may have violated it myself as a 15 year-old in the spring of 1969, in the same circumstances as this affair the following year on January 9, 1970--although I suspect Valentino's did not yet hold a liquor license.
Some people wonder why we have such a law in the first place. I have a theory, which I described a few years ago. Do you think the problems of Mrs. Dennis, Mrs. Shaw and mothers in similar circumstances may have gotten a little worse when a few thousand members of the Army Air Forces came to town in 1942?
Officer Hulda Roper (for whom Roper Elementary School is named) would certainly know. She followed Matron Rickard into the police force in 1944. By then, Chief Joe Carroll had replaced the politically-incorrect job title of Matron with the (now) politically-incorrect job title of Policewoman. One night in late October of 1949, Hulda fired up the audience at the First Evangelical United Brethren Church.
Apparently not only brethren were present. City council member Fern Hubbard Orme introduced an ordinance, and the Lincoln Council of Church Women rallied support.
The Public Safety Director, never far from a reporter's notebook, weighed in on the legal nuance concerning the definition of "taverns".
Thus, thereafter the tots were tossed from taverns at 2100.
And that's how laws are made. In 1949, there were a few dozen "beer taverns" and a handful of private bottle clubs in Lincoln. Liquor by the drink inside the city limits didn't come along until the mid 1960s. No one in 1949 would have envisioned that bowling allies, music halls, arcades, family restaurants, airports, hotels, golf courses, and a laundromat would have liquor licenses--much less a sushi place or a motion picture theater. Nor would they have imagined that two high school sophomores would be violating the law by patronizing a pizza parlor after a high school basketball game.
My first visit to a theater with a liquor license was in Dallas several years ago. It had really nice seats, cocktail tables, some decent small-plates, and a nice selection of beers and wine by the glass--quite similar to the Marcus Midtown in Omaha. It seemed a very low-risk drinking environment. As much as I might long for a return to the days when not every single activity demanded alcohol be served, the fact is that we also need more low-risk drinking environments where the alcohol is a small part of the experience, and not the main attraction--as an alternative to Ms. Rickard's poetic description of the aftermath of a binge 65 years ago, that hasn't changed much since:
"Did succeed in getting her to erp in the toilet. Oh my, I didn't want the lunch I had brought. My lungs are filled with the smell of foulness and liquor. I sure need a cigarette, but am out of them. These night drunks are awful."