Sunday, October 03, 2004

Pruneshine

I was thinkin' about my Cousin Peanut the other day and remembered the time he decided to be a moonshiner.  Now Peanut wasn't the brightest star in the Chappell family, as I have told y'all before.  When he told me he was buildin' a still...well, I shuddered to say the least.  I could just see ol' Peanut layin' on some hillside all blowed up an' all from some sorry ol' still.

When I went over off Booger Holler to see his handiwork I was plumb shocked.  Not only did he make a still, it was some kind o' fancy still.  He had gone over the Fort Knox and bought a surplus jet fuel tank and had put all sorts of copper tubin' on it along with pressure gages an' works that made one first class still.

He had taken some of his Daddy's field corn an' sprouted it to run a small batch.  He also had got into his Mama's sugar to run the test batch.  He told me he planned on sellin' the batch, replacin' the corn an' sugar an' buyin' his own supplies.

The first batch had run off an' he was skimmin' the foam an' all off the top.  That is what we call "headpop" an' you don't want to even get near that stuff.  It tastes bad an' will get a feller sicker than a dog.  The shine beaded up real nice an' told him it was a pure batch.

Cousin Peanut gave me a little ol' mason jar half full to take home.  He know I don't drink the stuff, but my Daddy put rock candy an' lemon juice in shine to make some awful good cough syrup.  Daddy seemed to get the cough right often when he had his homemade cough syrup.

I did let it set for a week or two before Daddy mixed up the cough syrup.  When he tried a sip of the shine he declared it the best he ever had tasted.  We thought Cousin Peanut had found his callin'.

Heck, he even washed his hands as he was makin' the shine.

Peanut sold that whole batch an' went to town to get supplies.  He replaced his daddy Vergie's field corn an' his Mama didn't even miss the sugar.  His next batch was just as good an' word spread about Peanut's shine.  Folks came from as far as Kingdom Come an' Hell for Certain, Bullskin an' over to Teges Creek to buy a mason jar full of pure, clear moonshine from Cousin Peanut.

Then Dobson's had a run on sugar at the end of summer when all the womenfolk started puttin' up muscadine jelly.  The muscadine grapes had been plentiful an' there is no better jelly than muscadine grape jelly (muscadine wine ain't bad, either).  Them womenfolk knew they better make all they could.  The Farmer's Almanac said it was going to be a bad winter an' folks might not see as many grapes next year.

So, when Peanut went to town to buy supplies for the next batch, they was very little sugar.  An' to beat it all, Knuckles Feed Store was out of corn.

Cousin Peanut was resourceful.  He went to every little store around my hometown of Beloved an' bought sugar in little bags till he had enough.

Corn was a different matter.  There was no corn to be had.  Then Peanut had an idea.  He heard they were givin' out commodity cheese an so on.  Sometimes they gave out other commodities, so Peanut went over.

They had no corn, but Lizzie Bishop, the woman that ran the commodity program told Peanut she had over 500 pounds of dried prunes no one wanted.

Peanut took 'em an' made his way over to Booger Holler where he started soakin' them prunes in pure branch water till they swelled up right nice.  He then put them in his jet fuel tank boiler with a little yeast to let them ferment.

Cousins, I have to tell you that the shine he made was some of the prettiest stuff ever to come out of a still.  It was deep purple, almost black an' clear as a moonlit night with not a bit of floatin' stuff in the bottom.

It tasted pretty good too.

Folks came around all day Saturday to buy some of Peanut's new shine.  Ol' Hap Collins laughed an' said it weren't moonshine, it were "Pruneshine" an' the name stuck.

Cousin Peanut had 147 quarts of the stuff an' sold it all that very day.  It tasted so good that folks sat on porches an' in barns drinkin' it all day an into the night.

Then the s#$t hit the fan, so to speak.

What Cousin Peanut did not realize was that as he cooked down them prunes, their medicinal qualities were concentrated.  Peanut had made the strongest, most potent laxative liquor ever known to mankind.

The next day was Sunday an' churches showed the effect of Cousin Peanut's Pruneshine.  Dozens of men, hundreds even failed to show up to take their traditional place at the Baptist Church, the Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church, shucks, even Brother Woodrow Budder over to the Booger Holler holiness Church noticed a dip in men folks comin' to church.

All over my hometown of Beloved the same scene happened; folks would go to bed with a pleasant buzz in their head.  A few hours later, eyelids would fly open as would back doors as men...an' quite a few women made a run for the little shack out back.

'Bout the time they would finally start back the path to go in an' back to bed...the prune shine would grab their guts again.  Most folks finally jus' got comfortable an stayed in the outhouse readin' the magazines left there.  If your drove up any creek in the county you could tell who bought Pruneshine from the moanin' comin' from the outhouses.

That ended Cousin Peanut's moonshinin' venture, but I heard that Procter and Gamble bought the recipe from Cousin Peanut an' sell it even today for relief of constipation.
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