#SoCS – 9/30/2017 – Mountain Dew


When I was growing up in northeastern Kentucky, I was fortunate enough to know my grandfather, who lived deep in the heart of Appalachia. He lived only until I was 23 years of age, but I was lucky enough to be old enough to have talked to him. Really talked to him. Conversations that, to me, were important. He was a fine man. Moral, ethical, smart. I’d like to write about him and men like him some day.

There were so many things that I never had the chance or knowledge to talk to him about. My mother, his daughter, told me stories about him. Not enough stories. I wish I knew more. One story that she told me was that my grandfather was determined that she and her seven siblings would never be involved in two endeavors that were prominent in those days in southeastern Kentucky. They would never work in the coal mines and they would never be engaged in the production of “mountain dew.”

Mountain Dew. Not the soft drink. Mountain dew is the slang term for homemade liquor or moonshine, corn liquor, hooch, and a dozen other names. Southeastern Kentucky was “dry.” In other words, liquor could not be sold legally. People made their own and made it for other people. There were stills to make the liquor hidden all over the mountains that were characteristic of the area. Moonshine is 100 percent alcohol and is still made in those mountains.

My grandfather was successful. All of his children left the area, at least long enough to get a college education. My grandfather, himself, got what passed for a college education in his day and was an advocate of higher education for his entire life.


  1. Having, and achieving such a goal for his children had to be hard. I’m glad he was able to get it done. He sounds like he must have been an interesting man. I’m glad you got to know him as well as you did.

    Thanks for joining us today, and for sharing a little of this interesting man’s story.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mentions of fond memories of your grandfather helps me to recall the good influence of my grandfather in Clay County, Ky. Christopher Columbus Burns. known to me as Poppy, had 1500 acres of timberland at the head of Little Bullskin Creek in Clay Count, about four miles from the little town of Oneida, which was home to Oneida Baptist Institute. He had a tremendous influence on me. I learned to drive using one of his logging trucks and I also remember he had a 1940 Chevrolet coupe and I would drive him to town or the county seat for business or just to visit a friend. He never learned to drive but he was a good teacher of very practical things about planting crops, taking care of livestock, harvesting and storing crops, and managing a crew of loggers, truck drivers, and handymen. He died in 1972 at the age of 90. I learned a lot about life and living from him.

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    1. He sounds so much like my grandfather, who never learned to drive either. My grandmother, who was a wild woman, did all the driving. They had a big crew of men who worked their farm – tobacco and corn mostly. My grandmother supervised the men. My grandfather had oil and natural gas on his land and Ashland Oil (back then) was drilling it. He supervised all that. Wisely, when he sold the farm before he died, he kept the mineral rights. His legacy to all of us. Other companies still drill for oil there. He taught me so much too, particularly about politics. We have that in common, Barney.


  3. Grandparents are so important to how a child grows up. My grandson does not know me because of the divorce of his parents so long ago. My son tells me he is a good young man with a family of his own now. I am glad for that, although I wonder if he knew me he would feel differently about some things. I can only hope he is learning from my son.

    My grandfather and I did not talk much but that was only because of the language barrier. When I was a child we would take long walks together holding each other’s hand in silence.

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    1. Glynis, I am so sorry that you do not know your grandson. I wish somehow you or your son could fix that! I’m glad you have good memories of your grandfather, but if you only could have talked with him! My other grandfather and I had a bit of a language barrier as well. He had immigrated from Sweden. Somehow, though, he used to tell me stories with me sitting on his lap. He spoke little English, but somehow I understood.

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      1. My grandfather came to the US from Russia to avoid the Russian Revolution in 1914. His English was sparse but there were times when we would share our thoughts by pointing at different things when we would go walking.

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  4. This is making me remember my own grandfather who lived in Kentucky. It was a small town named Clinton. I rarely got to see him, maybe a handful of times throughout my childhood. Always fond memories, though. He passed away when I was around 20 and I have regrets for not getting to spend more time with them and learning more about him, though I know that was out of my control.

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    1. I believe Clinton is in the western or maybe southern part of the state, Jami? Yes, we all have regrets about such things. It was our parent’s responsibility to make it happen, but sometimes such things are even out of their control. Do you ever come back to KY?


      1. I believe it was Western…definitely southern. We would drive across the border to Tennessee to buy catfish. That was his claim to fame, fried catfish with hush puppies. I haven’t been there since I was a kid, but recently reconnected with my cousin who are used to only see at his house. She found me on Facebook and we talked about getting together, but I can’t imagine that I will actually travel to Kentucky to see her, but one never knows


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