Monday, September 20, 2010

Indiana Moonshine

.................................... Model A Ford

My dad bought his first car, a Model T, when he was just fourteen in 1931. He relates a great story about the time he hauled moonshine in his Model T. My dad lived with his parents in northern Indiana, five miles from Lakeville, a small town ten miles south of South Bend. A neighbor who lived nearby offered illegal whiskey to the area residents. One day this neighbor approached my father, a boy of about fifteen, with the proposition of hauling moonshine from South Bend to the local area. Dad would receive five dollars, a lot of money in the 1930s, to haul the five gallon tin. Being just a young kid, my dad could not resist sampling the merchandise on the trip back. Of course, one sip was more than enough as it was powerful stuff. He later learned that the moonshine was cut with fifty percent water before final retail distribution.

I wrote Indiana Moonshine with the connections of Model T, Moonshine, and Indiana rolling around in my head. Please keep in mind that neither of my grandfathers made moonshine and that my Dad only made the one bootleg run described above.

Indiana Moonshine

Now everybody believes
That Moonshine was only in Kentucky or Tennessee
That’s what they perceives
I am here to tell you that just ain’t so
Plenty shine made in Indiana and Ohio

Granddad boiled it strong
Cooked that moonshine way back there on the farm
Distilled it all day long
Dripped Hooch almost every day
Daddy drove the booze in his Model A

Granddad never took a drop
But he knew how to boil it up from corn mash
He learned from his Grandpa
Came from down in Tennessee
Back in eighteen ninety three

All a hundred eighty proof
Daddy carried to the south side of She-call-go
Took the old forty-one root
Switched the springs with steel shims
Made for a rough ride on his shins

Put a V8 into his Model A
Had the fastest car on that side of the state
Delivered every Thursday
A tanker in the Model A’s rear
He drove that Ford with no fear

During those prohibition dates
Granddad had the biggest still in Posey County
Maybe the biggest in the state
FDR pledged prohibition closure
So Grandpa voted for Mr. Hoover

Well the country moved wet
And Granddaddy’s distill business went dry
They found the still one sunset
And tore all the copper down
So Grandpa moved into town

Daddy sold the Model-A
To a guy who took it west and chopped it to a pup
Who wrote a song one day
About the Hot Rod Lincoln
Its speed and its eight pistons

Now you know the whole story
I’m here to say my pappy once drove that Model A
Years before it came to glory
It hauled shine thru Indiana
In that great prohibition era

Now everybody believes
That Moonshine was only in Kentucky or Tennessee
That’s what they perceives
I am here to tell you that just ain’t so
Plenty shine made in Indiana and Ohio
Plenty shine made in Indiana and Ohio
Oh yeah Indiana and Ohio

My pappy once drove that Model A
That’s what I’m here to say
Plenty shine made in Indiana and Ohio
And that’s why I’m here to tell you so
Oh yeah Indiana and Ohio

Copyright 2011 Wayne Nolen. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Revenge on the Union Pacific

I find myself sometimes trying to imagine what it was like to be a hobo traveling the country by freight train looking for a job during the 1930s. I am sure that many railroad workers felt a strong empathy towards these out of luck men and treated them reasonably well. But just as Ernest Borgnine’s “Shack” in the movie Emperor of the North portrays, there were also sadistic railroad men who took it upon themselves to rid hobos from their trains with vicious violence. Of course these railroad men were almost never punished due to the complicity of the railroad companies and law enforcement agencies not to prosecute vicious attacks on the hobos.

I wrote Revenge on the Union Pacific as a fictional instance about a hobo who did inflict a type of vigilante justice; or was it merely revenge?

Revenge on the Union Pacific

I remember Ned but now I guess I’m just about the only one
When I close my eyes I still see his body a-layin’ on the track
Bloodied and smashed in two and a-lookin’ all gray and ashen
Left to rot like an old deer carcass on the track after the attack

I remember Ned and I remember that shiny old ball-peen
And the conductor who hammered it into old Ned’s head
Ned a-struggling to hang on to the hitch but falling between
Freight cars and his eyes a-staring at me after he was dead

Old Ned and me were hobo pals back in nineteen thirty-three
That is until he went down and was not to finish his last ride
On the old Union Pacific on that so very long ago journey
Never again to run and jump aboard a train from along it’s side

I seared the face of that murdering railroad man into my mind
For I new that some someday somewhere we again would meet
And that it would be a fight and would be the end of the line
For one of us and my revenge would either fail or be complete

In June of thirty four while riding the Pacific just as I had foreseen
I looked up and I see those evil eyes bearing down on me and I see
He’s coming after me his arms a-swinging that same old ball peen
The day had come and I knew that neither of us would show merci

He’s moving at me with that old hammer but I deflect the blow
And we take a tumble onto the back porch of that old red caboose
And I grab the mallet and go after that vicious old railroad bull
But then he snatches a chain that tangles me but then I get loose

He whips the chain at me aiming to put me down and finish me off
I grab a stick and thwart his assault and sling the chain overboard
So far the skirmish between me and that killer is just a standoff
We again come at each other swinging away with sticks and boards

I grab a fire ax from the back of the caboose and give a mighty swing
And sink that hatchet into the shoulder of that old tyrant so blood
Gushes like a fountain but he still is trying and ignores the bleeding
I give him a shove with that old axe to his chest using all my Hatred

He stumbles over into the wilds below roaring like an old bull moose
And he yells that it’s not over between us but I know he’s seen his last
I holler back remember Ned and feel your just comings short of a noose
And I ride the Pacific that last time and know that my time has past

Copyright 2011 Wayne Nolen. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Hot Rod Jet Streak

My Grandpa and Grandma with their new 1955 Studebaker Commander

And my Grandpa's 1955 Studebaker Commander in 2000

In the early and mid 1950s Studebaker Corporation was still a primary manufacturing company in South Bend, Indiana, but in rapid decline. My grandfather and an uncle worked for Studebaker Company during this time. Studebaker merged with Packard Motor Car Company in 1954. However, intense competition between the big three finally put Studebaker-Packard under in 1966. Although the Studebaker Company no longer exists as a physical entity, it is still fondly remembered by those of us who grew up in and around South Bend.

The biggest engine used by Studebaker in the mid 1950s was the Packard 352 cubic inch. However it has been rumored that Studebaker installed the Packard 374 cubic inch engine in a few 1956 Golden Hawks. However, there is no evidence that this rumor is true. I thought it might be fun to come up with a scenario that at least one of these mystical cars from Studebaker did exist. Thus, I wrote Hot Rod Jet Streak:

Hot Rod Jet Streak

When I left school in fifty-three
I was driving an old four door sedan
I was a rippling stud a-roaming free
And wanted to dump the old oilcan
So with the help of my Uncle Bernie
A loyal Studebaker Brothers man
I got a job at the engine block factory

By fifty-six my Nash was wore out
The fenders rusty
The floor eaten away
The engine so weak it hardly put-out
A cloud of smoke a-following me all day
So I asked my uncle to be on the lookout

For a machine that was more to my style
So he said now you just hold on awhile
And I’ll sure get you a deal worthwhile
And he turned and walked away with a wink

He tested cars at the proving grounds
Was their best driver and before auction
He caught deals that would really astound
And so I knew it was gonna’ be a good one
So I waited in anxious high anticipation

That day he drove that beauty up the lane
Man was I in shock
I mean I could barely even talk
I just stood and gawked
For he rolled up you see
In a shiny slick Stuudie Golden Hawk

He stepped out with a his biggest grin
And said here take for a spin
I jumped in
And to begin
I tapped the pedal
And she took a backspin
I said what’s under the hood
But I thought I knew
It’s a three fifty two?
For I knew that was the biggest engine Studebaker used
He said no and smiled amused
It’s a genu-wine Packard blown out
Three seventy four cubes

He added she is the one and only Hawk Jet Streak
There’re never be another like her
She is all unique
Adding to the mystique
Saying she officially doesn’t exist
So to speak
You see I had to have her papered
As a standard Golden Hawk V8
So I could write up the registration
To get her out the gate

See I tested her
She buzzed like a bee
But one of the guys in suits
Took a ride with me
And decided the jet streak went a little too quick
So I was told by my boss
To strip out the big block
And scrap the brute

We stopped at the City Service
And I lifts the hood
And I couldn’t believe
On that big block stood
Two four barrel carbs
With big openings to breath
I asked the attendant for regular please
And my uncle says hold it right there

You better make that ethyl
You see
She has a ten to one compression ratio
She’ll put out three hundred and ten horsepower
There’s none faster no-where

I’ll tell you that beauty was worthy of her name
Cause she was never beat
To begin I took on a vette
With its ‘two eighty three’
Injectors and four speed
Let me tell you she tore that vette
A brand new one
Man was that ever sweet

She burned down a sleek
Hemi-powered C Three Hundred
That very next week
Then next month
Looking for more to tame
She put a ‘three twenty seven’
Rambler Rebel to shame
She put away a Bird Quad
‘Two ninety two’
And the streak was attaining fame

The following week
I got a visit
From the state police
Asking about the streak
Saying there was word out
That I was racing the Jet Streak
Out on the street
I assured that cop with my best humor
That this was a just a malicious rumor
But I knew I better cool it
So I put the streak
In the barn for the winter
And went back to the old oil bucket

Well the remainder of this story is very sad
You see that was the last
I drove the Jet streak
For one night I looked out the window all aghast
For I could plainly see
The old barn was burning down
Around the streak

After the fire my eyes started to weep
My legs were heavy
And my voice was weak
For I knew that this was the end
Of the one and only Hot Rod Jet Streak

Copyright 2011 Wayne Nolen. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.