Sunday, April 23, 2006

Home Brew From The Hollow Tree

Conversations with my dad last usually only a few minutes and consist mostly of my dad telling me how hard he's been working.

"Yep, I've been pretty busy. Why, just today I washed the dishes and drove over to Lowe's," he will say. "I'll tell ya, I don't get no rest."

It's almost always my mom that calls, and, like I said, I'll chat with my dad for a minute or two, but it's my mom that gives me the family updates, chit-chats about what she's read in the Marion paper and who I went to high school with that now works at the mall or at her doctor's office.

But yesterday, my dad called and left a message.

"Gina. It's dad. Call me."

I could tell by his voice it wasn't any cause for alarm. But it's always interesting when it's him that calls.

The last time he called I spent 20 minutes on the Internet looking for hinges and latches so he could build his own poolstick case. When I told him I couldn't find just the hardware, I suggested he buy a case already made.

"I've already got one already made. I wanted to make my own, see."

That's sort of his thing, too, in addition to sounding wiped out about how busy he is, he's a woodworker by hobby and is always embarking on something new to build. He's built gun cabinets, knife cases, toy boxes and gliders, but mostly he makes porch swings and cedar chests.

But I digress.

Last night I called him back.

"What happened to Don Gullett," he wanted to know.

"Who the hell's Don Gullett? I've never heard of anyone named Don Gullett."

"The Reds pitching coach," he said.

"Oh. I don't know. He guess got fired or something. We got some new owners. I'll found out for you."

Somewhere between talking about the Reds and talking about how busy he is, we got to talking about drinking, which is kind of unusual. Kind of.

"You know who can tip it back, the hard stuff I'm tellin' you... Your aunt Wanz," he said.

That's my aunt Wanda who's about 65 now.

"There was an old hollowed out tree where papaw and dad kept their home brew, and we all decided one day we were gonna try it," he said.

I start to giggle at this point. He doesn't talk much, but when he does, he gets on a roll with these old stories of growing up in Kentucky, where his dad and grandfather were tobacco farmers who drank all the time.

"How old were you," I wanted to know.

"I don't know. About 11 or 12. Anyway, me, and Ada and Wanz and Jean all met at the tree to get the home brew."

"What's home brew? Is that like moonshine," I asked. I was thinking it was moonshine because my dad's uncle Badger was a moonshiner in Bath County around that time. (Interesting side note: My great uncle Bagder's son, Bob Daugherty, is the director of the Associated Press's state photo center in Washington, D.C. All the AP photos you see in the paper goes through his office. Pretty cool, I think.)

"No, it's a malt liquor," he said. "Malt and yeast and you put it in a about a five gallon crock and let it sit there for a week. The longer it sits the stronger it gets. And there's a scum, a film that forms on top of it, and you take your hand and skin it back. And it draws flies and gnats real bad."

He paused for effect.

"Oh, it's a lot fun to drink. It's not illegal like moonshine. Moonshine, it's too long a process, and you have to have a good supply of water and heat."

He went on:

"It'll get ya drunkern a dog and sickern a mule. That's right. Papaw would say, I ain't gonna drink home brew no more. Then he'd say, We got any more, boy? Anyway, me and my three sisters were gonna try it. Now, your aunt Wanz, I ain't lyin' to ya, she can drink that hard stuff. But your aunt Ada, I'll tell you what, you've not seen a rubber ball bounce back faster than that home brew came back up. Nothin's ever been returned that fast. I bet it didn't even hit her stomach."

"Were you able to drink it," I asked him.

"I've never been able to drink hard stuff. And I can't chug or shoot anything either."

I called him back today to tell him that Don Gullet got fired along with Dave Miley last year.

"Guess it's a little late to send my condolences, huh? Oh well. I'm pretty busy right now. I'm peeling potatoes. Here's your mom."


Craig said...

Very funny. You are definitely channeling your inner Sedaris.

2 things about my dad: He's a suprisingly good dancer, but has a horrible, horrible vanity plate.

big bri said...

Quite possibly the funniest story ever, rivaling only the pie/car crash story with your mom. And everyone knows only real men build their own pool cue cases..hell, i've got 2 I built.

Gina said...

:) glad you guys liked it. i thought it was pretty funny myself.

what's the vanity plate?

craig said...


(slaps head)

Gina said...

Wow. That's awful. I'm sorry I asked.

big bri said...

Damn, that's why I couldn't get that one. And sorry G I mixed up pie and deviled eggs in your mom's story...was corrected on that one tonite by my new friend

Kelly said...

My favorite part was "I'm pretty busy. I'm peeling potatoes." :)

V. sweet.

Gina said...

Wow. Your new friend has a sharp memory.

craig said...

8 (now 9 comments?) G, this post is on fyuuuh.

big bri said...

I'll throw a little more $3 gas on it and make it 10....