Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Great Smokey Mountains and Moonshine

Today while driving through the Great Smokey Mountains I thought of Esther for some reason. She grew up in the Ozarks in Missouri, but being in the hills here makes me think of the life that was led here and in the Ozarks many years ago. They made so many things themselves, grew their own food and raised their own meat, butchering it themselves. They also made their own "spirits", if you know what I mean. I think all the dandelions along the highway made me think of it. Esther talked about making dandelion wine as a youth. The entire time I knew her, if she had some fruit that had gone bad, it was no loss, it was the beginning of some wine. I don't drink, so I never knew if it was good-tasting or not. I found out later.

When she was about 79 years-old, she and her sister, Venice tried living together.  It didn't work out, but I have this memory from a time we visited them.  Esther brought out a large jar with some foul-looking, thick, pale-orange liquid inside of it.  She drank some and then offered it to Venice, who made a face and in a very disgusted manner said, "No, I like good wine."  Venice then went on to criticize Esther's wine-making abilities, saying that she did it wrong and it tasted bad.  Esther pulled herself up very straight, closed her eyes, inclined her head towards Venice and said in a very firm, flat voice, "It is an acquired taste."


DonS said...

I am a descendant of a line of Swertfegers who moved from Ogden, Iowa to Virginia around 1900. From what I can determine we have the same great great grandparents - August and Bertha Swertfeger. My grandmother was Olive Swertfeger and she married John Spiers. I have been living in Columbia, Missouri since 1991. It would be great if we could correspond.

Jerry said...

Great to hear from another Swertfeger via this site our son, Grant, set up some time ago. My father and Floyd Swertfeger, who lived near Richmond, VA, are first cousins. My grandfather is William John Swertfeger, son of August Benhardt Schwertfeger. jerry.swertfeger@gmail.com

DonS said...

Jerry - I apologize for not seeing your earlier message until now. I would definitely like to learn more about your side of the Swertfeger family,