Moonshining as a Fine Art: The Foxfire Americana Library - Foxfire Students (2011)
HOW TO GET RID OF THE FINAL PRODUCT
In the early days of moonshining, it was a relatively easy matter to dispose of the whiskey. In the first place, there wasn’t that much of it. Also, most of the neighbors knew who in the area was busy in that pursuit, and so they knew where to go when they needed to make a purchase. The moonshiner knew his neighbors, usually knew who could be trusted, and so everything worked out well. There were no big business overtones, no high pressure sales, just quiet, behind-the-scenes, low-key transactions during which no one asked unnecessary questions.
Things began to change, however, during Prohibition. One man we talked to could remember huge trailer trucks coming down off his mountain loaded with thousands of gallons of whiskey and headed north. The operation has remained the realm of the relatively big operators.
The great majority of the whiskey produced is distributed through bootleggers who buy it directly from the makers. They usually hire their own haulers so that they don’t have to pay the owner of the still for moving it for them. The bootlegger usually gets it from his haulers, waters it down, puts it in jars, and then distributes it to his regular customers, making deliveries to regular customers on a regular schedule. Sometimes these customers are store owners who sell it again to their customers.
It is a tight, shadowy operation, sometimes run by men who are among the most highly respected citizens in the community. For these men, their double life also pays off in a handsome double income.
Sometimes bootleggers have ingenious ways of hiding their wares while waiting for them to be disposed of. One we heard of has a clothesline strung across a lake in his backyard. The line is circular, and runs on a pulley system. The bottom half of the line contains clips which are, in turn, hooked to the tops of fruit jars that are full of whiskey. These jars remain submerged under the lake all the time. As customers show up, the correct number of jars is pulled up and sold. Another operator, this one relatively small, kept the product he was selling in the sleeves of the clothing which hung in his closet.
The men who run the real risks, however, are the haulers, who have perfected hundreds of ways of moving whiskey. Some of these:
1. One man hauled only on Sundays. On these days, he would have eight cases concealed in the trunk, two under the hood, and his wife and little girl in the car with him. The car was “shocked up” so that no excess weight showed, and he rode around enough so that no one suspected that he was in a hurry to get anywhere. He was never caught.
2. Another filled the bed of his pickup truck two cases high, and then put a black plywood form on top so that at night it looked empty. The truck held twenty cases.
3. Others have big trucks with false beds in which they can fit a single layer of cases.
4. Some haul, even today, in dump trucks or cabbage trucks which have such high sides that they can’t be seen into from the road. If they are afraid of getting caught, they sometimes stack all the cases of moonshine in the center of the bed and cover it completely top and sides with ears of corn.
5. Some remove the back seats from their cars and load them full from the front seat all the way through to the taillights. We heard about one man who even took out the front seat and rode sitting on a case, with several more beside him.
6. Still another method is to hire a “hot” lead car. The car containing the whiskey follows this lead car at a leisurely pace. When the lead car spots an officer, it takes off at a great rate of speed, obviously driving recklessly. The officer gives chase, and the driver in the car containing the whiskey proceeds unhindered to its destination.
7. Others steal several cars, repaint them, switch their motors, and have three license tags for each car—North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. The tags have hooks, and are interchanged according to which state the hauler is working.