When I'm asked to speak at an event, I often talk for a few minutes and then open up the floor for questions. They can get very lively and it makes for a lot of fun.
Not long ago I was the speaker at a yearly luncheon for a library up north of us and opened it up for questions. Several hands went up and I chose a little gray haired lady on the front row for the first question.
"I just read Sweet Tilly. Did you ever really make moonshine? It sure sounded like you knew what you were talkin' about," she said.
Well, it all happened like this. My step father, my Poppa, was twice my mother's age and back in prohibition days he did a little time at Leavenworth for making shine. When Mama married him, I was about twelve years old and he told me all about how to make moonshine. A year or so went by and my younger brother and I decided that we'd see if we could make it on what information he'd given us.
The garden was done for the summer and Mama wasn't going to be using the twenty five quart pickling crock anymore so we hauled it down into the cellar and set up a mash with some cornmeal, a little sugar and some yeast. In a few days it was bubbling just about right so we found the copper tubing out in the shed and got ready to still it off.
We came home from school the very evening we'd planned on setting a fire in the cellar and our mash was gone. Not a sign of it or the pickling crock or even an indention in the floor where it had been setting. We sniffed the air and there we couldn't even get a whiff of the sour mash that had been there the day before.
To say the least, neither one of us wanted to go to the supper table that night. No sir! But we did, fully well expecting to be in big trouble but not a single word was said. Poppa acted like nothing had happened. Mama didn't even mention it. And my brother, Douglas, and I sure did not say one word!
And now as Paul Harvey used to say, the rest of the story: About fifteen years later we got up the nerve to ask him about the mash and he laughed until tears flowed down his cheeks. "I smelled what I thought was mash when a good south wind was blowin' that day. I went down in the cellar and found what you kids had done. I fed it to the hogs and sold off all the copper tubing on the place. But I got to tell you, I did not have a sick pig all winter that year."