Ozark Family Values: Raised in the Spirit
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.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?
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.
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 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.
That could be the "wine" that Mom was referring to.
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?