Eight years in the Navy taught me a lot. Being back home taught me even more.
I experienced the stresses of war, learned the true value of peace, and in my travels may have had a drink or two.
After I was Honorably Discharged from Uncle Sam’s Party On the High Seas, I came back home to Tennessee, and began civilian life as a carpenter.
I settled into working with my hands until, one day, an old friend called me up to ask if I could help him build a porch onto his mountain cabin. I agreed, not knowing that that porch was going to change my life! We worked hard that day, and celebrated by grilling burgers and breaking out an ice-cold mason jar of moonshine. As we drank, we talked about his family’s tradition of moonshining.
His family used to sell their moonshine to the men that worked on the rail road and said that the engineers would stop at a specified place along the route and blow their whistle so that they could run jars of 'shine out to the trains. They ran all over these hills and mountains selling their shine and staying one step ahead of the law.
Those stories got me excited! I asked him if he would be interested in teaching me how to make the stuff and the next thing I knew, there was a still set up in the dairy barn! ‘Shine School’ was in full session! Now, when I started, it was my understanding that I could make up to five gallons a year for my personal use. But, all that went down the drain the day the Sheriff came knocking on my door.
Our county's newly elected Sherriff's raid included deputies, a trailer to load my equipment, and a booking for illegal moonshining. Buddy, I was far from happy watching them pour out my liquid gold all over the ground. Some good did come from it though; I ended up writing a song called, “Whiskey Fountain" and a good friend who's an attorney was able to do some fancy work and have all of the charges against me dismissed. I was off the hook and our Sheriff got a tremendous amount of publicity out of the event. Why, it's even rumored that part of my still sits in his office to this day!
After the dust settled, I returned to carpentry. I never forgot how much I enjoyed making that 'shine and when I was asked to come on at SMD; well, I just couldn't resist. I'm on the right side of the law now, but my shine's so good it ought to be illegal. Come on out and hear a story or two, try my shine, and see what I'm cooking up next.