Teatotaler in Moonshine

My family, both sides, are tea-totalers, meaning they abstain from alcohol.  My mother would not even use vanilla extract in her cooking because she said it contained alcohol.  It’s true.  [I was in Madagascar visiting a friend many years ago and saw the bottling and manufacture of the native vanilla bean.]  Growing up a Southern Baptist, Holy Communion was all about grape juice and small pieces of white bread (blood and body of Christ).  Neither my father, a preacher, nor my mother (she also had been a preacher in the ‘hollers and criks’ of the Smokey Mountains during the 1940’s where they called her the ‘Little Devil Woman’–another story) never really had a good explanation for the biblical miracle story of Jesus turning water into wine.  I’ve been to Israel, they have wine there, and Israeli’s drink it.  Muslim Palestinians don’t, at least openly.  Christian Palestinians often do.  So there, make of it what you will. 

Imagine my surprise to find a cellar in the Stage Coach Cabin with a hidden entrance; and, to learn that during the 1930’s there was a still and the cabin had been used as a speak-easy–a place to buy and drink home-brewed whiskey, AKA white-lightnin’.  My neighbors confirm this. 

Prohibition lasted from 1920-1933, but folks in the mountains have always  ‘made their own.’  In the first image from the Library of Congress [“The moonshine man” of Kentucky [Composite of 5 scenes of moonshining showing man cutting down tree, man mixing ingredients, moonshiner held captive by 3 men, 3 men on horseback begging for breakfast from framer and boy holding jug by still house: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/99614166/%5D

At first inspection, we found the cellar as one might expect (photo 1), a dug-out with old shelving filled with various kinds of bottles, a kerosene heater, and even the old well hand water pump.  Down the hill and beside the creek (crik), my neighbors led me to the old ‘spring house’ (2) which was used to keep milk and eggs cool in the summer.  I have later learned that his was a water catchment design.

There is potential in the cellar.  I enlisted my grandson Zach, who wanted to earn money to buy a car, to dig the cellar out (3) for later use.  He is a tall guy.  He kept hitting his head on the floor joists, so instead of ducking he decided he would dig down a foot deeper so he wouldn’t hit is head. Excellent for us all. 

Caleb, another grandson, helped dig and also sprayed Borate on all the joists (more on the joists in another post), and Evan–my grandson-godson–helped my put a paver floor and walls to the cellar (4).

Finally, I cut a trapdoor into the cellar (5 w/ my grandson Sam) and we are closing the original entrance.  This weekend it was wired with lights and several sockets.  So now you know the secret cellar below the Stage Coach Cabin floor.

And Me?  I enjoy my dinner in solitude cooked on my portable gas stove on the deck outside the Little Shed.  And, I think I may have a pretty good survival/wine shelter!  Sorry Mom and Dad.