05 March 2012

Overheard During My Childhood

"Practically nobody can hold their moonshine."

It was most likely at Granpa Jones' place where I heard that. He wasn't none of us' granpa, but we all used to pile in the car and drive out a dirt path through the trees, to where he lived way back in his own private holler. I'd think he had to have a still; I know he always had moonshine.

This is what a "still" usually looked like
 back then. Now there's lots of plastic.
That's a picnic cooler used below.

Unlike how it's shown in movies and TV, moonshine is
not always clear. The jars  above hold Lemonade and
Apple Pie moonshine—"Gourmet Hooch," you might say.
Sure as sh-t, the hooch goes in
Mason Jars—that's not just in
the movies and on TV.
Granpa Jones' house (more a cabin) had a great big porch we all set on at night. This was back when there was lightning bugs. Big clouds of them. While the grown-ups drank and smoked and hollered and fought, us kids would catch the bugs in jars and peel the bellies off and stick the glowing blobs on our ring fingers. Then we'd pretend to get married. . . .

On any night, riding out to Granpa's in the car, we'd have my parents and me, some of my cousins, another set of parents, and their four kids. By the end of the night, all the grown-ups were stinking drunk, some were even sick, and one of us kids would have to drive the car back home. We could hardly see over the wheel.
Rogovin, Appalachia 1969, detail

I remember one of the boys having to drive and he was absolutely terrified. He was afraid the grown-ups would yell if they knew he was scared. But they weren't much concentrating on us. They were still all hollering and coughing. Someone threw up.

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