Monday, March 17, 2008

Faux's Pa -- Myles and the Moonshiner

I've always wanted to say that my pappy was a pistol and i'm a son of a gun, but, somehow, there is no way to get around that particular gender issue. Suffice to say, my old man sent me off into adulthood with a revolver and a bottle of jack. I'm not sure what his intentions were.

This story was written for a literature class in which we had to retell a story that we had originally heard in the oral tradition. I've always rather liked it hearing it from my father and as he is now 75, I have lost count of the times i've heard it.

I don't normally post pictures of my family, but this particular image sets the place, time and the character known as my father better than any words i could conjure up. ..


Myles and the Moonshiner

cl mccoy

This is a story told to me by my father, Myles, about himself as a young man. It takes place in the Mormon laden hills and valleys of northeastern Utah in the 1940s. Drinking was frowned upon by the society and a variety of blue laws that are still in existence attempt to keep alcohol out of idle hands. As a free and independent thinker, my father rejected these laws and developed his own coping strategies. First and foremost, he says, is if you're going fishing you can't just take one Mormon, you have to take two so they watch each other and not your beer.

This story is real and true and retold to the best of my ability. The names, however, are all true.

Old man Murray, that's Uncle Hatch Murray to my dad, was the sheriff of Uintah County, Utah. He was a pistol packing card shark; a scary son of a bitch who could usually be found in the back room of the Vernal Hotel playing cards with my Great Grandfather. Hatch had a no good son, named Skeet, who was my dad's age. Skeet always stayed just a few steps ahead of the law, which wasn't too difficult, seeing as his daddy was the law. This story begins when Skeet told his dad one day that he had finally found some work, but that it was out of town and he needed some good work gloves.

Now, no decent father wants his son to be throwing hay bales without adequate protection, so Hatch gave Skeet enough money to buy a fine pair of leather gloves and sent him down the road. A few days later, Skeet came crawling back into town – with no gloves and missing one of his boots. He muttered some story about getting too close to a mountain lion, which although possible in that country, was unlikely in absence of claw marks. Most folks doubted that Skeet had even bought gloves. Dad figured that Skeet had hooked up with the local tribe of Utes for a few drinks.

Skeet's first course of business upon arriving home was to go out and visit my dad. Apparently, Skeet hadn't had his fill of whiskey because he asked my dad to give him a ride out to Cooter's, the local moonshiner. Dad wasn't too interested until Skeet mentioned that he planned to ask old Cooter for a pint to be purchased on time. My dad happened to have a few bucks in his pocket, an old Chevy, and his chores were done for the day. He figured that watching Skeet try to "borrow" whiskey would provide some good entertainment. Sure enough, it did.

When they got to Cooter's, the old man poured them a each shot and they visited for quite a while. Cooter asked Skeet how his new job was working out. "Not so good" Skeet said, then he asked if he could have a pint now and pay later. As I sad, dad had enough money to buy the whiskey himself or to lend the money to Skeet, but opted not. He knew that the drink was swill and that Skeet was a bad credit risk. Cooter, too, was aware of Skeet's inability to pay for anything. Cooter practically choked on the plug of tobacco, according to my father, with laughter at the suggestion.

It was time for Skeet to learn a lesson of manhood and commerce, a lesson smart folks just know – that dealers (whether it be crack or corn whiskey) do not sell on credit, it drives away paying customers.

"Well" old Cooter says, really slow "I'd like to help you out, son, but you see, I've got a deal going on with the bank in town. The don't sell whiskey and I don't lend money." Skeet had the grace to shuffle his feet and look embarrassed. He realized it was time to go and asked my dad for a ride home. Dad obliged and then stopped at his grandfathers house for a beer and to tell the tale.

Just a short little story, here, with a lesson to be learned. I wish people could hear my dad tell the story, he has a quite the gift for storytelling as did his father and grandfather before him. I'm sure he told me this one once over a shot of Kentucky's finest when I asked for some gas money.


  1. Note to self: never name child SKEET. Note to self: drive up to visit Myles soon and casually ask to hear story.

    No matter how many times I get the story, Faux baby, I still come back for more. KEEP WRITING.

  2. Where the HELL ya been, Miss Faux? Came here specifically to tell you two things:

    1. The D. Udder reference in your comment on my blog KILLED. ME. at a moment I'm trying to fly under the radar while a meeting goes on in the next room.

    2. You ARE GOING to (this is not a request; this is a command) write a back-and-forth story with me about our dual perspectives of my grad night party. Mine is funny, yours is funnier, and together they will be GOLD. Hot damn, woman, let's start tonight!!



  3. Faux, I absolutely love your writing talent. Your style is no faux pa. I hope that you'll write often because I love it.
    Alias Liz Jones.
    (A Faux Name, by the by)

  4. It's me, grand theft wagon. :) You may be my husband's child. Your dad sounds just like my husband. Your Dad sounds like a wonderful guy. Not many people my age left to swap old memories with so it is always nice to read about them. I am sure your father is very proud.

    1. he he he :) thanks, JK :) i really thought you might like this. i have been somewhat lazy for a while, but am recovering from the loss of my father who was a key player in my life. i have many more stories, some that i intentionally put away until he was gone for reasons which will become clear. please, feel free to subscribe and that way you'll catch them when they do show up.