The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Blue Ridge Mountain Signals

By W. Bruce Wright © 1996

Issue: Spring, 1996

In the late 40's or early 50's, I was invited to a deer hunt in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was early December and we stayed 4 or 5 nights. We were at an old weatherboard inn. Some of the events I recall quite vividly.

Upon arrival, late in the afternoon, I was ushered to a second floor room. I think that the bed had a feather tick mattress because it was very soft and comfortable. There was a towel, a bar of soap in a dish, a large ceramic wash bowl, a large ceramic pitcher of water and one drinking glass on the dresser.

It was about dinner time so in order to show appreciation, I offered an appetizer. I came from a county where one could buy distilled spirits from a State ABC Store. The Inn was in a dry county. Thinking that a spot of good old southern bourbon would be appreciated. I retrieved from my luggage a bottle and set it on the dresser and said, "Help your self!" This appeared to be welcome because my host said, "Just a minute."

I assumed that my host had gone for more glasses because there was only one on the dresser. He returned in a few minutes with more glasses and a two quart glass jar filled with what I assumed was spring water for mix. It turned out that the contents of the fruit jar was about 175 proof peach juice. It was good because my ABC bottle remained almost full until the distilled peach juice was all gone. Proof that it was "good stuff" is that it would go puff when a lighted match was held over a glass with some "juice" in it. It was two or three days before my ABC bottle was tolerated and that was after all of the peach juice was gone!

The Game Warden in the area was a frequent visitor. He was convinced that The Folks at the Inn had killed a deer illegally. The Folks had done so but the Warden couldn't find any proof but he did eat some of the illegally killed venison when he had dinner at the long family style table.

The folks at The Inn had questioned the Warden repeatedly about where to buy some more moonshine. He had offered some suggestions to which The Folks replied, "We've tried there before we asked you and they are sold out." This was repeated a few times before the Warden, after insistent and persistent questioning, finally broke down and told The Folks where to buy some more moonshine. I was told that he was extremely careful because he feared that word would get out to the "revenuers." He also warned The Folks that if they didn't follow his signals exactly, that the seller of the moonshine would not know them or have any idea of what they wanted. The instructions were to drive to the house and blow the horn once. But if any traffic was coming, to drive by and return when there was no traffic. After sounding the horn, wait a few minutes and then open and close the mailbox twice. Apparently the signals were correct because the new supply lasted until I went home.

Oh, Yes, I did get an exceptionally fine 14 point buck!

Another Oh Yes! It broke my heart when I drove by twenty or so years ago to find that the Inn was nothing but a pile of ashes.