Summer 2019 Digest
Food The Blue Ridge
Opinion Mount Airy as
The History and Future of
Foothills Flavor of
We are pleased to announce the opening of our new art gallery. In it, you’ll find
the art of the various artists that we’ve featured in our magazine. They include:
Steve Brooks, Charlie Frye, Joe Lafone, Arie Taylor, Patrick Harris, Dan Smith, Kim
Ellington, Robert Eades, Hunter Speagle and Barry Huffman. The collection will
grow as we feature more artists. The gallery is located in our offices in Downtown
Hickory, and pieces are available for purchase.
Please join us for our Ribbon-Cutting and Grand Opening on August 15th. The ribbon
cutting will be at 4:30 PM, followed by a reception and art viewing from 5-7 , with
hors d’oeuvres and a raffle.
42 3rd St NW Hickory, NC
619 2nd St NE
Hickory NC 28601
E-mail: [email protected]
Stock by Adobe Stock
PRINTED IN USA
CARMEN ECKARD JON ECKARD JOEY OSBORNE
Chief Editor Principal Photographer Partner
CONTRIBUTING COLUMNISTS CONTRIBUTORS
James Thomas-Shell Richard Eller
Jenelle Burke Sarah Everly Lisa De Maio Brewer
Teresa Frye Calvin Reyes
Patrick Jean Donna Steele Al Stout
Granny Eckard Adam York
Summer Camille Amber Bryson Charlie Frye
Kat Dellinger Caitlyn Propst
SPECIAL Edyth Potter Pruitt
THANKS Heather Woods Davis Martin Owens
Craig Distl STAFF
Anita Rudisill Brittain Chris Dedosis
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I’m enjoying a new season of life with my sons
A self-proclaimed “mad gardener,” making the world a more beautiful
place is Deward’s calling. When fatigue became a thorn in his side, the
team at Frye Regional Medical Center helped Deward get back to creating
beautiful outdoor spaces with his sons.
As part of Duke LifePoint Healthcare and the region’s only Duke
Health affiliate in heart, Frye Regional Medical Center has a team of
experienced doctors with specialty training in heart to provide the very
best care for Deward and others in our community with heart disease.
To learn more or to schedule a primary care appointment online,
Letter from the Editor
Summer is here! This issue was especially fun to put together. It involved
several trips to Dollywood, a visit to Mayberry and a lot of really delicious
taste testing. Lots of that taste testing involved my favorite food: North
Carolina watermelons. It also let me get up close and personal with the
butterflies at the Catawba Science Center’s FlutterBy Butterfly Exhibit.
It’s during the summer that we put Mason jars to their most exciting uses: lightning
bug holders and containers for moonshine. Moonshine is woven into
the history of these hills so thoroughly it truly can’t be
separated. Long after prohibition ended, the hills of
Southern Appalachia were sprinkled with stills-as
many as one for every 8 families at times. We
take a look at the attitudes that surrounded
underground and illegal distilling both in the
past, and legal moonshine in the present.
The Blue Ridge Parkway holds a special
place in all our hearts, and I’d imagine
it’s my favorite road. Is it yours? We
look at the history of the Parkway and
consider its importance.
You’re invited to our ribbon cutting and
gallery opening. More info is on page
3, and I hope we’ll see you
Thank you, as always,
All my love,
7 Letter From the Editor 42 Blue Ridge Parkway
10 Event Calendar 48 Junior Rangers (On the Cover)
12 One Tank Trip-Mount Airy 50 Lux Lucet in Tenebrus
20 Time Travel In NC: Return to 55 From this Day Forward
61 FlutterBy Butterfly Exhibit
Mayberry 66 Dollywood
78 Shining Hope Farms
28 Mayberry Days 80 Cavendash Brewing Company
30 Shine On the Hills
37 Moonshine From South Mountain
84 Fox & Hound
88 Granny Eckard
90 Dan Smith
96 Waterfalls All Around
101 One Subject You Can’t Talk
102 Stay Healthy Travel Tips
104 Cafe Rule
108 North Carolina Watermelons
Page 26 110 Watermelon Recipes
Page 66 114 Peace and Quiet
120 Summer Fashion
122 Summertime Shine
126 Eventfully Yours
128 Letters from Mayberry
130 Rosemary’s Remembrances
HIGHLAND GAMES AT NC MINERAL AND GEM
MOUNTAIN Spruce Pine
This 4 day festival allows gem
The 64th Annual Grandfather and mineral sellers from around
Mountain Highland Games the country to offer their wares.
celebrate Scottish heritage and Crystals, gemstones and fossils are
bring together many Scottish available.
11 BLUE RIDGE BRUTAL BIKE
MOUNTAIN West Jefferson
Grandfather Mountain 57, 75 or 100 mile bike rides
through the Blue Ridge Mountains.
One of the world’s most Begin at the Ashe Civic Center.
challenging marathons. Boondocks Brewing provides beer
BLACKBERRY FESTIVAL FOOTHILLS DIGEST
Street festival dedicated to Hickory
4:30 Ribbon Cutting followed by
NCBLACKBERRYFESTIVAL.COM reception and gallery opening from
FIDDLERS CONVENTION 11-25
Sparta BALLS CREEK CAMP
Fiddlers, fiddlers everywhere. 25 Balls Creek
years and going strong.
This two week campmeeting has
ALLEGHANYFIDDLERSCONVENTION.COM always been a Catawba County
Staple. Come to a service.
FIDDLERS CONVENTION 15-17
Jefferson NC BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL
Mountain music and contests. A
celebration of the traditional music
of the hills. Enjoy Grammy Award winning
artists at this three day festival.
17-21 RECURRING FROM THIS DAY
OLD SOLDIERS REUNION FORWARD
Newton MUSIC ON MAIN Valdese
A celebration of Veterans featuring Outdoor drama tells the story
an annual parade. Live music and First Friday of each month, May of the Waldensians who settled
food, a car show and a beauty through October. Valdese.
contest are all features of this 128
year old festival. HILDEBRAN CRUISE-IN MUSIC AT THE MARKET
AND MUSIC Morganton
Don’t miss this farmers market
24 4th Saturday of each month, June which also includes live music.
HIGH COUNTY BEER FEST through September. Classic cars,
Boone food vendors and live music. TGIF MUSIC SERIES
Live music and craft beer make this ART IN THE PARK
a can’t miss festival. Blowing Rock Family-friendly music on the
Historic Burke County Courthouse
WWW.HCBEERFEST.COM Held every 4 weeks June through lawn. Every Friday, from May to
October. Arts and crafts downtown. July. Food vendors and beer garden
SEPTEMBER open at 6pm, bands play from
APPLE CITY CRUISE-IN 7-10pm.
FLOCK TO THE ROCK CRAWDADS BASEBALL
Chimney Rock Held every 4th Saturday ,June Hickory
through October. At Scotty’s on
Occurring during the annual hawk Hwy 16s. The Hickory Crawdads are a Minor
migration, this event celebrates League Baseball team of the South
birds of prey with different HORN IN THE WEST Atlantic League and the Class A
programs and walks led by local Boone affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Info
experts. at /www.milb.com/hickory.
Revolutionary War outdoor drama,
WWW.CHIMNEYROCKPARK.COM running June through August, each
night but Mondays.
CAROLINA BIBLE CAMP SIMS COUNTRY BBQ
BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL Granite Falls
Live Bluegrass and BBQ every
Grammy Award winner Dom Friday and Saturday Night.
Flemons, Terry Baucum’s Dukes of
Drive and more! Unique vendors, CONNELLY SPRINGS
delicious food and free activities CRUISE-IN
for kids. Connelly
3rd Saturday, May
23-29 through August. Classic
MAYBERRY DAYS cars galore.
This festival celebrates Mayberry
and Andy Griffith. SUMMER
long arts program that includes
artists like Ben Folds and the
AiMrytOTnreipT: ank .
By Carmen Eckard Photography by Jon Eckard
Mount Airy is distilled Americana. Car Tour, which we recommend.
You don’t have to squint very hard
to see the picturesque town that Mt. Airy is part of the Yadkin
inspired the Andy Griffith Show, as the Valley, which means that it is
past is just below the surface here. home to vineyards and wineries.
The temperatures, the breeze
The friendly, easy-going spirit is visible coming off the mountains and the
everywhere you look, and the pace particular type of rain saturation
seems slower. Front porches are more makes this valley very similar to
important and you never have to tell the France, and delicious grapes for
waitress that your tea should be sweet. ware inemaking are grown here.
Folks have been traveling to Mount History buffs will love the Mount
Airy to see Mayberry for decades, and a Airy Museum of Regional History
robust tourism economy has developed. and the Gertrude Smith House.
But Mount Airy is a fascinating town The museum details the history of
even for tourists who aren’t interested the countyacross time. Thorough
in the television show. exhibits bring the history to
life. A full-size rugged cabin is
We immediately noticed the beautiful reconstructed in the museum, as
and abundant granite churches, well as Merritt’s Hardware Store. A
municipal buildings and even homes. fire fighting section features three
It’s everywhere, even in the curbing and historic engines. Several celebrities
benches. As it turns out, Mount Airy is who are from Mount Airy have
home to the largest open-faced granite exhibits, including Andy Griffith,
mine in the world. The historic owners Donna Fargo and Chang and Eng
of the mine have been very generous Bunker, the original “Siamese
in providing stone for the churches and Twins.” The Gertrude Smith House
other buildings. is a Victorian-Colonial Revival
home filled to the brim with antique
Legend has it that the white granite furniture and the trappings of daily
mine is visible from space, and that life during the Victorian Era.
NASA has used it as a wayfaring point
in missions. The granite slab could be Riverside Park provides a good
mined at current rates for another 500 opportunity to stretch your legs
years before it ran out. The huge granite and connect with nature. The park
deposit makes up the actual foundation follows the river and allows you to
of the town...much of the area only has dip in your toes.
3 inches of topsoil, and some basements
are carved into the stone. The Historic Earle Theatre is a
stop on the Blue Ridge Music Trail.
We visited the mine as part of a Squad The WPAQ Saturday Morning
Vintage car for the Wine Tour offered
by Heart and Soul Bed & Breakfast,
seen in background.
Luxurious bedroom at Heart and Soul
Bed & Breakfast.
Merry-Go-Round is a live radio show hosted Chris and Pam Bastin are charming hosts
in the theatre weekly and it is the second with knowledge of the whole area. The
longest currently running live radio show breakfast they served us was inventive and
in the nation. Attend the live recording delicious. The first course, shown below,
session for only $5! was a rich cheesecake with a homemade
blueberry syrup. They followed it with a
There are a lot of options for lodging, but hearty meal of crepes, a squash and tomato
two that we recommend. The first is Heart medley, potatoes and eggs. As we ate, they
& Soul Bed and Breakfast. We stayed told us about the town, and made custom
in this beautifully renovated historic suggestions for us. The level of customer
home and were
delighted with service stood out.
The second is We think the best
the Mayberry reason to choose this
Motor Inn, which Bed and Breakfast
is a delightful is the wine tour
experience for the service they offer.
Mayberry seekers. Chris drives guests to
We must also several wineries in his
mention a third: antique car, providing
the home that a very memorable
Andy Griffith grew experience and a
up in is available designated driver.
for overnight It’s easier to enjoy
rentals as well. a winery tour when
We imagine that’s you know you won’t
a can’t-miss be driving, so we
experience for any certainly recommend
die-hard fans. this lodging option.
Heart and Soul The house was built
Bed and Breakfast in 1900 by one of
offers a top- Mount Airy’s titans
notch lodging of industry. The
experience. “William Merritt
Home” was built
Themed rooms, decadent gardens and by the entrepreneur behind Merritt’s
luxurious common spaces make for a grand Hardware (on display at the Mount Airy
first impression. Regional History Museum).
Our king size bed was very comfortable, The home was one of the most prestigious
with a mountain of blankets and pillows. A houses in town when it was built. On the
large tub made it easy to relax, and coffee edge of Downtown on a quiet one-way
was always on hand, making it easier to road, the location can’t be beat. Granite
wake up. detailing and gorgeous, old brick stand out
Delicacies from Old North State Winery
on a street full of beautiful homes. 17
When we visit a town to tell our audience
about it, we look for the best culinary
experience possible. We found it in
Old North State Winery. This winery
and restaurant is one of the top tourist
destinations in the Yadkin Valley, and we
think that is well-earned. Housed in the
old Merritt’s Hardware building, the whole
experience is steeped in history. The tin
ceilings and original oak floors create
the foundation for a hip-yet-vintage
Chef Chris Wishart is a delightfully
irreverent artist. He uses fresh, locally
sourced ingredients to make food that
Our first course, at left, was as bold in
flavor as it was visually. Shaved fennel
tops butter lettuce and blackberries with
creamy goat cheese and a trio of sauces
which complemented each other much like
a musical chord.
Next, we were served seared sea-scallops
with sunflower sprouts. The scallops were
tender and sweet, succulent even. The
simple presentation allowed the flavors
to resonate, and three sauces blended
beautifully to create a unique flavor profile.
Lastly, we were served a gorgeous plate
of crab cakes with lions mane mushrooms
and a fresh pesto. There was nothing
in this dish that didn’t need to be there
and it was delicious. The texture of the
crabcake juxtaposed with the mushroom
We think Chef Chris Wishart is a master of
culinary harmony. Any visit to Mount Airy
should include a visit to Old North State
The vineyard at Round Peak Winery,
overlooking Round Peak.
Mayberry Sprits, made by traditional
methods, by Vann McCoy. His still is
s1h8own on page 9.
We also visited Round Peak Winery, shown IV Hydration is the quickest and most effective
at left. This 12-acre vineyard has gorgeous way to hydrate, prepare, and recover when the
views of Round Peak and Skull Camp Peak. body has become, or will become, depleted of
The area is rented out for weddings and fluid and vitamins. Our special blend of vitamins
events, and a full disc golf course brings and medications will help an athlete prepare
in many visitors. Owners Ken Gulaian and for a rigorous workout or competition, a traveler
Kari Heerdt bought the vineyard in 2008. reset from jet lag, a patient recover from illness or
They have expanded to include not only a surgery, and those wanting to stay well and prevent
vineyard, but also a brewery, called Skull aging to feel at the top of their game. 100% of the
Camp Brewery, and cabin rentals. fluids, vitamins, and medications are absorbed
immediately and provide rapid results.
Yadkin Valley is home to a great many
vineyards, and this one is the northernmost, Feel Your Best!
at 1,300 (ft) elevation. The best way to enjoy Be Your Best!
the vineyard is while tasting a selection of One DROP at a time.
the wines that they produce. Some of the IV Hydration therapies offered are:
• ”About Last Night”- Hangover Relief
Mount Airy is also home to Mayberry Sprits, • ”The Recovery Room”- Recover from illness,
which is a business after our own hearts. surgery, or Injury
Owner Vann McCoy, a Mount Airy native, • ”Reset The Clock”- Jet lag recovery
spent 25 years as a monk before returning • ”Game ON”- Pre and Post workout
home to care for his mother. • ”Turn Up The Heat”- Fuel your fat burning
He’s built his business on history, tradition, • ”The Vice Grip”- Migraine and headache relief
steadfastness, kindness and chemistry, with • ”An Apple A Day”- General wellness
a fair amount of showmanship sprinkled
in. He gave us a tour of his facility where (828) 322-1498
he makes moonshine and whiskey the old-
fashioned way. He explained the process 19
theatrically, yet simply, and we walked
away understanding the basics of alcohol
He doesn’t stop at making good liquor. He’s
created a robust line of products made
with his liquor, like extracts, as well as
products like bitters and oak wood blocks
that complement his whiskey. We were
impressed by the business, the liquor and
the man, and we hope you visit the store and
take a tour.
Mount Airy is a lovely town and a nice home
base for a Yadkin Valley Wine Tour. To plan
a Mayberry vacation, keep reading!
By Lisa De Maio Brewer Photos by Jon Eckard
VIsit Wally’s Service Station, where you
can walk around a block that’s built as
the set of The Andy Griffith Show.
Some memories, wrapped in nostalgia’s cotton candy gauze, become sweeter with time
while others take on an entirely new life of their own.
A trip to Mt. Airy, North Carolina, can transport you back in time if you are one of the
many tourists seeking Mayberry, the mythological center of the popular 1960’s television
program, “The Andy Griffith Show.” Mayberry-inspired tourism opportunities can help you
in your quest to find the “spirit of Mayberry” even as you make new memories in the town.
Considered by many to be North Carolina’s best export, the television series was regarded
as humorous but not biting, traditional but not backward, sweet but not syrupy. Actor Andy
Griffith, himself born and raised in Mt. Airy, was said to have based many of the show’s
characters and locations on his own experiences.
Bluegrass musician and promoter Tim White of Blountville, Tennessee, has been a guest
and participating artist in Mt. Airy’s Mayberry Days festival for more than twenty years. He
is the songwriter behind, “Whatever Happened to Mayberry?” As the host of the television
program, “Song of the Mountains,” a series that airs on PBS, White believes he understands
the legacy of Sheriff Andy Taylor, Aunt Bee, Opie, and the rest.
“They loved each other,” White said simply. “They cared about each other. And I think
whether people consciously or unconsciously know it, that’s what it was about.
“You don’t see them, like in a lot of shows, picking on each other or insulting each other.
They’d get aggravated with Otis for being drunk or Barney for screwing up, but they cared
about each other,” White said. “Andy and the other characters could solve all the problems
in a half hour!”
White pointed out that the show was set in a simpler time. Although it was created and took
Andy Griffith and Don Knotts on the set
of The Andy Griffith Show.
Mrs. Alma Venable
24 of Mayberry Motor Inn.
place in the 1960’s, stage props establishing the ambience were from the 1930’s. He
credited “The Andy Griffith Show” for teaching life lessons of integrity and morality.
“There are Sunday school classes that people give that are modeled on the show,”
White said. “You can take the lessons learned on the show and apply them to your life
today.” (Editor’s Note: See page 102)
The Mayberry Motor Inn’s well-loved matriarch Alma Venable mused that the show’s
characters had their morals rooted in the morals of their Mt. Airy ancestors.
“Most people here grew up in churches and loved the Lord,” Mrs. Venable said. “To go
back in time is what people want, to see Andy’s homeplace and everything. So far,
we’ve been able to walk downtown. That’s a freedom that a lot of cities don’t have.”
She added that when Griffith returned to Mt. Airy to visit, he did so without a bit of
pretentiousness. He was known to be generous with anonymous gifts, she said.
Bill Hiatt of Floyd’s City Barber Shop believes that those who look for the spirit of
Mayberry will find it in Mt. Airy.
“They bring it with them,” he said, “because this is what they are looking for.”
White acknowledged that his favorite episode was “Opie the Birdman,” which famously
featured young Opie accidentally killing a mother bird with his slingshot. Opie cared
for the baby birds until they grew big enough to return to nature, which he reluctantly
allowed them to do.
“’Pa, don’t this cage look mighty empty?’” White quoted Opie as saying. “But then
Andy Griffith’s Childhood home and Squad Car Tour driver.
Andy says, ‘But don’t the trees seem nice tourists who are simply excited to be there.
and full?’” Both City Barber Shop and the Snappy
Lunch were mentioned in episodes of “The
Today’s modern television situation Andy Griffith Show.”
comedies may be lacking the warm
Mayberry spirit, but it lives on, nice and full, ANDY’S CHILDHOOD HOME is a charming
among Mt. Airy and its people. one-story structure a short distance from
Main Street sites. Guests may call the
The real-life inspirations behind the series, Hampton Inn of Mt. Airy and rent the well-
fond tributes to the show, down-home maintained, modest property (sleeps five!)
charm and more make for a memorable day through the hotel. Features include a copy
trip to Mt. Airy. Here are a few not-to-be- of Griffith’s birth certificate, photographs
missed items for your itinerary: of Sheriff Taylor and Deputy Fife, and a
cheerful lemon yellow and white kitchen.
THE ANDY GRIFFITH MUSEUM: First, get Contact the friendly and professional
grounded comfortably in all things Andy General Manager Lenise Lynch for a dose
Griffith with a visit to the museum. You’ll of “Hamptonality,” Mayberry style.
enjoy a pleasing collection of authentic
memorabilia from the iconic show as well as MAYBERRY ANTIQUE MALL: Looking for
other aspects of Griffith’s life. The displays your own piece of Mayberry memorabilia
are modern with plenty of audio and video to take home with you? The array of booths
presentations paying tribute to those with furniture, jewelry, china and more
simpler times. The $8.00 admission fee display everything you need to furnish your
includes admission to the Surry Arts Council own corner of Mayberry memories. Clerks
next door (including The Betty Lynn Exhibit are helpful and friendly but not overbearing
as well as the Siamese Twins Exhibit). so as not to hinder your browsing.
FLOYD’S CITY BARBER SHOP has the THE MAYBERRY MOTOR INN is a family-
sweetest atmosphere of any place that owned business that includes a small
ever carried scissors. Enjoy a visit with a treasure trove of “Aunt Bee” collectibles.
charming Southern gentleman, Bill Hiatt, The lucky guest will be treated to a visit with
son of “the original Floyd,” Russell Hiatt. proprietor Alma Venable, who has spent
Bill will be happy to tell you about “the way more than twenty years portraying “Aunt
things used to be” as well as how much he Bee” at the annual Mayberry Days festival.
appreciates the enthusiasm of his guests. In her former career as a hairdresser, she
Marvel at the original barber chairs (circa styled the hair of Andy Griffith’s mother,
1929) and the tens of thousands of tourist Geneva. The motel features replicas of
photos lining the walls. Yes, you can get the sheriff’s squad car and Emmett’s pick-
your hair cut there! up truck as well as spotless rooms where
guests are treated like family.
THE SNAPPY LUNCH will be proud to serve
up their famous pork chop sandwich. On Lisa De Maio Brewer is a legal assistant at the Law
a “slow” day they may prepare only 200, Offices of Brewer & Brewer in Wilkesboro, NC, and
while the summer season number may Executive Director of Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass
reach as high as 500. Here, too, the walls Festival in Mocksville, NC. Her favorite episode of
are adorned with Mayberry photographs “The Andy Griffith Show” is “A Blind Date for Gomer.”
while the booths are filled with friendly
Moonshine ice cream from Miss
Angels, with glassware from
Wally’s Service Station
Fried Pork chop Sandwich
from Snappy Lunch
MayDbaeyrsry September 23-
Mayberry Days are a favorite event for fans in the series. Betty Lynn, who played Thelma Lou,
of the Andy Griffith Show. The event was is the most loyal. She moved to Mount Airy and
started in 1990 and has been going strong always attends Mayberry Days. She also has regular
since. Mayberry Days has parades, autograph autograph sessions throughout the year.
sessions and bake sales. There are loads of
contests, including apple peeling contests This festival, dedicated to The Andy Griffith Show, is
and whistling championships. There are also a great way for an excited fanship to have fun and
concerts and other cultural events. fellowship with other like-minded folks. It’s also a
great way for families to spend time together, and
This is when town is the most crowded, so be have good-natured fun that doesn’t involve staring
sure to get a reservation if you’re planning on at a phone screen.
staying overnight during this time.
Each year there are special guests who acted
The original Themla Lou lives in
Mount Airy and celebrates Mayberry
Days. Photo provided by Craig Distl.
We are Eckard Photographic,
the creative team that brings
you Foothills Digest.
We are visual story tellers.
Let us help tell your story.
Shine on the
By Richard Eller
Has there ever been an elixir so loved and hated? In Colonial America,
every community had at least one person who produced it. In Victorian
America, a great wave sought to ban it. Ever since it has been under strict
government control. But now the clear liquid moves from the shadows to
take its place on the drink menu alongside every other tradition-filled spirit.
You know it by its name, or should that be variety of names, from
“skullcraker” to “blue john,” “catdaddy” to “tiger’s sweat.” It is more
regularly known as “white lightning” or “moonshine.” However, my
favorite is a term used by a friend: “Wilkes County Spring Water.”
Distilled spirits hold a special place in the foothills of North Carolina and
is responsible for many a great party, but also the big money business of
bootlegging and the even bigger, and legitimized sport of NASCAR. Moonshine
drove (pardon the pun) economic activity for the better part of three centuries.
The consumption of ‘shine has never been a completely legitimate
affair, with both lovers and haters pushing it on and off the table.
For example, in March of 1890 this item appeared in the Charlotte
Democrat (newspaper) from March of 1890 proclaimed the following:
It seems that not drinking made the
man a more virtuous type and may have
accounted for adding years to his life.
On the other hand, this notice from
the same newspaper, 15 years earlier
offered readers the best place to buy:
And from the 19th to the 20th century, the debate raged. Almost every self-respecting
southern genealogy has some family member who “pulled a stretch” in the “pokey” for
dabbling in the art of making whiskey. Meanwhile, the story goes that in Claremont,
NC, they turned off their one traffic light at 9:00pm each night so they didn’t slow
down the “thunder roadsters” heading to Charlotte for delivery. Conversely, preachers
and proselytes both deplored the use of “demon spirits.” Many got behind the idea of
banning all alcohol because of the violence and poverty that sometimes came with it. But
instead of eradicating the problem, the ban brought new, albeit taboo fame to the elixir.
During the Prohibition Era, when some Americans linked illegality to abstention, the
practice simply went underground. In Hickory, it meant going upstairs. At the Harper
House, a historic site owned by the Historical Association of Catawba County, the
third floor was reserved as a speakeasy by the family. Neighbors had a safe place to
go have a drink but, admission was selective. The only way one would gain admission
was if their profile matched a silhouette on the wall. By the way, those silhouettes
remain with many still unidentified. Supposedly, more than one Hickoryite made
regular stops at the Harper House in that era to purchase some “special water.”
Most shiners also sold their creations, and grew their practices into a working
gaining for them the moniker of business. Many did not survive Prohibition
bootleggers. Just as it sounds, many a pint and those that did had to adhere to
was carried in the boot for immediate and the strict regulations dictated by the
stealthy sales. Eluding the cops became federal government. Throughout it all,
an art in much
the same way the enjoyment
that fast driving of spirits has
became a sport. persisted, even
The process of becoming part
making liquor of local lore.
is as old as
Europeans in the Several
hills. Passed down reputations have
from generation been made on
to generation, the the production of
practice was as moonshine, with
much a part of life both positive and
as hog killings. negative results.
However, after NASCAR legend
Prohibition the Junior Johnson
practice went from Wilkesboro
“uptown.” Drinking freely admitted
out of a mason jar to “running
became old hat. shine” in his early
“Store bought” days, thus giving
liquor became him a career
fashionable (and when stock car
safe). When an racing gained
imbiber “busted popularity. The
the seal” on a sport evolved
purchase from the from runners
liquor store (ABC in bragging over
NC) he or she was whose car was
assured consistent the fastest. The
taste and purity. unfortunate side
After all, untold of moonshine
numbers of fame is best seen
people had died from stills where in the story of
the alcohol had been run through an Popcorn Sutton,
automobile radiator, poisoning the person. a maker and bootlegger. He shunned
The practice of making moonshine and legitimacy with an operation that
properly aging it to be credited as whiskey regularly spanned across
requires expertise and care. Since the the mountains from
colonial era, every community had a NC to TN.
distiller, averaging one for every seven to Showcased in
eight households. Some became famous several films
classic, This is the Last
Damn Run of Likker I’ll
Ever Make, Sutton revealed
his methods as well as his
unique personality. Being on
the opposite side of the law
caught up with him, thanks
partially to his on-camera
notoriety. Sentenced to
prison time, he chose suicide
instead of serving 18 months
in 2009. He took the role of
moonshining rebel seriously
and went down in history
as his own kind of legend.
Recently, the whole practice
has begun to come out from
the shadows and has grown
looking for economic
development have welcomed
distilleries to their areas.
Relaxed regulations on the
once forbidden process
have created the new
opportunities to take the
forbidden practice and make
it respectable. We’ve come
full circle back to a time when
the whiskey makers in town
were a respected member
of the community, providing
a local audience with a
taste unique to our taste.
Art by Caitlyn Propst
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By Al Stout
It is now more of a footnote in history than it is news, but over 100
years ago an unknown journalist had this to say in an editorial about
the people living here. He wrote: “As long as water runs downhill the
South Mountain people will boil corn without regard to law. The
law of nature, strongest of all laws, tells us that there is one thing
the Gov’t of the United States can not do, and that is to conquer
the South Mountains.”
He was celebrating in print the fierce independence of the
moonshiners. He was writing about the legends of his time; men like
Amos Owens of Rutherford County, and Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton traveling
the backroads of Maggie Valley, and Ben Hudson of North Fork Creek in Golden Valley. He
may have known some of them personally and would not have been surprised that some
of them later on would become fictional heroes in movies like “Thunder Road,” and real
life stars like Jr. Johnson, using his driving skills and experiences running moonshine to
later go on to win NASCAR races.
These days the rebellious spirit of moonshiners has waned
some. It became legal to distill corn liquor and sell it in 2010
eliminating much or all of the risks. Still there are 55 legal stills
in North Carolina that carry on the time honored practice of
making corn whiskey. So there is still some competition in
the making and distribution of corn liquor.
But it isn’t all that easy, competition aside.
“I bottle 1000 jars of corn a month,” said
Don Smith, “and end up paying about
49% of whatever I make in taxes.” At the
end of the day it is just the cost of doing
this kind of business, and for Smith, the
great grandson of Ben Hudson, it’s not just
about business. It’s family.
We are thrilled to welcome Wearing a baseball hat that reads “You’re
our new Music Director and in “Shine Country”, Smith who makes
Conductor, Matthew Troy! several varieties and flavors of corn
whiskey, is perhaps proudest of the family
38 recipe that goes back four generations.
It is called Sinister, in part because he
is left-handed and as he said,”It invites
“You have to remember some of these
people in my family and others further
west in the mountains had no other means
of supporting their families,” Smith said.
“Corn on the cob had very little market
value. But cook it in a still and if you were
willing to take the risk you could make
some big time money.”
While “Poppy” Hudson taught him the
basics, it was his uncles Carl and Clyde
Smith that took him under their wings and
taught the younger Smith how to perfect
the craft. “I’d been around it since I was
16,” Smith said. “The old-timers would
share it at family gatherings.” Smith goes
on to say it was Clyde’s wife, Marge, who
was clever enough to find a loop-hole in
the law. She got Clyde a license to make
ethanol which also made it legal to make
moonshine. “That piece of paper saved
them from jail time.”
Smith always considered himself an
entrepreneur. In Jr. High school he sold
candy and pencils to classmates for
profit. Later on, he and his wife Dawn
would open several chains of tanning
salons, video stores and fitness centers.
But it was the opportunity of making
moonshine legally and keeping a rich part
of his family’s history alive that caused
Smith to get his still up and running in
2015. Not surprisingly Smith called his
new business venture the South Mountain
Distilling Co. considering his family’s
Still getting SMD off the ground was not He died last summer and this area of the
easy at first. He knew how to do it but he store is part of his legacy.”
wanted the right still for his premium spirits.
“I showed my design for my still to a couple Smith likes to brag on his friend saying
of engineers and they couldn’t make any Doc once put out a CD of music he
sense out of it. I wondered why they got recorded on his Tele. “Some were so
their degrees if they couldn’t understand good that Al Gore called him to ask
the basics of making steam and letting that permission to use them for one of his
condense at the end of a copper tube,” Smith political campaigns.”
said. “Finally I found this guy out in Missouri
and he built it for me. My still works great Not much grass,
and I don’t think or corn for that
the guy is even an matter grows
engineer.” under the feet
of Don Smith.
Moonshine recipes Even with the
arrived in the foothills loss of Doc he
with the Scotch-Irish was able to lure
migrations in the J.B. Rader, who
1700’s. The ancient was the protégé
Gaelic word for of “Popcorn”
moonshine roughly Sutton and has
translates as “the his own show on the Discovery Channel
water of life”. Smith said, “I wanted to do to come to Rutherfordton College this
it the way my ancestors did it. I wanted past May 25. “Man,” Smith said,”I don’t
to make the smoothest 101 proof whiskey think our little town ever saw so many
money can buy. People say it is.” He has people come here for a day as we had
the awards to back it up. here. We had over 3000 come into our
store. It was great.”
In a short period of time Smith began winning
more awards. The recipe he inherited calls While Rader may be the reigning star among
for corn and malt barley. No sugar. After the current batch of moonshiners (they all
distillation his moonshine is left alone revere him as the legend after all), friends
inside used buffalo trace barrels for 12 to 18 are quick to say he is the most humble of
months before it is bottled. Smith says if he people you’ll ever meet. One of them said,
used new barrels the corn mash would make “JB was invited out to an event. His room
bourbon, and that would ruin his moonshine. and board were all paid for by the sponsors,
but JB left a $40 tip for the cleaning ladies.
Over the counter where Smith serves I said JB, why did you do that? And JB said
samples in communion cups is the the room didn’t cost him nuthin’ and the
Telecaster that was owned by David “Doc” cleaning ladies were all nice to him. An’ I
Friendenburg. Doc was a medic in Vietnam said, JB, that’s too much. An’ JB said to me
and was Smith’s right arm for 18 years. “Doc if you got too much money then you need
was sorta like a brother,” Smith said. “He today you got too much money. I didn’t say
was a multi-talented guy and he really another word.”
helped me get this business up and running.
South Mountain Distilling Co. is also getting very well
known in its short time in business. It goes without
saying that customers are coming in from all over the
U.S. southeast, but they also trek in from Canada and
Last week a couple came in from Australia. They spoke in
that style, with the accent, that they had just put shrimp
on the barbie. “‘Ello. mate. Me an the misses here are
touring America , and we left Charleston this morning.
On our way to Asheville, but we had to stop here just to
meet you and taste some fluids.”
Smith invited them to have a seat at the counter and
sample a new whiskey he created especially for J.B.
Rader—the soon to be famous Honeycrisp Apple
Moonshine. “Very good,” the Australian said.
“Smoothest whiskey I ever drank.” But his wife
put her cup down. “Too strong for me.”
Her husband looked at her and said, “The
strongest stuff she’ll drink is half a Foster’s.
Tell me, what’s that Sinister whiskey you
got over there?”
Smith smiled knowing he had a new
convert. Smith in no way represents the
Beverly Hillbillies, or characters drawn by
Al Capp. His easy nature shows he is part
of a long culture when the moonshiner was
the real deal, an American hero. He may not
feel that way about himself, but give him
a minute and he’ll tell you the stories. His
moonshine is now legally sold in 125 ABC
stores across the state.
To find the South Mountain Distilling Co.
travel west on I-40 to exit 113. Turn right.
The address is 1027 Malcolm Blvd.
By Carmen Eckard
At 469 miles long, the
Blue Ridge Parkway is
the longest linear park
in America. Beginning
in Virginia, it follows the
spine of the Blue Ridge.
The Blue Ridge is just
one of many mountain
chains that are part of the
but it is beautiful and
wild, and it holds a very
special place in the hearts
of North Carolinians.
The parkway ends in
Carolina, at the Cherokee
The Blue Ridge Parkway
is part of the National
It isn’t just locals who
love the Blue Ridge
Parkway. The National
Parks Service owns land
on both sides of the road,
allowing for excellent
hiking opportunities as
you travel. Frequent
overlooks put you
immediately in touch with
the nature that surrounds
For most of us, it seems
that the parkway has
been here forever.
Map provided by the National Park
Service and is available at
Construction for the parkway began in 1935, as part of FDR’s New Deal.
The New Deal had three points of focus, the “3 Rs”: relief for the unemployed and
poor, recovery of the economy back to normal levels and reform of the financial system
to prevent a repeat depression. There were many ways the New Deal attempted to
accomplish these aims, and most focused on putting people to work to improve our
infrastructure. This particular parkway was kickstarted by President Franklin Delano
Roosevelt himself, when he visited the Skyline Drive, a similar project in Virginia. U.S.
Senator Harry Byrd suggested, on that trip, that a parkway be created to connect Skyline
Drive to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and planning crews quickly got to
Building roads on the ridge of a mountain chain is hard, tricky work, and construction
continued until 1966. At that point, the whole road was complete, except for an important
section near Grandfather Mountain. That 7.7-mile stretch proved to be very complicated,
and the solution was to build the Linn Cove Viaduct, seen below and on page 142. It was
completed in 1987, at a cost of $10 million.
The 1,243-foot viaduct
was planned from the
beginning because of the
damage a cut-and-fill
road would have caused
to Grandfather Mountain.
This mountain is almost
6,000 feet tall, and it is
one of the highest and
most rugged peaks in the
mountain chain. In fact, it
is the oldest mountian in
North America. The very
popular viaduct is among
the more complicated
The Blue Ridge Parkway
isn’t just a road.
Truly, it’s a way of life for most folks in our
parts. Foothills Digest asked, “Why do
you love the Blue Ridge Parkway?” Here
are their answers, in their own words.
“If you go early, the fog and the sunrise
has a beautiful way of making you forget
“All the hiking trails along the
“I love driving around on the parkway
alone with my car stereo playing loudly to clear my head. I have favorite stopping points
where I wander around the overlooks and trails to read or write. Everything about it is just
so calming.” -Collean
“It is because my mom and her family were born near the parkway. We have had our 68th
Pittman reunion near the parkway. It is a place to go and remember all that lived a happy
life in my family near the parkway. It brought work to the locals. Some are buried off
the Apple Orchard area where many family members worked. My mom would tell stories
about her journey on the parkway. Lots of fun times she would say. We would leave my
grandparent’s home in Spruce Pine and have a picnic at one of the lookout areas every
Sunday. Favorite moments would be laying on a blanket overlooking the different shade of
blues of the mountains. It is so breathtaking. The air is fresh. You never know when you will
see wild animals. Sometimes driving through the canopy of trees gives you a peaceful feeling.
Sometimes we would drive and the rays of sun hits the road guiding us through a magical
forest. The rain or morning snow is unbelievable. It is a place to leave your stress behind. Some
trees have not been touched since they built the road. My Family members helped build the
Blue Ridge Parkway. Every drop of sweat that dropped on the road and land from their hard
work still lives on. It is a place our family call home. We cherish the gift that was given to us.
THANKS Pap and Mam.”-Renee
“Letting my daughter drive it from Asheville to Jefferson when she just got her learner’s permit.
Terrifying and memorable.” -Alan
“The Blueness of the Ridges”-Matt
“Every time I take my family to the blue ridge parkway, we find new trails to do as a family. We
have been to many over the years and every time we find a new one.”-Matthew
“Walking the trails as they change from season to season. The views--always those views!
And that it’s such a quick getaway.”-Carol
“As a child we traveled regularly to the Parkway for picnics and camping at Julien Price Park.
On pretty days we would just get on the Parkway to ride. Today I hit the Parkway for so many
of the beautiful sights along the way and the amazing hikes I am able to do. It is an amazing
resource to our state and it is free to the public. I am poor so I take advantage of anything free.
I am sad that some administrations don’t fund the BRP like it should be because those of us
who are poor enjoy the amenities and beauty that this beautiful state has to offer.”-Shari
For more info, contact the parkway: 199 Hemphill Knob Road, Asheville, NC 28803. at (828)
348-3400, or at https://www.nps.gov/blri. fD 47
Explore. Learn. Protect.
Most kids today aren’t able to freely play in the woods like their parents and grandparents did.
Our society doesn’t allow that sort of free-roaming adventure for children. The Junior Ranger
Program encourages children to play in nature, and teaches them how to be responsible
citizens while they do. It also helps them learn to notice the small things most people walk
right past, which is the first step to appreciating them. We truly have a National treasure in
our back yards, and this program helps ensure that we don’t lose site of that, and that our
kids don’t either.
Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway are working with the National Parks Service on this
wonderful program for kids. Just last year, 800,000 kids became Junior Rangers across
the country, which helps to instill a life-long love of nature. The tenants “explore, learn and
protect” summarize the sort of stewards our mountains need as we move into a future fraught
with climate instability.
The program asks children ages 5-12 to take an oath: “I, _________, am proud to be a National
Park Service Junior Ranger. I promise to appreciate, respect, and protect all national park
areas. I also promise to continue learning about the landscape, plants, animals and history
of these special places. I will share what I learn with my friends and family.”
To become a Junior Ranger, children will need the handbook, parkway map and one activity
sheet. They must complete all the activities in the handbook and at
least three of the activities on the activity sheet. Then they may bring
the completed materials to any park visitor center for a Ranger to check
their answers. Rangers are typically available from Memorial Day through
October. New Junior Rangers will receive a badge, certificate and sticker
for their handbook.
You can use this code to download the handbook and activity sheets, or you can pick them
up at any ranger station, or at www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/become-a-junior-ranger.htm.
There are 10 different activity sheets, each for different areas of the parkway. We think this
is a great way to turn a hike into a deeply educational activity. It also helps create a feeling
of ownership and responsibility for our land, and that is needed.
We salute the Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the
National Parks Service for this wonderful program. We
encourage you and your children to go on an adventure!
The Junior Rangers program helps get your kids
better acclimated with nature, and helps them gain
a deeper understanding of their place in the world.
LUX LUCET IN TENEBRIS:
A SHORT HISTORY OF THE
BY EDYTH PRUITT, ED. MADELINE EPLEY