I blog primarily over at "geosciblog" (http://geosciblog.blogspot.com), I am doing this one for fun. It is inspired by 30+ years of beer can collecting and having tried more than 3,000 different American beers during that time. “. . . And beer was drunk with reverence, as it ought to be.” — G. K. Chesterton

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Lone Star Flat Top and the P-38

[Not the fighter plane, but the military can-opener.]

Here is another can I picked up at our recent brewery collectibles show at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a Lone Star "soft top" from the early 1960s. The soft top was a step along the way towards the pull-tab top. Some of the brands that used the soft top were Schlitz, Budweiser and Busch (on aluminum cans), Hamms, Walter's, Pearl, Black Label, Point Special, and even Iron City.

I picked up this can to replace one of the cans that I regrettably sold years ago, while I was selling off large portions of my collection to pay bills. When ya got a family, ya do what ya gotta do.

I had found a couple of these cans in May or early June 1978, when I began what was to have been my original thesis project in the Eagle Mts. in West Texas.

When we selected our first campsite, next to a windmill and well (always a good idea in a desert or semi-desert setting), after the tents were set up and scoping out the campsite, I noticed a couple of Lone Star cans under a mequite bush. Carefully crawling under the mesquite, avoiding its thorns, I retrieved the two cans. One of the cans was full and the other one had its top removed with a P-38 military-style can opener. One side of the full can was buried in the mesquite needles, while the exposed side was sun-bleached and rusted. The other cans was more buried in the needles and more protected.

The question immediately arose, why did someone go to the trouble of completely removing the top of the can with a P-38, to presumably drink the beer? And then not drink the other one.

Sometime later, elsewhere in the campsite, I found a Lone Star can opener, which seemed to offer some evidence as to what might have happened a some 15 years earlier.

Presumably, the person/persons at the campsite (on a ranch) first lost their can opener (a common tragedy in pre-pull tab days), then decided to open a can with the P-38. Perhaps the second can was deemed to much trouble to open in this fashion or perhaps it had gotten too warm by then and the full can was tossed along with the empty (and its removed top) under the mesquite.

Otherwise, while in the Eagle Mts., I found a displayable Pearl flat top can and some fellow grad students gave me a different (older) Lone Star, which I still have on my shelves. In their study area, there was an old ranch house, used by hunters. I would have loved to have had a step ladder to check the attic area, as there was an opening from the main room. Tossing empties into attics was a common practice and the cans are usually fairly well preserved. It just wasn't doable, looking back, maybe I could have brought a step ladder in my truck on a return trip from El Paso, but the geological work was deemed more important.

[Because of a series of unfortunate events, I didn't finish that thesis project, but did another thesis project in southern New Mexico a few years later.]

The four displayable cans found in the Eagle Mts. represent the sum total of displayable beer cans found during my outdoor geological career, i.e., during field work over the course of 30 years. I have a found a number of rusty, unidentifiable cans, but no other "keepers".


Great Lone Star can. I love the instructions on the 'soft top'. Plus I have a soft spot for Lone Star, having lived in Houston for a stretch. Great post.
Great post!
Thank you.
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