Wednesday, February 13, 2013
By MORRIS STEPHENSON -
Ever since "A Night of Makin' Likker" came out or "hit the streets" as they say, a lot of people have stopped me to share a story or two related to moonshining. Some of the folks were involved in the profession in one way or another, either making, hauling or perhaps as a consumer. Other stories by members of a younger generation have told of their experiences involving their relatives or even parents.
Audrey Maxey was among the first to share a couple of her experiences. Daniel Young has related a few. Not many days go by that I don't talk with someone different who is willing and enjoys sharing their memories.
Then one day someone, I can't recall exactly who it was, suggested I should write another book composed of only stories from family members who were willing to share their stories. Of course, I want true stories or ones that have been passed down through the immediate family. A "hear-say" story is not what I'm looking for.
A week or so later, I was talking on the telephone with Roddy Moore, director of the Blue Ridge Institute, who said, "You know what you ought to do? Get a tape recorder and go around the county talking with people who will share moonshine stories with you," he said.
I guess his suggestion built a fire under me so I've decided to go in search of both old and young who are willing to help me get this project off the ground. If I don't get any or just a few replies from this column, then I'll drop the idea. If the response is good, then I'll press on and see how far I can take this idea. Of course to be successful at this, I'll do what I always did in the newspaper business. I'll go out to the far corners of the county to chase down a good story. Or anyone who wants to drop by my office when they come to town is invited to stop by Bill Greer's computer/vending building next door to Fisher Auto Parts on North Main. We can carry on a conversation here without being interrupted unless it's by someone wanting to purchase a book, of course.
Needless to say, I'm always interested in any old moonshine still photos that may have been handed down through the family over the years. I would only need to borrow the photos for a few hours in order to make a copy. And the photo will be returned to you in the same shape as I got it. In fact, I might even be able to improve a picture by making it darker, lighter, etc.
I haven't actually gotten a handle on how all of this will be put together, but one thought that's come to mind is doing chapters based on the last name of families...perhaps starting with their last name.
Over and over again, people keep reminding me of something I've known for a long time. Not many days go by that I don't read or hear that someone who was involved in the illegal whiskey trade had passed away. A part of history is gone never to be reclaimed.
I'm so serious about this project that I'm going to put my cell phone number out to the readers of this column (if you don't have that info already). Anyone interested in sharing a story or two can give me a ring at 420-2499. Or stop by the office if you see "Goldie" parked out front. If I'm not in the office, then I'll probably be at the P.O. mailing books or simply cruisin' town. However, if you give me a call on the cell, I can usually call back in a matter of a few minutes. It's not like I make frequent trips to Penhook, Snow Creek, Boones Mill or Hardy.
To be honest, I'm excited about the possibilities, seeing how much interest this project could create. The main thing is, I'd like to urge anyone interested in sharing these stories not to put off contacting me. I can tell you of one instance after another where I've delayed doing a story and the person dies before I get around to it.
As my father always said, "Son, don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today!" Truer words have never been spoken. "So put that in your pipe and smoke it," as folks would say.
I will be awaiting your call.
Blinding Sun- I know I'm not the only one having this problem, especially since the time change.
While taking photographs in the area over the years, I know the different paths the sun takes during the summer and winter months. I now understand how the sun doesn't actually rise high in the sky during the winter. It just comes up to a certain point and then moves from east to west.
So if you're driving west every day about quitting time, the the sun is blinding until it finally dips behind the mountains. Driving home to Ferrum from Rocky Mount is a real pain if the sun doesn't have any competition from the clouds. Then if there are hills along the route you're taking, the problem doubles. If you're topping a hill, you can't see the traffic in the shadows in front of you.
A couple of times last week when I was a little later getting home, there is one place on Route 40 West, just before reaching the Ferrum VFD building, that's really dangerous. Twice, the sun was setting behind the high place on the highway and I'm looking straight into the sun, which is disappearing behind the asphalt! It's impossible to see approaching traffic as I try to make a left turn. Motorists heading east can see Goldie without any problem. I can see nothing and it's hard picking up the outside white line to use as a guide.
In such cases, I always give a turn signal some distance back from where I usually turn it on. Hopefully, every vehicle behind the one behind me will do the same. If not, there could be a serious chain reaction at quitting time.
The other day I was facing the sun, heading into a shadowed stretch of the highway and had no clue there was a vehicle in the shadows going to make a turn...without giving a flashing signal. If I'd been traveling a little faster, I would have rear-ended the car for certain.
It probably would be a good idea for everyone traveling east or west in the late afternoon to turn on the headlights. Of course, Chevy drivers have lights on all the time I've come to learn. I still feel a little stupid flipping the little knob but I have some comfort in making such a move.
The only other option is just to moan and groan or accept the driving conditions until we set the clocks ahead again. Until then, I think I'll just moan and groan and hope I can remain accident free.
As Gene Autry would sing, "Happy Trails to You."
A Happy Birthday goes out to my friend Cecil Love, who turned 85 on Monday. He's recovered from his fall and short hospital stay and is good to go with his driver's license after failing the first eye exam at the DMV. And it won't be long before he will complete his 12-months probation sentence with no problems. As he tells people, "I'm on my best behavior."