”I define manhood simply: men should be tough, fair, and courageous, never looking for a fight, but never backing down from one either.” John Wayne (1907-1979)

Heavy drinking as an indicator of masculinity is probably most common and most accepted during the period when boys transition from being adolescents to adult men. The, for boys, forbidden spirits become a source of stories of upheavals and embarrassments caused by heavy drinking. Some of these stories are recorded in letters, in this case from "Lillen" in Bunkered, Småland, to Christer, who was sent to Cyprus as an UN soldier in the 1970s.  

Bankeryd 11-01-1973

Hello Christer!

It is one o’clock, the night between Wednesday and Thursday, and it is downright bloody impossible to sleep, so I will try to write about what happened during Christmas and New Year’s. The Wednesday before Christmas Eve, I, Mikael, and Sam went to visit your father. We brought a 75cl Koskenkorva vodka, which we sat down and shared. Oskar served us ribs and beer, and when it was empty and eaten Mikael was thirsty and asked if we shouldn’t get his Christmas schnapps as well. No, we said, since we were working the next day. But as usual he didn’t have to ask twice, before we sent him away to get it. It was good and a lot of fun that evening, but it was very hard to go to work in the morning. When that day was over, and I was back home, had washed myself, and went to bed, I fell asleep with a newspaper on my face. But at 9 o´clock the doorbell chimed. It was Dan Martinsson and Eva, and they wanted to treat me to something drinkable. As usual, one doesn’t say no, and that evening was saved. Friday was a pure nightmare, after a couple of bottles of wine it’s usually so, as you well know. Praise the Lord for letting me survive that day. It went on like that all Christmas, from Wednesday night, to Boxing day. Father and I went around and secretly sipped from the bottles all day long as usual.

On New Year’s Eve we went from home at five and came to Göteborg with Kalle and Kerstin around eight. By ten Kerstin drove us to the Stena pier, by then we were quite tipsy. We went aboard the Stena Atlantica where we had booked a table in the dining room. We began with a salmon sandwich for starters, plus a couple of beers and a Jubileum schnapps. For main course we got a fine beef fillet. We drank a couple of bottles of beer and had some more Jubileum’s, and then I started to feel the buzz again. It wasn’t just us, the whole dining room laughed and carried on like mad. Five to twelve the champagne came in. When everybody had toasted we sang the national anthem. What a feeling! I was pretty buzzed, and that's why I did the usual. That’s right! I slipped away from the gang and went to the bar to buy drinks.

There I met a couple of chicks and chaps from Jönköping, so I sat down and chatted with them. When Sam and the others found me, I had chatted up one of the girls and I was with her most of that night. Imagine the faces of the others when I, late at night, came back to the cabin we had booked. But all went well, since Nisse took out a whole bottle of Smirnoff, then the mood was back on top again. We mixed the Smirnoff with some kind of wine, it tasted like shit but did wonders for the old bag of bones.

Sam managed to drive back home on Monday evening. Mikael sat in the front seat and sipped from a bottle of Smirnoff while we crouched together in the back and tried to sleep. But it didn’t go very well since I had to get out every other ten kilometres or so to get some air and hurl. When we came back, Mikael didn’t dare to go home since he was pretty drunk, so he stayed over with me. Needless to say, I felt really sickTalk about sick when I woke up Tuesday morning. I was almost just as drunk, but still I went to work. Mikael was more dead than alive, and he stayed in bed when I went away at 6:30 a.m. He lay in the same position when I came back at 5 in the afternoon. What a party! This Saturday we went to congratulate Sam. It was his 29th summer. We bought him eight long glasses and eight beer glasses, since we had broken so many of his glasses before. This became a real drinking bash as well.

No one (except Mikael and I who had shared one and a half 75 cl bottle of sailor schnapps) had anything. But Sam was so happy that we came to congratulate him that he went and borrowed two 75 cl bottles of Gin from Hasso. Then, you’ll see that it became what I call a real birthday bash! This is all I can think of (remember) for now, but I will try to write again soon. Mother, father, and sister say thanks for cards and letters, and they, just as everybody else, send their regards through me.

Lastly, I hope you won’t forget to write to your mother. I ran into her in town a little while ago.

Many regards from your buddy, Carlsson.


Christer's good friend "Lillen" is a very diligent letterwriter and he tells Christer that he often gets into fights and conflicts after he has been drinking. In the letters he often presents it as an adventure and as a little entertaining, although he often realizes that he himself is the cause of many of the problems. Below he describes one day of partying new the beach and marina, Domsand, on the outskirts of Bankeryd. 

Bankeryd 30-05-71

Hello Christer!

This time I’ll just write about what happened last weekend, (Ascension Day) but that’ll be enough, as you’ll see.

It began with the drinking on Thursday, but then nothing important happened. On Friday, though, big things happened. At 9 in the morning, Lasse Samuelsson and I went to Bolaget to buy booze. 10 o’clock we started with a bottle of Bacardi, followed by a 75 cl bottle of vodka. When we had emptied that, it was around noon. Since the weather was nice, we took the bikes and a 37 cl bottle of Gin and biked around for a while. At 2 o’clock both the bottle and us were finished to the last drop, though we hadn't even biked to Domsand, we just sat down on two tree stumps in the woods. When we finally came down to Domsand and had been sitting there, joking and prattling with people for a couple of hours, we were thirsty again. Not one of those bastards wanted to go and buy more for us, and no wonder, as you can see in retrospect, we must have been quite drunk by then. Around half past five, Löfgren came in Jerry’s car, and that was our salvation. One hour later we had another 37 cl bottle. We emptied it, slowly but steadily. Then Lasse went to get Grossan and I “biked” towards town, following the line in the middle of the road. Halfway home I met Jan Sahlén and Claesson, they were on bikes as well, and not to mention three sheets to the wind. We biked to little Claessenska, at Wedin’s. After a bit of smooching there, I biked back to Domsand on my own, where I met Lasse again. “Let’s go down to the boats and look around,” I said. When we came out on the pier, a couple of blokes on the other side shouted at us to leave. Is that any of their business, I said to Lasse. No! Take your jacket off and come here, I said. We went up to the blokes and chatted. Bam, it said. The damn bastard pushed me into the creek. I crawled up with great effort and punched the bastard straight on the jaw. He fell like a log and I followed with a couple of hits to his chest. Then we calmly went back to my place, where a whole bunch sat and boozed.

Later that night Jerry and I was on our way to Domsand again. When we came to Wetterbrandt’s, a whole bunch stood there and chatted. What are you talking about, we said. Kinkan came out and threw a whole bucket of water on us, they said. As sloshed as Jerry and I were, we asked how they could stand it, took a big stone each and threw them straight at the window in the house. Bam. Everybody scattered like rats, straight into the woods, except Jerry and me. We calmly kept on going down to Domsand. By the bridge, on our way down to the beach, the cop car came along with Kalle Wiska riding shotgun. He had seen us and made the call. Get in the car, the cops bellowed, they were tough as nails. We had to go with them to Wetterbrandt’s house. One of the cops went with Kalle to "investigate the scene of the crime”. Then it was straight to the drunk tank. It was bloody annoying to wake up in there at half past four on Saturday morning. First an interrogation, then they drove us home.

How do you like that? It’s not over yet. In addition to Kalle reporting us to the police, I am charged with assault and battery as well. It was in the paper on Monday as well as Tuesday. Now, as I write this, I haven’t heard anything yet, but it usually takes a while. There goes both the driver’s license and the driver job, for sure. But it’s not important, since I bloody well will leave this place, now when the old bags have something to gossip about for a long while. Read and learn from this, since now we must stop drinking so bloody much, at least outdoors. See you!

Many regards from someone who soon might be behind bars.

Everyone sends their regards.