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The Rose Knows – May 2018

The people of the Appalachians have a storied past full of great “spirits.” The Scotch-Irish brought their whisky-making skills from the Old World to the Blue Ridge Mountains. The love of freedom and a rebellions spirit seem to be part of our DNA and is at the heart of the distilling of home brew, especially corn whiskey.

Local Spirits

In the 20th century, moral objectives to alcohol consumption gained momentum in the Temperance Movement and resulted in the 18th Amendment that called for a nationwide ban on the production transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages. Unfortunately, this well-meaning ban unleashed a crime wave across the country. Moonshine thrived in the Appalachians. Bootleggers, as they were called, provided liquor that was put in small fn small flasks that could slide in the calf of one’s boot. All of the lawlessness of the 1920’s led to the repeal of the 18th Amendment in 1933 and the 21st Amendment left prohibition up to the states. North Carolina did not ratify the 21st Amendment until 1937, but many North Carolina counties remained “dry” for decades.

The mountains of North Carolina flourished in the illegal liquor trade throughout the 20th century. Few can argue that hauling bootlegged whiskey was the progenitor of stock car auto racing – now called NASCAR. Poor “good ole boys” souped up their cars to haul illegal whiskey and outrun the law. This led to racing one another on the highways. Junior Johnson is the most famous early bootlegger to make a name for himself in NASCAR. He was one of the original inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte.

One of the more recent colorful characters in the moonshine trade was Marvin Sutton, better known as “Popcorn.” He received this alias when he hit a vending machine with a cue stick because it took his money and would not release his bag of popcorn. Popcorn ran his “corn likker” business out of his junk shop in Maggie Valley. His business was rather lucrative, but as he himself noted, “My big mouth did me in. I bragged to a man I had 500 gallons of moonshine in Tennessee and 400 gallons in Maggie Valley. I didn’t know I was blabbing to an undercover officer!” Popcorn was jailed; he plead guilty and was given eighteen months in prison, but he did not serve his time. He had cancer and decided his time was up. He rigged a hose in his green Ford Fairlane, so carbon monoxide could put him down peacefully.

In the Spirit of Progress

Here at Tudor Croft, construction continues without the aid of distilled spirits hidden in the legs of work boots. Clear heads are necessary for quality homes for our residents.

In these crisp spring days, May’s flower, the lily of the valley’s small delicate, white bell-shaped blooms gives us the promise of warmer days ahead. As our Tudor Croft community continues to grow, sitting a spell with our neighbors sipping a bit of “home brew” might just be the perfect nightcap.

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