By Abe Villarreal

I like it when I learn of old tricks-of-the-trade that where once commonly used by people who needed a shortcut or something to hide.

Like a flask of liquor in a Bible. I've always wondered when this tradition began and how it might have become one of those open secrets. Maybe it was a fiery fundamentalist preacher with one hand waving in the air and the other hand holding a Bible made up of a front cover, a back cover, and six ounces of gin in between.

I'm sure it takes a lot to condemn your fellow brethren for all the sins of the world while also ignoring your own. A good shot of spirits will make you forget the true evils of the world.

I'm not sure the flask in the Bible tradition is much in favor these days. It may have left with the tradition of hiding jewelry in the flour jar. I watched an episode of The Golden Girls once where Blanche, the southern belle, was covered in flour after searching for her precious lost jewels that had been taken by robbers during a home invasion.

I always wondered why someone would hide jewelry in flour. Maybe it's too much work for robbers to empty out a flour jar as they hurry through the house and look in other seemingly obvious places like the freezer or the sock drawer. Maybe even thieves are gluten-free these days.

And then there are those not-so-quirky American family traditions that many of us wish we still practiced. Like the family dinner. During a recent trip to Baltimore, I spoke to an Italian lady who practically ran the local Little Italy neighborhood. She said that they still practiced family dinner every Sunday night. Doing it somehow kept the neighborhood a community.

Not all neighborhoods are communities. They are places where people live, but don't really exist as units of people communicating, sharing, and helping each other. The return of family dinners might help us get back to that.

More recently, we've lost traditions that have been swept away with the digital revolution and the quickly changing habits of consumers. Just a generation ago, daughters and dads would visit video rental stores together. They would look at VHS boxes together. Turn to the backside of the rental box together and read the movie plots together. They would walk to the checkout counter together and pick up oversized candies together. Then they would drive home and join the rest of the family to watch a Friday night movie together.

There is a reason why a tradition becomes a tradition and will usually stand the test of time. It's something that was meaningful enough for enough people to keep it going. Some of them silly, like a flask in a Bible, some of them not so silly, like going to church together every Sunday – a tradition that is currently falling out of favor.

I like to learn of those traditions that help keep us together as families and as communities. They might seem insignificant, but to someone, or to a family somewhere, they are important. If hiding your most valuable jewels in the flour jar is something you do because your grandma did it, keep on doing it.

If having your family come together to decorate the Christmas tree while listening to Nat King Cole sing The Christmas Song, keep on doing it.

Quirky not, holding on to something special is worth holding on to it (unless it's vodka in the New Testament).

Abe Villarreal writes about life and culture in America. He can be reached at

Content on the Beat

WARNING: All articles and photos with a byline or photo credit are copyrighted to the author or photographer. You may not use any information found within the articles without asking permission AND giving attribution to the source. Photos can be requested and may incur a nominal fee for use personally or commercially.

Disclaimer: If you find errors in articles not written by the Beat team but sent to us from other content providers, please contact the writer, not the Beat. For example, obituaries are always provided by the funeral home or a family member. We can fix errors, but please give details on where the error is so we can find it. News releases from government and non-profit entities are posted generally without change, except for legal notices, which incur a small charge.

NOTE: If an article does not have a byline, it was written by someone not affiliated with the Beat and then sent to the Beat for posting.

Images: We have received complaints about large images blocking parts of other articles. If you encounter this problem, click on the title of the article you want to read and it will take you to that article's page, which shows only that article without any intruders. 

New Columnists: The Beat continues to bring you new columnists. And check out the old faithfuls who continue to provide content.

Newsletter: If you opt in to the Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates option above this to the right, you will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.

Submitting to the Beat

Those new to providing news releases to the Beat are asked to please check out submission guidelines at They are for your information to make life easier on the readers, as well as for the editor.

Advertising: Don't forget to tell advertisers that you saw their ads on the Beat.

Classifieds: We have changed Classifieds to a cheaper and shorter option. Check periodically to see if any new ones have popped up. The former software failed us, so it's just a category now, with prices posted. Send your information to and we will post it as soon as we can. Instructions and prices are on the page.

Editor's Notes

It has come to this editor's attention that people are sending information to the Grant County Beat Facebook page. Please be aware that the editor does not regularly monitor the page. If you have items you want to send to the editor, please send them to Thanks!

Here for YOU: Consider the Beat your DAILY newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County. It's at your fingertips! One Click to Local News. Thanks for your support for and your readership of Grant County's online news source—

Feel free to notify if you notice any technical problems on the site. Your convenience is my desire for the Beat.  The Beat totally appreciates its readers and subscribers!  

Compliance: Because you are an esteemed member of The Grant County Beat readership, be assured that we at the Beat continue to do everything we can to be in full compliance with GDPR and pertinent US law, so that the information you have chosen to give to us cannot be compromised.