Saturday, June 26, 2010
Edwin was his name and he was the most fascinating character in the neighborhood. He lived about 1/4 mile from the family farm, just an easy walk right up the lane. He was always dressed in clean dark overalls, the kind that have a bib and buttons with brass clasps on each shoulder. He was very intelligent and could carry on a conversation with anyone about anything. His big country grin, gentle spirit and fresh jokes were welcome everywhere he went.
His house was hidden in the shade of several towering oak trees, a simple clapboard structure. It had a detached garage with several mongrel looking dogs and a few barn cats roaming around. The yard was usually somewhat overgrown but the shady front porch still looked inviting on those hot, muggy Illinois summer days.
When I knew him he was a widower, his long time companion had sinced passed away. It seemed that since he was living alone he was a much desired companion to all the farmers of nearby "Crackers Bend." It was highly unusual to NOT see a shiny new pickup or two or three parked on the gravel/grassy driveway. His reputation as a welder had earned him much respect by folks that needed that sort of work done frequently. The art of welding metal together in that dark old barn was in much demand, for farm equipment was evidently fragile in that area.
OR his popularity could have been attributed to his stash of moonshine liquor. He knew how to brew up white lightnin', watermelon wine, blackberry brandy and more. His kitchen cupboards were always full of interesting bottles of the thirst-quenching treats.
And Edwin was generous. Once the welding was complete it was time for a swig and those farmers loved it and looked forward to the offer. Coming home to face the missus after a visit to Edwin's was an experience they were willing to endure. Unusually happy red faces and big smiles were common sights on summer Saturday evenings. Evidently it was very good stuff!
No one knew where the still was hidden but it's location was the speculation of the area. Visions of copper tubing, wood piles burning, and washed clean bottles were common. Those recipes were highly regarded legends. He never gave them away and they died when he did.
The old farmers still talk about Edwin and they miss him and his talents! Their farm equipment doesn't break down as often as it used to now. Evidently it must be fabricated from a higher quality of metal these days.