Family Story: Moonshine and Friendship

mason water

Recently we had a woman’s getaway at my Dad’s Bed and Breakfast (home); Bowen Farm, in Eastern Kentucky. It was my cousin, my younger sister, two of my cousin’s friends and myself. We had a great time as always: laughing, hugging, teasing my dad. I had the added benefit of seeing my son that is now apprenticing with my dad.

Our pleasure of the weekend included 4 wheeling in the snow with my uncle, telling and listening to stories. My dad is always at the ready with great stories about our family and most I have heard a thousand times over. Some I had asked him to tell the ladies that had not heard them before and one my cousin asked him to tell that I had never heard before. I was shocked. How is it i possible that one of dad’s stories… a story about our family, my papaw even, that I had never heard before?
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My dad was born in 1943 and he was the second child of five boys. So this is sometime in the late forties, early fifties… I did not get a year on it. Being that my papaw was an old root in the Appalachia, he survived and provided the best way he knew how; farming, husbandry and moonshining. Only later in life would the later profit him in politics.

Papaw Bowen and his friend, Jud Jones, ran a moonshine still. My dad recalls going to pick up truckloads of sugar and corn meal. The proprietor always commented, “Oh, the Missus canning” as these are the same ingredients for dry oven canning and seasons are aligned. They tried to be wise and steer revenue away from their operation. by loading the ingredients onto a canoe and ride down to the other side where their still lay hidden.

Eventually, they were caught and jailed. When they came before the judge, the lawyer continued to press the point to the judge that my Papaw had four young sons and a farm to tend to. The judge called all the parties to the bench and struck a deal that Jud could accept or refuse. He would release Papaw if Jud accepted both their sentences for moonshining, so that Papaw could go home to provide for his wife and boys.

Jud accepted the deal and did the time for both of them. Upon his release, our papaw was forever indebted to him. Jud never took advantage of the situation, but he was always welcomed at my Papaw’s and was given whatever he asked. This is the way the people of Eastern Kentucky are; friends til the end, always have each other’s back and will give you their life.

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