There’s a place in Arkansas that was created in 1921 as a family refuge/enclave. It was just after the war and they — being my grandfather and his 10 siblings — were concerned about the future and thus wanted a place to which the family could always retreat. A reunion began in 1923 and except for one year, continues each July 4th. It’s a celebration not only of our great country but also to the remarkable insight of our ancestors.
I’m there now as I write this and I could swear I feel those 10 folks around me, in addition to my grandfather and grandmother who are always with me. Stories were handed down through the generations and one of them prompted an adventure one day long ago.
At the age of 14 I was up here and several of us cousins had heard there was a whiskey still up the mountain, an old abandoned one. So up the logging road we went, then up the hillside on a game path to a saddle between two mountain tops to sort of a plateau. We were in fairly heavy woods when suddenly we were about to break out of the trees … and there it was. The still. Only problem was, it was not abandoned.
Not only was it not abandoned, it was operating, cooking, and occupied! Frozen in our tracks for a moment, we then stealthily crept back into the cover of the forest growth and at the first opportunity turned and ran. Boy did we run! All the way back to the Valley, never looking back and never speaking of it to the adults. I’ve since tried to find the remnants of that but have not been able to do so. That was way before the movie Deliverance but the concept was already firmly in our minds.