Saturday, April 28, 2012
Friday, April 27, 2012
Sunday, April 25, 2010
A moonshine still.
There it was all set up. I had never seen anything like that before. It was a moonshine still and to me it was a thing of beauty.There was one big steel barrel with about all of the top cut out of it. There was another big steel barrel with a big curly copper pipe going down in it. At the bottom of the barrel the copper pipe stuck out and between the two big barrels was a little barrel.
Setting right in the middle was something like I had never seen before. I knew what it was but I had never seen one. It was a moonshine still. I could see four big fifty five gallon metal barrels and one metal water bucket. Now the big metal barrels were setting up on big rocks. I could also see a big pile of firewood in the back of the building.
Art walked over to the wood pile and got him a big load of kindling wood. Then he walked back to the big barrel that was full of water. He got down on his knees and with a Zippo cigarette lighter he set the paper on fire. Then Art put the paper in under the barrel and on top of the paper he put the kindling. After that he got bigger pieces of wood. The fire began to get bigger. By this time it was getting smoky in the building so Art said, “Tony open the door so the smoke can get out. After the fire gets caught up good it will not smoke so much.”
After they got dough all the way around the wash tub, Art began hooking up the copper arms. After he did that he got more dough and dabbed it around the copper arms where they connected into the barrels. I asked Art what that little barrel did that set in between the two big barrels. Art said, “That’s the Thump Keg, some people call it a thumper.” I asked, “What does it do?” He said, “The licker boils for the second time in the thumper and that way you don’t have to double it back and boil it again.” I nodded my head up and down to let Art know that I knew what he was talking about but really I didn’t know.
Art got all the jugs out of the sack and set them all down on the ground. He looked at me and Mom and said, “Well all we can do now is keep the fire going and wait.”
"Marie we are not going to have time to run the other barrel of beer tonight. It will be getting daylight in a few more hours and we don’t need no smoke in this holler. If we put the fire out now the smoke will be gone by daylight."
In a minute or two we could see what looked like to me a little clear stream of water coming out of the worm and into the quart Mason jar. The little stream was about as big around as a kitchen match.
When the quart jar got full of moonshine Art poured it into a glass gallon jug.
Art had a little half pint whiskey bottle and when the quart jar got full he poured some whiskey out of the quart jar into the half pint bottle. He shook the little bottle up and down three times and held it up to the light so he could see it. He said, "Just look at that bead on that, she’s got a high bead and that’s good. The higher the better.” Mom was busy keeping wood in the fire and keeping the hot water dipped out of the worm barrel. I was busy packing water.
The smell of moonshine was in the damp night air. Even though we were tired and sleepy we were working hard. Mom was keeping the fire going and she was also keeping the hot water dipped out of the worm barrel. I was packing water from the branch and Art was checking for steam leaks and pouring the moonshine out of the quart jar and into the gallon jugs.
Even with all of that, me and Mom and Art ran off two barrels about every week. Just as quick as we would get it run off Mom’s brother Melvin would be there to buy it all.