Saturday, January 03, 2009

Ozark Family Values: Raised in the Spirit

Mason Fruit Jar
Proof that the Blues Can be Good
(Image from Wikipedia)

In yesterday's blog entry, I posted more of Cousin Bill's Ozark memories of the Flora Farm where Grandma Nora raised so many kids. Some of what was revealed was a tradition of moonshining in our family background, a fact that I've actually posted on before. Bill made a brief remark about Grandma Nora that got my attention:
Grandma Nora told me a little wine was made on the farm, and would then laugh and chuckle, and would never finish telling the rest of the story.
Bill went on to note that Grandma Nora's brother Elbert Stephens and Grandpa Horace's brother Robert Hodges had a moonshine still on the Hodges farm near Elizabeth, so I figured that the 'wine' was something stronger than any mere blood of the grape, and I mused openly about my suspicions:
I wish that I knew more about why Grandma Nora chuckled when referring to that Flora Farm 'wine' . . . though I suspect that she did so because that 'wine' could have fueled her coal-oil lamps.
To which, I added:
Calling all kinfolk . . .
And, of course, kinfolk galloped to the rescue . . . or Uncle Cran, anyway, who managed to hobble in, limping on his new leg, and offer this teaser:
I know of at least a couple of occasions when spirits were served on the Flora farm.
He then elaborated:
Brother Bill (Elmo) was holding a revival at Flora Baptist, and brother Harold (Buel), with his cousin Ordean offered to drive him to church, using the horse drawn wagon. The names in parentheses are the ones used by Mom, and thus by all the siblings during our youthful days, so I will use them.

What Brother Elmo didn't know was that Buel and Ordean had a jug of homemade mountain dew in the tool box. Before arriving at the church, the wagon was bouncing on the rough dirt road and the jug exploded.

Elmo asked, "What was that?"

Buel and Ordean said, "Oh, just a water jug."

They let Elmo out at church, drove to the creek a mile west, and cleaned out the box, before joining the services. Next day Elmo searched the wagon, but naturally didn't find anything.
Buel and Ordean sound like a couple of real characters, but I don't see that any spirits were served in this instance. Rather, spirits were let down. I reckon that they're lucky that the jug of moonshine didn't really explode. By the way, could that happen?
At a later occasion, Buel and Ordean were there [on the Flora Farm], and said they would like to open a quart fruit jar of homemade grape juice. None of the rest of the family knew it, but they secretly spiked the juice with white lightning (mountain dew). I remember it well. Kathryn, Bradley, Virginia and I were innocently drinking the grape juice, and pretty soon we were a happy bunch of kids, laughing and staggering around. Buel and Ordean were also laughing their heads off. When Mom realized what they had done, she was one angry woman. Somehow the two culprits calmed her down.

That could be the "wine" that Mom was referring to.
That probably explains it (and I have a similar tale from my Baylor days). I strongly suspected that moonshine lurked behind Grandma Nora's obvious euphemism, and as is obvious from the image above, moonshine likely could fuel a coal-oil lamp . . . though that spiked grape juice that Uncle Cran recalls probably wouldn't work.

Speaking of coal-oil lamps, whatever happened to the ones that Grandma Nora still had on the farm? I recall that those lamps still had coal-oil in them and got used occasionally, especially during a storm when the electricity went out. Or is my memory faulty?

And another thing. How did Ordean get his name? Probably not by accident, though I can dream up some scenario whereby a choice was to be made between two names, say, "Bob" or "Dean," and somebody in the family preferred the latter: "Ordean." But what's the actual story?

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At 7:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beats Me!
But brother Harold Buel will be here in a couple of weeks, so I will ask him.
C. Bazzil Hodges

At 7:20 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Uncle "Bazzil" . . .

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 10:39 AM, Blogger Bill said...

And be sure it's prounounced R Dean. Dad corrected me quick when I mentioned visiting Or-dean, advising it's "R-dean" and it's the "Rrr" family, not the Orr family (Hodges' relatives). So thar you r.

At 11:26 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Wut r yew jabb-R-in' 'bout, Cussin' Bile?

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 1:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't really answer the question as to whether a jug of shine could actually self-explode, but I can say that the stuff if exposed to an ignition source will burn with almost Biblical proportion.

And I am familiar with a young man you might remember (who will remain anonymous). He always had motorcycles and when he wasn't performing dazzling but goofy stunts, he'd occasionally line up against either cars or other bikes on a local straight stretch.

There had been this guy from neighboring Viola (imagine that) who owned a car that repeatedly bested his motorcycle. Someone suggested he run a half a tank of gas mixed with a mason jar of "miracle fuel additive" or words to that affect.

To everyone's astonishment the bike beat the Chevelle.

But when the guy found out the specific "gravity" of the liquid he pouted that beating the car wasn't worth it. He did however find it acceptable to use store bought EverClear.


At 7:03 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I would have thought that he had escaped gravity using moonshine.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 2:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well that too. It was thought the guy had the strategy of keeping his front tire on the ground, at all times.

Under "shine" enhanced conditions however, his front tire had a tendency to point skyward at unexpected moments.

Now whether your point was rather that the guy himself preferred shine to enable "personal gravity-defying experiments" I'd say there, "Very likely."


At 5:30 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JK, my remark was intended entirely in levity.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understood that. And actually my remark about a front wheel leaving the ground unexpectedly was meant in the same vein.


At 7:07 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

We are thus both proficient at levitation. We must be Levites.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Genesis 40:5-7, I read:

Simeon and Levi arebrethren; instruments of cruelty arein their habitations.
O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united, for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall.
Cursed betheir anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.
Jeffery & Jk, are you sure you are Levites?....or have you reformed from your ancestry?

At 12:53 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Perhaps I'd go instead for the role of chef with expertise in leaventry.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:24 AM, Blogger Al-Ozarka said...


We got out "exploring" Friday and wound up on the Bexar Road in Fulton Co! Upon finding the old Bexar Methodist Church and Cemetery, we decided we'd drive-on through Mitchell to Elizabeth. Beautiful country!

Anyway...thought I'd share that with you.

Happy New Year, Everyone!

At 4:43 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Daddio (al-Ozarka). I've always thought the community of Elizabeth was ruggedly beautiful. The Big Creek area down there is ever more lovely as it approaches Norfork Lake.

You didn't run across any old moonshine stills, did you?

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 2:03 AM, Blogger Al-Ozarka said...

We didn't even drive by a liquor store!


I would suspect, however, that we did drive by a meth-lab or two! It is, as you probably know, the new moonshine up here in the sticks.

At 4:49 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Daddio, yeah, I know about the meth labs -- not first-hand, of course -- and have heard some tragic stories about friends of friends.

Jeffery Hodges

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