Over at Badger Blogger, Bruce is calling on "Old school memories of Milwaukee," and I added my two cents of recollection with the Natatorium.
For those of you not in the know, the Natatorium was an early-20th century bath house that had been converted into a restaurant where the pool housed porpoises to entertain diners. Before Chuck E. Cheese and Showbiz came along, this was the place for kids' birthday parties, and I certainly had my share.
One Saturday night, my father, aunt and I were sitting around the dining room table, and my aunt was drinking peppermint schnapps. I asked if I could have a glass, and being only twelve, my aunt laughed at me. But my father said it was alright, I would be fine. Not believing my father, my aunt insisted that I would be very sick after drinking even a little bit of the breath-freshening liqueur and continued to refuse. Both my father and I disagreed, which led to a bet: if I could drink a shot of the schnapps (though I wouldn't have to shoot it) and not throw up in within an hour, she would take my father and I to dinner anywhere I wanted.
And so I got my schnapps. Two, in fact.
What my aunt didn't know that my father and I were both well aware of is that since I had been about four I'd been putting away a shot of schnapps every Saturday night at my grandparents. Looking back, I think it was their way of being sure I was in bed by nine and up for church the next morning. And on holidays, I usually got two.
(I should note here that these were different times, folks. My grandparents had a fully-stocked bar in their rec-room, tap lines and all, and booze was a big part of family gatherings. My father, grandfather and great-grandfather all worked for Schlitz. The Italian side of the family assured that I had my very own miniature wine glass. When other kids were coming home from school and playing baseball, I was in the basement making up new cocktails. Hmmmm...maybe times haven't changed for me that much after all.)
Two hours later my father called my aunt and told her that I was outside playing with friends and not only hadn't thrown up, but wasn't even tipsy. And he added that next weekend she would be taking us to the Natatorium.
On the night we went, my last because the restaurant was soon to shut down, one of the porpoises had recently died (a friend of my father's who joined us kept insisting it was the night's special), but the recent addition of trained seals and the ever-present flock of tropical birds still made it exciting. If I recall correctly, the food was fairly bad, and as a consolation the manager offered our table a round of drinks.
This time, my father made me pass.