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Frank Lewis Rockwell

Pap-Pap's Moonshine

By Frank Boyd

Now, as I mentioned, Pap- Pap made his own moonshine. This is a sort of tragic comedic anecdote. Pap- Pap made his own moonshine and as near as we can tell, he probably drank about a quart of it every day. He had these big old stone jugs with corncobs stuck in the top. The typical sort of thing that you see and it was very true. I don't know whether they were johns or demijohns or what they were, but he had one of them and he usually hauled it around anyplace where he had any work to do or if he was working around the barn or what have you. He would always step into the stable and take a nip or two. But as near as I can tell, he probably drank a least a quart of his own homemade moonshine every day of his life.

While your grandfather Vernon was down at the South Pole, sometime around 1941, my remembrance is that Pap- Pap was taken to the County Hospital sick. They found him up in the stable and he was laying there in the bunk and he couldn't get up and move around. Uncle Les said that he was bad sick and so they loaded him up in some sort of a vehicle, I don't know what kind and took him up to the County Hospital. Because, in those days there was no hospitalization or health insurance and all of that sort of thing. In any event, he was there I guess about six weeks. Then finally, I remember them coming and telling me that my Pap- Pap was dead; that he had gone to see God. Of course, I was a little kid and I was very upset and felt very bad about it. I grieved for my Pap- Pap. But the interesting thing is, is that later on I found out that the doctor at the County Hospital put the cause of death down as cirrhosis of the liver.

Sometime after that, there was a sort of family joke going around. I don't know who started it. It's been attributed to my mother Louella, but I don't think it is true, because I know that she loved and cared for the old man. But the story goes that Pap- Pap, according to the family Bible, he had actually been born in September of 1862 according to our records. But apparently it was said that according to the family Bible, that when he died he was 110 years old. As near as I can figure out, he was actually about 78.

But in any event, the way the story went was that Pap- Pap Rockwell lived to be 110 years old, drank a quart of whiskey every day of his life and when he died the doctor said it was the whiskey that killed him. Tragic, comedic but probably has a lot of truth to it, he wasn't 110, but, he was a grand old man.

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Copyright 2001 - Frank Boyd