Popcorn Sutton was a famous bootlegger. His illegitimate youngest son was James. James was a close friend of my dad and they came for Christmas a few years back. We experienced some interesting tales.
James taught us how to tell what proof each moonshine was. Never had to use this information, but chock it up for, “interesting”.
James was always seeking his estranged dad’s approval. He was a steady runner of moonshine from when he was old enough to reach the pedals of a truck. His area was Cocke county which was the home of many distilleries up in the hills, not far from the Smokey Mountains. His customers would include neighbors and local judges. They left cash in envelopes and James would replace them with jars of moonshine.
His teeth showed the deterioration by the moonshine. As he explained the distilling process, he noted his body shaking addiction to the first fruits coming from the copper pipes of a distillery. Of course, his operation was accused of selling liquor and not paying taxes among other charges. James closest encounter to getting caught was when he was driving in town and caught the glimpse of a four door government car with a well groomed suited guy driving. The car layed back and followed James through town.
James drove to a mountain road he was very familiar with and took his truck up the path a few miles and kept going even after the trail stopped. This was one of his mountains. James found a nest of large rocks and took up his rifle and homemade shells and settled in for a watch. The car couldn’t make it across one of the creeks so the FBI guy had to hike a few miles on foot.
The FBI agent spotted James and took a shot at him. Every time the FBI guy stuck his head out James took a shot. This went on for a few days. James was quite accustomed to finding and foraging food in the woods. He actually took my husband on a hike in the Townsend hills and showed him what to eat and not to eat. There is a root that will actually reduces hunger.
After a few days there were no shots coming from the FBI guy, he ran out of ammunition. James stashed his product in the floorboards and cruised down the hill. There was a nod and a finger wave as the now scruffy, hungry, bullet-less FBI guy returned the nod and finger wave.
Bet he’ll never go after a man on his mountain without lots of ammo and food. Well, ends up the mountain went to the very judge that was his customer for years. James had to do time for not paying taxes. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.