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Fifty Years of My Life (1939 - 1990)
A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer

Drinking Virginia Moonshine

There was an old lady by the name of Nelly Finks. She still wore the old fashion clothes, the long skirt and a bonnet on her head. She lived in a logwood house all by herself on the foot-hills of the mountain far off the road. Every day she would take a walk to the store and find out the latest gossip of the day. Coming down the hill was not such a bad walk, but climbing back up that hill was very tiresome. Lu Lu and I had become very friendly with Nelly, and whenever we saw her walking up the hill again we would always give her a ride close to her house. I would drive my car as far as I could up the hill to Nelly's house. Nelly's house was far off the road, and to get to her house I had to park my car on the side of a dirt road and follow a small path to get to her house. Nelly always walked with a dogwood cane. She told us she needed that to chase the rattlesnakes away. Even when we walked to her house we saw a rattlesnake alongside our walking path. Nelly was already in her late 70's. She told us that her parents had lived in the same house. She said that during the civil war General Lee had used their property and stayed in their house. She showed us a bible that belonged to the family and was more that 200 years old. Nelly's house was located so that on a clear day you could easily see the town of Culpepper, which was about 30 miles away. I could really understand why General Lee had used their house and property during the civil war. It was so far up the hill that it made a clear observation post.

George Washington's Distillery 

Nelly never married, and Lu Lu and I wanted to know if she wasn't scared to live all by herself. She said the only thing that bothered her were the rattlesnakes and the black bears. She had two cows on her property, and they would stomp some of those rattlesnakes to death. Meeting Nelly was very interesting, as she carried some of Virginia's history on her property. Whenever Pap and Mam invited their family and friends over to their house, and most of them were close from the neighborhood, there was always a lot of drinking going on. In fact, drinking was one of their favorite pastimes.

Whenever we visited Pap and Mam, I would always get involved drinking. Mam would have a drink early in the morning. I could really tell that she was born and raised in the mountains. I was introduced to all kinds of homemade drinks. Beer was made out of sweet potatoes. I drank moonshine with them. Most of the moonshine I drank was local made. To me it tasted stronger than whiskey. It had the same flavor of some of the Dutch gin (Bols) I used to drink. All of their drinks were sold illegally in the neighborhood. People had to know you very well before they would sell some moonshine to you. The only music they enjoyed was country music. As the country music was playing they would get on the floor and start to square dance. The people all around us were all full of country, and they certainly would show it whenever they all got together and started to drink.

At night you could hear the bullfrogs making their noise. Lu Lu was fascinated by seeing those bullfrogs around and told some of our friends that when she lived in Burma she would catch them and eat them for breakfast. We were told the only time you are able to catch those bullfrogs is at night. You have to blind them with a sharp light and then snag them. With some friends one night we went frog hunting. There were several small water streams on Pap and Mam's property. People from around the town didn't like you to catch those bullfrogs. But we were on Pap and Mam's property, and nobody could tell us anything. There were many snakes around those streams, but Lu Lu had no fear for snakes as she was used to that from Burma where they had many snakes. When our friend turned the light on one of the bullfrogs, Lu Lu wouldn't give the frog a chance to get away as she would jump in the water at night and catch the frog herself. We caught about twenty bullfrogs that night, and Lu Lu fried every one of them for breakfast that morning. I must admit that bullfrog legs taste better than chicken legs.

We spent many of our weekends in this beautiful part of God's nature. It was a place where everything around you was so peaceful. There were days when I would climb up the mountain and just sit there by myself looking over this beautiful scene of nature which was only 90 miles away from Washington D.C. The people who lived there were very happy with the environment and the life style they lived. I know most of them wouldn't trade their living for anything in the world. It was a simple life but the people were very happy with it. I would always drive up the mountain road and would fill a five gallon bucket with spring water before I returned to Washington. As we were filling our bucket with spring water an elderly lady came out of one of the logwood homes. There were several of them around. She had a bucket in her hands to fill with spring water. We started a conversation, and she told us she had raised six children in that logwood home without running water inside. I asked her where she bathed all of them. There was creek alongside the house; she said they bathed there in the winter and summertime. When I drove down the hill I told Lu Lu that it's always nice to know how other people have to live.

CONTINUED: The Southland Corporation moves to Waldorf
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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora

- Foreword
- Old Rotterdam
- World War II
- After the War
- Coming to America
- Washington, D.C.
- Southeast Asia
- Philosophy of Life

- Book Index