Funny, Funny Stories From my days at Eden, P.D.

By Michael D. Martin, E.C.P.D. Retired

About the author...Michael Martin (pictured front row, far right in the 1981 photo) is a retired veteran of 25 years on the Eden City Police Department, and has penned a number of anecdotal writings recalling his experiences.

XIX. Jim's Liquor

In every town in America there are always two economies flourishing. The legal and above board economy such as your shoe store or service station, then there is the underground economy such as the gambling spot or the bootlegging joint. This is not to say that the people who operated in the underground economy were bad people. They had mortgages to pay, children to raise and groceries to buy like everyone else. Police often relied on the purveyors of  the illegal for information when something bad happened.


     When I went to work for Spray PD in 1966 as a young rookie patrolman, I soon learned that if a fella did not work in the mills, he was doing something illegal, slowly....very slowly, I learned who was doing what. About a half dozen places in Spray alone, you could place a bet on a sports game and there was any number of places where a fella could find a drink of "govment whiskey" or if you had a taste for something more "country" you could easily find some good Franklin County moonshine and it could be purchased in any quantity a fella wanted.


     There was one man named Jim (last name omitted) who lived on Peter Hill Street in the Blue Creek section of Spray, Jim was a tall, strong man but I soon learned he was a nice man too. Jim would stop and talk pleasantly to you any time you saw him. Over the years, Jim had worked out an almost foolproof system for selling "shine."   Jim would get up in the early, early hours of the mornings and go to his stash with a feedsack full of pint bottles and he would piece up a gallon or so of shine into the pint bottles and since his back yard abutted land owned by Spray Water, Power and land Company, he would go onto that land and hide each pint. Then he would sit on his back porch after the sun came up and customers would come by and pay jim to direct them to a hiding spot for their pint. The customers knew not to go looking for any more because Jim was watching them. If the police raided, there was not a drop on Jim's property and we might find a couple of pints hidden in the weeds and we could not prove whose it was (remember, this was 1966).


     I guess Jim had a dozen places where he hid his main stash and it was never in the same place twice. About this time, my partner, Fat Vestal bought himself a tractor and a bushhog attachment and began to make a few dollars on the side clearing property for people. Mr. Ruffin Smith owned some land over behind his house that was overgrown with weeds and bramble and he hired Fat to clear it for him. Fat told me later that he was doing a fine job when he saw a large briar patch and he knew he needed extra power so he gave it the gas and sped up, he looked up to see Jim standing at the edge of the woods about fifty yards away, watching him. Fat said he thought that was odd until about half-way thru the briar thicket and steam came up everywhere and for a second, he thought he had blown a water hose. He changed his mind when he smelled the steam and it was a cloud of moonshine. Fat said he stopped and looked around. Jim just shook his head and walked off, Fat had just bushhogged six gallons of Jim's liquor hidden in the briar thicket.


     Fat and I were on patrol in the Blue Creek section a few days later when we saw Jim and Fat pulled over and said "Jim, was that your liquor? Jim said  no sir, hit sho won't mine! and he kinda smiled and said "Mr. Fat, I sho does hate you bushhogged dat field."

Michael D. Martin

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