Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hillbilly Humboldt

We just watched a show on the History channel on Hillbilly history – narrated by Billy Ray Cyrus. Just reading the blurb made us smile so we had to check it out. As always…we’ve gotten old enough to find history interesting, dangit.

So, the account got into the inevitable stories about moonshine, stills, revenuers and shine-runnin’ as a predecessor to stock car racing -- made me think about Burt Reynolds in White Lighting. Because shine was one of the few ways for the hill folk to eek out a living, towns people turned a blind eye because of the money it brought to the economy. During Prohibition, moonshine was in its heyday, tripling in value as an accessible libation for speakeasys without access to other alcohol.

Now days, the growing of marijuana in the hills of Appalachia has replaced stills that ceased being as profitable once Prohibition ended. Think about that. What an interesting comparison between moonshine stills in the backwoods and dope grows in the hills, tucked in among the trees, visible only from the air. Defiance of the government being quietly condoned because of the money it brings to local economy. Then there's the profitability of corn likker increasing with Prohibition and becoming less profitable once it was legal. Things that make ya go hmmmmmm.


Kym said...

Humboldt had its own stills. My dad's Uncle Cy Cole was a notorious source of alcohol during prohibition.

Anonymous said...

Are you insinuating....wait, do you mean....hey, that's not even funny.

The economy here is based on medicine. You can't use alcohol for medicinal purposes....wait, well maybe you can....geez, your comparison is rather close, isn't it.

Stock car racing flourished due to Moonshining like Reggae Festivals flourished due to dope growin'.
Sounds like a reasonable parallel comparison.

Anonymous said...

I saw the same show on the History Channel and was reminded of Humboldt before it even started talking about the conversion to marijuana.

The Boy Most Likely to ... said...

Eko brings up stock car driving...the cops would take the captured moonshiners' wheels, and use them because they were faster. Well, that is one story.

Unfortunately, growing up in SoCal, the term Hillbilly was not as common. The "mexican" equivalents were called something more vulgar (in my ears at least), something about water on their backs. If I say it, I will smack myself. Anyway, I enjoy learning about Hillbilly culture. My ignorance on the local history is being dealt with thanks to Eko and Ernie!