This Southern Belle's Musings

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Wednesday, February 25, 2004

In The Heart Of Dixie 

Q:   How Are a Texas Tornado And a Tennessee Divorce The Same?
A:   Somebody's Gonna Lose A Trailer!

Q:   What Lies At The Bottom Of The Ocean And Twitches?
A:   A Nervous Wreck!

Southerners can laugh at anything.    Often, it is at themselves, friends, relatives, acquaintances, or just something they read in the local paper.    If you don't believe that, just take a look at the following:

Georgia Moonshine Lingers On
by Stump Martin, Staff Writer
Chattanooga, TN Times Free Press

Northwest Georgia lawmen agree the glory days of moonshine operations are over, but illicit stills are turning up with a bit more regularity in the rural mountains, and closer to town, too.

Georgia Department of Revenue Agent Shawn Douglas said there’s "a resurgence of moonshine."

"We bust 25 to 30 stills statewide a year," he said.   "But there’s a lot more out there.    If we had the manpower, we could get a lot more."

Dade County Sheriff Philip Street busted two brothers and destroyed their moonshine still on the side of Sand Mountain last year.    The sheriff said they both pleaded guilty and are now on probation.

Sheriff Street said it was a "family tradition" with the brothers.

"They had been making whiskey since they were kids," he said.    "But there are more people than them out there making it."

Gordon County deputies discovered more than 200 gallons of corn liquor inside in an abandoned house, and another 118 gallons of the untaxed liquor in the back of a pickup in downtown Resaca late last year.

Clint Harris of the Gordon County sheriff’s department said the still was "busted up just like the days of old.    We haven’t had one of those here in 20 years."

A 66-year-old man was arrested and charged with possession and manufacturing of distilled spirits.

Mr. Douglas deals with alcohol, tobacco and coin-operated amusement machine violations in the western half of the state.

He said moonshine "is not a priority right now."

About the only time moonshine is a concern, he said, is when health issues are the cause.    "A couple of years ago we had four deaths in Meriwether County from lead poisoning caused by bad moonshine," he said.

Mr. Douglas said his agency worked to get "the shine out of the shot houses and juke joints."    He said Union County on the North Carolina border and Echols on the Florida line are the only Georgia counties that remain "dry."

In the old days when most counties made the sale of any alcohol illegal, he said moonshiners were tough to catch because there was a code of ethics among the corn whiskey makers.

"Drug dealers will roll over on each other, but moonshiners will sit right there in jail rather than tell you where his buddy’s still is," Mr. Douglas said.

Former Chattooga County Sheriff Gary McConnell said 40 years ago moonshine was a "major economy" in his county.

Back then, most Northwest Georgia counties were "dry."

Mr. McConnell, director of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency until last year, said he saw his first moonshine still on Jan. 1, 1965, when his father, John Frank McConnell, took over as the Chattooga County sheriff.

The younger McConnell was a deputy for his father.

"We busted 105 stills in the next 52 weeks," he said.    "'White lightning' was referred to as 'The King' in Chattooga County back then."    He said his dad was elected to rid the county of the bootleggers and stills that supplied white lightning from Atlanta to Chattanooga at $7 to $8 a gallon.

"The stills were everywhere," Mr. McConnell said.    "You would drive down the road and see a trail and follow it and you would find a still."

He was elected to replace his father when the elder McConnell died in office, and at 21 was the youngest sheriff ever elected in Georgia.    Mr. McConnell said some of the bootleggers would bury their stock.    He said others would take window sills out of their houses, store the bottles of liquor in the walls and replace the sills.

(c) 2004 Chattanooga Times Free Press

So, why not take a few minutes to laugh at what Southerners know to be just another day in the South?    You can even check out Moonshine -- How To Make It, if you're so inclined.    Have a GREAT day!

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(c) 2004 A Southern Belle's Life

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