Monday, October 7, 2013

Only in Franklin County Virginia!

What a morning it has been! Our guests are visiting from Essex England, and were interested in our Franklin County and its moonshine history. Franklin County has been called "The Moonshine Capital of the World" and for good reason. (The movie Lawless was based here)
Cecil Love (King of Moonshiners), Lin & Gary from England, Morris Stephenson (Newspaperman and author), Ken Dudley (Ex ABC Agent)
The day began with newspaper man Morris Stephenson stopping by with his book "A Night of Makin' Likker and Other Stories from the Moonshine Capital of the World" and some copies of the photos he took on one of the biggest moonshine busts ever.  (See the Franklin News Post online here, although "supposed retired" you will learn about today's event with photos from Morris in his column on Wednesday. He wanted to be sure to get it into print so our guests can bring copies back home to the UK!)
Morris with our guests Gary and Lin after breakfast at The Claiborne House
Some of the photos taken by Morris Stephenson on some past moonshine busts
From there, we went over to our local Dairy Queen where they got to meet the "King of Moonshine" Cecil Love (see Roanoke Times article here).
Cecil Love signs a portion of Morris' book devoted to him
Cecil has enough real life stories from these mountains to fill ten volumes!
Cecil Love told stories growing up with 10 or 11 siblings, picking wild peanuts in the woods and more. He said, "We knew how to survive." He told us about...

 "The local preacher who used to go into the hollers and find a moonshine still that was workin' and get some old bags or an old quilt somewhere and curl up to sleep the night, kept warm by the still." He said "Everyone knew him, and let him do it. When he got up he would be covered in ashes, even in his ears!"  

I could have listened to Cecil Love all day, what a fount of knowledge, what a legend! 

Morris told me that he meets Cecil every week here at Dairy Queen where they make the best biscuits and gravy, a whole plateful (which is true I saw them!) and Cecil will always bring homegrown tomatoes from his garden, and they will sit and eat these red ripe tomatoes with their breakfast and shoot the breeze!

Cecil spoke of more than moonshine. He told us about the mountain culture, the people who are fiercely independent, who never asked for government assistance, who grew their own food, worked hard, went to church and helped out their neighbors. Something that is rarely found in our culture today.
Cecil Love is as sharp as a tack, he even remembered me.
Cecil Love is a very sober man. When the judge asked him if he was a God-fearin' man, he assured him he was, he was even praying on the morning he was caught! 

He told us that he only sampled the moonshine like his mother would sample a stew she was cooking to make sure it was seasoned just right. He never drank the stuff himself. He was awarded a purple heart in Korea, and is a proud Franklin County son. 
Also at the DQ was ex-ABC agent Ken Dudley, who was a former Game Warden. He signed part of the book as well, for Lin and Gary. 

They were amazed to have the "King of Moonshiners" and ABC agent sitting having coffee together!

After shooting the breeze and hearing some amazing stories from Cecil Love, our guests went over to the Blue Ridge Institute in Ferrum, and met Director Roddy Moore. Roddy is featured all over the place from NPR to Documentaries on the moonshining in these Blue Ridge Mountains. They will see Roddy again tomorrow on their Mountain Life Tour.

From there, Morris called and said "Jack Powell is coming to town to meet these folks!" Jack Powell is a retired and well respected ATF Agent (aka a Revenuer). Well known for his souped up government car and wild car chases through these hills. 

Powell wrote about his adventures in “A Dying Art,” parts 1 and 2 (click here to learn more).

When you stay with us at The Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast you just never know what is going to happen! We cannot guarantee anyone gets to meet anyone, but it sure is nice when it happens. There are not many of these old timers left! As Cecil Love advises:

"Talk to people, you might just learn a thing or two!"

Visit The Claiborne House B&B online and see our rooms here.