Grant battles with the tough rules of the Moonshine community. His life was repeatedly at risk as he attempted to follow his father's strict orders to guard the business during shootouts while keeping all that went on a secret from his few friends. The fear of capture by law enforcement paled in comparison to the horror of his father's beatings when a plan fell apart.. He repeatedly extracted valuable life lessons from horrible scenarios. This covers 12 years of a kid's survival in a moonshine family. Will he reach adulthood without deep emotional wounds?
You could fire a shotgun in the front door and out the back without
touching a wall.
That's a shotgun house.
Events occur repetitiously in one's life. Those events have a way of
embedding themselves into your memory, hiding and taking up residence
within your subconscious whether you like it or not. In this instance,
that applies to me. Because of that 'Truth', the mention of a single
word triggers the projection of a picture into my conscious mind like
one had pressed the 'Play' button on a digital recorder. For me, that
key word is Moonshine. The mention of it signals a parade of images
through my brain. Some of the images are nice. Some are not. I was
born into a family that made and sold whisky. My Father made it in the
woods and sold it in town. Like it or not, I was along for the ride.
A dominant image set materializes when I recall my life in a moonshine
family. It is a frame set that originates during a period when I was a
small, bored kid with few expectations and much less for entertainment.
Mentally, the images begin rolling like a B movie in a cheap theater. I
believe I can faintly smell the popcorn. In those images, I'm sitting
in a hot car with the window down waiting for my dad to negotiate a sale
with a potential whisky buyer. In this scene, my age is about 9 or 10.
The scene was frequent and familiar. It's Arkansas summertime on a dirt
road. For those who are unfamiliar with the classic southern climate,
that means hot, humid and sweaty. The road is named the Sand Road,
because it is. I'm sitting in front of a row house that is alongside
another row house sometimes called a 'Shotgun'. I can smell the weeds.
I can smell the dogs. They make their home under the porch. I can
smell my own sweat. My personal odor deepens depending on how long I'd
been sitting there in the sunshine in the car waiting for Alva to talk
to the buyer. Alva was my dad. And, he had always been 'Alva', never
'Dad'. The handle was his preference since before I could remember.
I'm still puzzled by his choice of his name rather than the traditional
'Dad'. Perhaps he was in denial that I was his son. That thought was
not lost on me. That 'buyer' was consistently black. The buyer always
seemed to live in a ram-shackled old house located in a poor part of
town. This one fit the pattern. The house in this image was the style
known as the 'Shotgun'. That meant the rooms, two or three, were all in
a row. Sometimes several houses of this type of were erected side by
side from the same plans. Always, poor people lived in them. Throughout
the south, 'Shotguns' were constructed for sharecroppers. Here, there
were no sharecroppers. There were no crops. Just destitute people
living in run down houses. Often they paid no rent. They lived from
one welfare check to the next. And, they barely lived. They were lucky
to have a squalid roof over their heads at night. The 'Shotguns' were
simple designs and cheaply constructed. They were named appropriately.
The saying was, you could fire a shotgun through all the rooms, in the
front door and out the back without the blast ever hitting a wall. It
would be a straight shot. Hence the name. The 'customer', especially in
this case, was also likely someone that Alva had courted for a while
prior to the first sale. He would often make his customer choice based
on his opinion of their potential. He was customarily correct in his
assumption of their latent ability to resell. Alva seemed to be forever
parked in front of an old house making a deal while I sat sweating in
the parked car. He was always making a deal to sell a gallon of whisky
in a clear glass jug, delivered later in the moonlight.
Excerpted from "Moonshine" by Grant Burris. Copyright © 2015 by Grant Burris. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Grant moved from Arkansas to California when he was about 19 years old. At that time he was married and had a daughter who was 3 months old. In California he worked at a Buick dealership for 22 years. During that 22 year span he took a break for 2 years, bought a large motor home and toured the entire United States with his wife, Nanci. In 1988 he purchased an auto repair business named, the Tune Up Shop. He has owned and operated that business in Costa Mesa, California for 27 years after transforming it into a premier classic car and hot rod shop. He has commented frequently regarding how stress free his career is. I have heard him say, "I can't wait to get to work in the mornings."
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