Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Way Back Machine

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The time: Late 1930's, early 1940's
The place: The pineywoods of the Florida panhandle.


Here's my great-uncle Jack. He was a real character and a businessman of sorts. His business? Distiller of spirits, a.k.a. moonshiner!

He took himself seriously and as you can see he'd show up at the job site in a three piece suit! He kept meticulous records and receipts for the smallest items. I have some of them and they are included in the design of my banner.

Uncle Jack lived in a very nice dog-trot style house. These houses had a hallway that cut through the center of the house, open to the outside. In the north we would call such a hallway a breezeway. Each room of the house was accessible from this hallway. The rooms on each side were connected. The name derived from the fact that the hound dogs would lounge and trot down this hallway.

His property was beautiful with large palettos in the yard. And he had his own gas pump out near one of the outbuildings! I'd never seen anything like it but in the country (and in his line of business) he needed access to fuel.

I related this story to someone who was appalled that I would admit to having this particular skeleton in my closet. Skeleton? I didn't feel it was a skeleton. He was a real live character straight out of the American south. And besides, I've never been into revisionist history.

13 comments:

Farmchick said...

Here in Kentucky we have a lot of moonshine history. Virtually everyone has a person in their family history that was a bootlegger/moonshiner. I love dogtrot log cabins and we have several historic examples in the county where I live.

The Blue Ridge Gal said...

I think it's wonderful that you have so much information about him and that he was such a great businessman. Moonshiner or not, he was a successful man and most likely well respected.

Di
The Blue Ridge Gal

LIBERTY POST EDITOR said...

I love ambitious men.

martina said...

Isn't this style of home also called shotgun? Every photo of Grandpa shows him in a nice shirt and tie-except when he was plowing with the Percherons.

Amber said...

I love skeletons...My Family (Cyrus) on my maternal grandma's side had a LADY who ran a house of ill repute. A family member published a book on the ancestors, and a lady of the family was so embarrased that she tore the pages out of her copy of the book, and woyuldn't allow her family to purchase it. I think its cool when a family has skeletons in the closet...

Marilyn said...

How great thet you have all this information, and the records to go with it!
I think you are very lucky : )

Cindy La Ferle said...

Moonshine! I share your love of family characters, and I love to open all of my family closets too. And I have a moonshine story for you. When I worked for a publishing company in Detroit several yrs ago, I was sent to Kingsport, TN, to visit one of our major book manufacturers/printers. My production editor and I were wined and dined at an honest-to-goodness hoe-down sponsored by the company. At that event we were given samples of moonshine -- and our printing rep set in on fire at the table for us. We had a blast, of course! I didn't feel so well on the plane back to Detroit, but the good time was worth it.

Cottage Rose said...

Hey Suzanne; What a great photo of your uncle. It is so great that you know so much about your family. I wish I knew mine as well. I love reading about your family history, so keep it going no matter others might think.....

Hugs;
Alaura

Anonymous said...

You forgot to tell them about the dog that used to sleep in a basket that hung from the ceiling, and the had a pet squirrel that lived in the house. I remember that from when we were kids and went to visit. Your sis.

LDF said...

Hey, we have something in common! I've got moonshinin' skeletons in my family closet too! And he was a snappy dresser too ... always wore snazzy sleeve garters!

Vee said...

Ha! You have the most interesting characters in your family. That you're not into revisionist history is a great blessing to your readers! What happened to your photos? (I can't see your header anymore or your sidebar pics.)

Trish said...

Oh I love history...and what better history than that which we have a connection to. What a great post today! I love the photo too. You should write history books...as you write with great description. I did not know that about the houses....interesting ...

Jody Blue said...

I love it when you can touch the history that has made this country so unique. My Grmpa and his brother had a still in central Minnesota, they buried it before they went to WW1, they dug it up when they came home but never found the moonshine they had buried. My uncle has the still now.