Git’n the Truck!

11 02 2013

Like most young boys, I was always interested in earning money; so, at the end of each school year, I would try to find a job for the summer. One summer I worked for the father of a school-friend of mine–Beth Cook. He did plumbing along with heating and air conditioning.


In Wilson, North Carolina, tobacco was king. The county was littered with barns in which tobacco farmers would cure their crops. The typical barn had four oil-fired burners to provide the heat that literally cooked the tobacco leaves in preparation for taking the crop to market. Burners required preventative maintenance and occasional cleaning. This, of course, was good for the guys who provided this type of service because it kept them busy heading into the tobacco season which would typically begin in mid-summer.


One farmer had hired us to come to his farm to check out a malfunctioning burner in one of his barns. He had given my boss, Mr. Cook, directions to the barn over the telephone and Mr. Cook had written them in a note pad he carried in his shirt pocket.


Now, the thing about tobacco barns is that they aren’t all standing by the side of the road as tourist attractions. Some barns were built well away from the road simply because it made more sense to have your barn closer to the field than the highway. This particular barn, to which we were headed, was one such barn.

A Typical Barn

A Typical Barn


We turned off the main road and wound our way along dirt tractor paths, back through the woods past acres of tobacco fields and a creek, following Mr. Cook’s hand-written directions. Along the way, Mr. Cook commented about the barn being so far back they probably had to pipe in the sunshine. It was an old hackneyed joke but, still, I laughed because I liked him but also, he was the boss.


Finally, we saw the barn. Parking the truck just outside the barn door, Mr. Cook told me to get the tools as he got out to go into the barn. While I was getting out the tools we would need, he went inside to locate the sick burner. Before I could even get all the tools out, Mr. Cook came running, yes, running back to the truck. I hadn’t seen a fat man run like that since the Skipper chased Gilligan up a palm tree.


“Quick, Git’n the truck! Git’n the truck!” he yelled.

Brew your own!

Brew your own!


I threw what tools I had in my hands back into the tool box and jumped in just as he was backing away. What, I wondered, had gotten Mr. Cook so excited?


As we drove back down the path and past the tobacco fields and creek, at a much faster speed than when we came in, I would add, he told me we had the wrong barn.


“How could you be so sure?” I asked, “You didn’t even get inside.”


It was then he told me there was a liquor still inside that barn.

Must be National Still Smashing Day!

Must be National Still Smashing Day!


In the South there are two things you don’t do. You don’t talk bad about a man’s mama and you don’t go near his still uninvited. That’s what government agents, a.k.a. revenuers, do. But they are armed when they do it. Needless to say, we found ourselves in the wrong place… fortunately, it wasn’t the wrong time.





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