“Shine” On

From the National Day Calendar:

Every June 5th is National Moonshine Day which recognizes a beverage with a notorious record of blurring the lines of history and the law, turning ordinary men (and women) into criminals and common criminals into legends.

Moonshine traditionally is an illegally distilled spirit. Mostly made from a corn mash, moonshine is a distilled whiskey that is typically produced by an individual illegally without a permit. Also known as white lightning, mountain dew, homebrew, hillbilly pop, rotgut, and too many more to list here.


Distilling skills first came to the United States with the Scotch-Irish as they settled in Virginia.

Temperance laws and prohibition legislation were passed in several states before the Civil War, but it wasn’t until the turn of the century that the temperance movement picked up steam. By the time the 18th Amendment was ratified early in 1919, over half the country was dry.

Prohibition lasted 13 years. It created a demand for moonshine, unlike any that may have existed before. Moonshine became big business overnight.

Modern Moonshine

These days, moonshine in the legal sense has a following.  Small-batch distilleries are producing legal moonshine giving moonshiners a new name.  Bringing moonshine out of the woods and going up against other whiskeys for a place on the shelf.  Many are packaging their homebrews in canning jars, embracing their rich history while at the same time experimenting with flavor and branching out with food pairing similar to that of wine and beer.

The Dukes

I first became familiar with moonshine when I started watching the Dukes of Hazzard. Uncle Jesse and Boss Hogg were old moonshining buddies before becoming “enemies.”

From the show I learned that it was alcohol and illegal. Moonshine always seemed to come in a jug marked with X’s. Here’s a little fact I learned while researching this blog:

The X’s on the moonshine jugs represent the number of times a batch was run through the still. If marked XXX, the moonshine is pure alcohol.

My Moonshine Experience

When I worked in Country Radio, I got to go to a lot of concerts. I almost always got to go back stage and meet the artists because we usually had things for them to autograph for charity auctions.

I was backstage at a Montgomery Gentry concert. We had finished the traditional Meet & Greet and I was heading back to my seat. The record rep called to me and asked me to hang backstage. We went and hung out with the guys on their bus. They had a cooler/fridge loaded with beer and alcoholic beverages.

When the guys got up on stage, we were all still hanging on their bus. By now, the opening act (I can’t recall who it was) had joined us on the bus. That’s when the mason jar came out.

They began to pass this jar around. The liquid inside was a brownish color and there was some kind of fruit in the bottom of it. The record guy asked me, “Ever had moonshine?” I assured him I hadn’t and he passed me the jar. I didn’t know what to expect.

It was obviously home made and it burned like nothing I had ever experienced as I swallowed it. It was SO strong and it tasted like turpentine (not that I have ever tasted that before). It was probably the nastiest stuff I have ever tasted. These guys were passing it around and swigging it like it was milk or something. I was lucky enough to only have to take one more sip, before passing it to my right. Every time it circled back to me, I’d just keep passing it and no one noticed.

A couple years ago, we were at a party where a friend had made “Apple Pie” moonshine. This was actually very good and truly tasted like a piece of apple pie!

I guess moonshine is sort of a “novelty” drink now as you can go to the store and find various flavors of it in the aisle with beer and wine. I’m going to guess that these are a whole lot milder than the stuff I had on that bus!



My grandparents had nicknames for everybody! In all honestly, I think my whole family had nicknames for everybody. For example, my dad and grandfather worked with a guy they called “Buckets”. My dad said something about how he had to fill buckets with parts or something at work, which led to that nickname. There was a family friend who we met while my parents where big into the CB radio craze. My grandma called him “Three Days”. He had gone over to visit once and then it had been a while between visits. My grandma asked where he had been and reminded him that “they bury the dead in three days” and the nickname stuck. We had a cousin they called “Flookie”. I don’t know the story behind that name. There was an aunt called “Harpo” because of a picture we saw of her with this Harpo Marx perm. There was an uncle called “Pif”. The list of nicknames goes on and on.

They also had nicknames for my friends. My best friend, Jeff, used to help when my grandpa drove us around delivering newspapers. We’d always be making noises and laughing. It probably annoyed my grandpa more than he let us know. Whenever he asked about Jeff, he’d call him “the crazy one.” When they talked about my Polish friend, Joe, they called him “the Polack.” My friend Steve had a variety of nicknames. Because he always seemed to have the Ace of clubs when we played pinochle, they’d call him “the Ace of Clubs.” He always ate a ton of Long John coffee cake when he was at their house, so “Long John” was another. One time he went into their fridge without asking and it pissed my grandpa off, so he became “the rude one.”

My Uncle Tom, my Godfather, had a few nicknames. The one I always used was “Rozmo.”. I am not even sure I know how he got that one. One of the Vietnam Vet guys used to call him “Rufus.” He will always be Rozmo to me.

My friends and I used nicknames, too. Many I can’t remember, but a few I do. I called my friend Margaret “M&M” because her last name started with M. This was LONG before Marshall Mathers (who went to our high school) decided to call himself Eminem. My friend Warren I called “JJ” and he called me “Victor” (characters from Cannonball Run). Steve went by a few nicknames – Srgt. PIN, Smokey the Bear, and a few others. Joe and I called each other cavemen names (maybe because of a cartoon or cereal or something) – Gronk and Ugma. Our friend Ron was called “Boom Boom” because it rhymed with his last name. I am sure my friends can remind me of others.

I don’t remember many of the ones I was called. In elementary school I ran for student council. I did my campaign speech in a blue denim cowboy hat and wore a blue suit. Although his suit was white and mine was blue, many called me “Boss Hogg.” In high school, when we were TPing houses, Steve called me “Hucklebuck” which eventually turned into “Hucklebuck DeValier!”

Baby Nicknames

It got me thinking about all the names parents call their babies. I used to call Dante’ “bubba” and Dimitri “buddy” among other silly ones. Ella is a nickname, as you know. Her real name is Pamela and we call her Ella. Both Sam and I have many names we call her:

  • Scooter Butt
  • Scooter
  • Ella Bella
  • Ellie Bellie
  • Pammie Poo
  • Poo Poo Pants
  • Stinker
  • Stinker Butt
  • Cootie
  • Scoots
  • Boo Boo
  • Toots
  • Tooter
  • Baby Goo
  • Smiley
  • Smiley Miley
  • El
  • Ginger Snap

She has so many names, she probably doesn’t even know her real name! At any rate, I was picking her up yesterday and I was talking to her. My Google Assistant on my phone went off and picked up me talking to her. It then beeped back at me and I had to laugh when I looked at my phone.


“Sorry, I don’t understand.” Hilarious! I am sure that when I am out in public with her (when all these restrictions are lifted), I am going to be talking baby talk to her and people will be staring at me like I am crazy.


Did you have a nickname? Did it stick with you? Tell me about it!


40 years of the Dukes

“Just a good ole boys … never meanin’ no harm….”


This is an impromptu blog that comes about as a result of scrolling Facebook.  I was reminded that it was 40 years ago today that “The Dukes of Hazzard” premiered on TV.  This show was such a HUGE part of my childhood!  I remember sitting in front of the TV faithfully every Friday night to see how Bo & Luke got out of trouble and avoid getting “cuffed and stuffed” by Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane.


What kid didn’t watch in awe as the General Lee made yet another jump over something?! I remember loving it each time the General, Dixie, or a cop car fishtailed as it made a turn on the dirt roads of Hazzard County.  Many of the kids in the neighborhood played “Dukes” during the summer.  Our bikes served as the General Lee, Boss Hogg’s convertible, Cooter’s tow truck, or Rosco’s police cruiser. Of course, when we’d “jump” a curb, in our imagination, we’d be jumping over a cop car, jumping over a bridge that was out, or a ravine.


When the Dukes came out, I watched James Best as the bumbling sheriff and loved every minute of it.  I learned how to do the “Rosco laugh” and when we played outside, I often assumed the role of Mr. Coltrane.  My dad had bought be a cowboy hat, and on a trip to Mackinaw I bought a silver sheriff’s badge.  I “was” Rosco – writing tickets and chasing Duke boys.

To this day, I feel that Rosco and Boss Hogg are often overlooked as one of TV’s great comedy teams!  They played so well off each other.  I remember how much I used to crack up when Boss Hogg called Rosco a “do-do” or “dipstick”.  While not full blown slapstick, it still made me laugh.


The show had a great cast of characters, too.  The good ole boys were, of course, Bo & Luke.  As a kid, I thought bow and arrows were cool – but Bo & Luke made them cooler!  They had sticks of dynamite on the arrows!!  Uncle Jesse was the patriarch who kept everyone in line and always had a lesson to teach.  Cooter was crazy, just like his CB handle. Enos and Cletus were the idiot deputies who were sometimes dumber and sometimes smarter than Rosco. And then there was Daisy….

Catherine Bach is one of my childhood crushes.  I always thought she was beautiful.  Every week, you’d see her in her bikini during the opening credits and then throughout the show, she’d be wearing her Daisy Duke shorts … yep, that’s where they got their name!  There were three posters that boys in the 70’s had … Wonder Woman, Farrah Fawcett, and Catherine Bach!  I had them all.


Everyone knew the theme song, too!  Waylon Jennings sang it.  He was also the narrator of the show.  He had a hit with the song, which had an additional verse that poked fun of the fact that the only showed his hands and not his face on TV.

I remember I stopped watching the show a couple times.  When Bo & Luke left and their cousins Coy and Vance (literally carbon copies of Bo & Luke) came to visit – even a kid knew that these two guys were nowhere close to Bo and Luke and we were glad to see them go.  I also stopped watching when Rosco was replaced by Sheriff Grady (played by Darren #2 from Bewitched – Dick Sargent) for a short time.  I haven’t watched the show in a long time, but I have been meaning to grab the DVD’s.

I remember when I was 9 or 10, I found a book of celebrity addresses (I think it was in one of the school book club order forms) and I wrote to James Best.  I told him how much I liked watching the show and stuff.  He sent me an autographed picture of him as Rosco with Flash the dog.  I wish I still had that picture.  It hung on my bedroom door for a very long time.  It was my first celebrity autograph.

I feel bad for the kids of today.  They have so many electronic distractions (tablets, cell phones, and video games) that they rarely “play” anymore.  In this day and age, they seem to have trouble carrying on a conversation, grasping the concept of imagination, or being creative.  For us, our imaginations ran wild when we were outside playing.  We created the stories as we went along.  We’d pick up wherever we left off the following day if it got too dark to play.  As I reread this, it makes me smile and wish I still had that bike and cowboy hat!  I am thankful that I was a child of the 70’s … we used to have a lot of fun!

(Insert Rosco P. Coltrane laugh here….)