One of the more popular items that Bill’s sold was keg beer. We had more variety and sizes of kegs than any other store around and so we delivered quite a few during the warm months.
We sold the keg and would include a container and ice for a small additional fee; telling the customer that we could provide everything they needed for the perfect party. And it was my job to “tap” the kegs for most customers, something that I became quite good at performing. I think “performing” is the appropriate word to use, as a crowd would always gather to watch me practice my craft of tapping the keg and producing the perfect first glass of beer with just the right amount of foam.
I will always remember one particular keg that I didn’t tap…I received an order to take a half keg (15 gallons) to an address in Westchester. We rarely delivered to that city, but for a half keg order, we would do it. At this time, the VW van had been retired and we drove a new 1958 Chevy delivery sedan. This car had a 6 cylinder engine and a 3 speed column shift manual transmission. I placed the keg on a hand dolly and put the dolly and the keg on its side in the back of the sedan. About half way to Westchester, I had to slam my brakes on to avoid a car in front of me and when I did, I heard a rumbling from the back. The keg and the dolly were rolling at great speed toward the front of the car. I put my hand out to stop it and then thought better of it at the last moment. The keg embedded itself into the dashboard.
I pulled over and inspected the damage. There was nothing to be done except pull the keg back out and continue on. As I drove, I kept thinking that there might be enough time for the contents of that now highly pressurized keg to calm down, but I knew I was just fooling myself.
I pulled up in front of the house and unloaded the keg carefully. I went around to the back of the house where everything was setup for the party…and where about 30 people stood waiting for the beer to arrive.
Imagine how I felt. But then, the homeowner saved me; saying, “It’s OK, I know how to tap a keg. Here…thanks.” And he handed me a $5 dollar tip! I was down the driveway and into the sedan in a flash. I didn’t want to be anywhere near that keg when he drove the pouring spout into it.