Senior Citizens‘ Prohibition Enforced in Minnesota

I had heard rumors that the State of Minnesota, having long been well known for its progressivist solutions to burning social issues, would engage in a new approach of reducing the consumption of alcoholic beverages by senior citizens. It would prohibit the consumption in restaurants and bars for those 65 years and above, and would introduce identity controls along the lines of the well-established procedure of checking the above-21 drinking age. I had basically disregarded these rumors but upon our arrival in Minneapolis found out immediately that there was some truth to them. Apparently a trial period is now in operation that specifically targets foreigners.

Be that as it may, our group went for a beer after a long drive up from Madison/Wisconsin and after checking into the Days Hotel. We hit upon what seemed to be a nice beer place, with a deck in back so that we could even sit outside on that Saturday evening, the temperature still allowing for it. Then came the waitress, and while the students were used to proving their drinking age, I also was asked to produce proof of my age. Now everyone who knows me will agree that I don’t quite look like I might be confused with a youngster below the age of 21. But this was not the issue. When I reluctantly showed first my driver’s license and then my German identity card which both had my birth date on them, I was told that these official documents would not be recognized and that I had to show them my passport – which I had left in my hotel room. I was told the barkeeper would not accept anything else. So I went inside to talk to him, but of no avail. Even my protestations that I was being discriminated against did not move him. Then it finally dawned upon me that I happened to be the scapegoat of the new initiative by the State of Minnesota to ban drinking for seniors. I suspect there was an ethnic element involved in this matter as well: apparently the Scandinavians had never forgiven the Germans that – against all stereotypical notions about Minnesota – the latter were the larger immigrant group in that state. Apparently the Scandinavians had finally prevailed and helped pass the new ordinance, based upon a much more puritanical version of Lutheran belief, which is not unknown in Scandinavia even today.

The story ends, however, with a gesture of solidarity that I found very impressive. When I came back from talking to the barkeeper and told my students the result, they did not say a word but got up and together we left the inhospitable place.

PS: I had no problem being served upon in the bar next door.
H. Keil


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