Friday, May 23, 2014

Moonshine Warning

“…with streams of the clearest, coldest water, apples, and corn in abundance, nature seems to invite one to make a doubling or two for your own use.”
                                                           --Revenue Agent, 1904

Ruth Ann Musick is my favorite folklorist from West Virginia. She is deceased, but I always wonder if she might one day return as a ghost for her favorite tales to collect were ghost stories.

She often told the following story…

During Prohibition, stills and moonshiners could be found all over West Virginia.

One still was located in Smith Hollow. Charley Smith, who built this still was an odd sort. He was a confirmed bachelor and had only one true friend--Jim Hayward.

Both men lived in Smith Hollow and most every Friday at midnight Charley would make moonshine. Charley and Jim were the only two who knew where this still was located, so Charley had Jim stand watch while he made the corn liquor.

The two men had an agreement that if Jim spotted someone coming up the path, he would whistle like a whippoorwill. On several occasions, he had warned Charley with this signal.

After Charley made the liquor the two men would grab tin cups, they hid in a nearby oak tree, and drink their weekly portion. Jim started to resent Charley for he noticed his friend poured himself twice as much as he gave him.

He became more and more bitter but he never expressed his displeasure because he feared Charley would stop sharing his liquor.

Jim, a much older man, died one snowy Friday evening. Charley continued to make his weekly treks to the still. The Friday after Jim died, something unusual happened while Charley made a batch of liquor --he heard the familiar whistle of a whippoorwill.

Immediately he blew out his lantern and hid. After a few minutes, he called out, “Jim, Jim. Is that you, Jim?”

Charley heard the sound of the whippoorwill again and then the clatter of tin cups. Then all was silent. After this, every Friday night, Charley listened to the call of the whippoorwill and then the sound of tin cups banging together.

A year later, Charley was up at the still making his usual batch of liquor when something extra happened. He heard the sound of the whippoorwill and the tin cups hit, but this night he glanced over at the oak tree.

To his amazement, he saw Jim standing there holding a tin cup. Jim saluted Charley and said, “I finally got my fair share of the moonshine.” He then disappeared still holding the tin cup.

Terrified Charley ran all the way back to his cabin. He never again heard the sound of the whippoorwill or the clatter of tin cups. Jim apparently satisfied--never made another appearance.

1 comment:

Leona Joan said...

Wonderful, funny story. 😎