Carded vs Proofed

Mark Odegard markodegard at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri May 25 01:45:39 UTC 2001

The 26th Amendment (18-year-old vote) was ratified in 1971. Shortly
thereafter, there was a general lowering of the drinking age to 18 (which
has since been undone). This was when something like half the country was
under 25 if I recall correctly; we were exporting huge numbers of teenagers
to stop bullets in 'Nam.

I first heard 'to card', 'carding' about the time most states experimented
with letting 18-year-olds drink.

As I think about it, an under-18 is harder to tell from an under-21, if only
because of they way they dress. At 21, you can graduated from college,
working, starting a family; at 18, you're still a party-animal wannabe.

This is about the time we needed the verb 'card'.

I still think it came from 'draft card', coined then by those who remembered
times when lots of under-21 males still lacked a drivers license. It could
also have derived from asking 18-year-olds for their draft card to buy
tobacco, which perhaps makes it more recent. But this is just speculation.

>I grew up in central Westchester (New York State, c. 30 miles north of
>Times Square) and attended college in central New York State (Cornell). The
>only term for this that I recall is "carding". Of course, the drinking age
>was 18 when I graduated high school and enrolled at Cornell, so I don't
>recall much fear of being carded. I honestly don't recall when I first
>encountered the term, but I do remember the first time I was carded (I
>dropped into a liquor store by campus to pick up some cooking sherry for a
>friend); in particular, I don't remember whether I would have described
>this as being carded or as being asked for ID.
>Alice Faber
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