Hot Rods at 48th Moonshine Festival

Hot Rods at 48th Moonshine Festival

By Martha Maglone:

October in Dawsonville, Georgia is the time to celebrate ‘Shine and its essential requirement: the Hot Rod.

In the southern foothills of the Appalachians, October is also the time when foliage turns color. No wonder its burnished red and gold hues coupled to a few warm days in autumn can attract up to 100,000 visitors to the storied town, which is located about 50 miles north of Atlanta.

Restored to legitimacy: Local celebrity Dwight Beardon, who experienced the highs and lows of a bootlegger’s career now plies his trade to the making of the legal stuff in Tennessee in association with Robert Mitchum’s son Jim.

Restored to legitimacy: Local celebrity Dwight Bearden (center), who experienced the highs and lows of a bootlegger’s career now plies his trade in Tennessee by making legal corn whiskey for Robert Mitchum’s son, Jim, at the Thunder Road distillery.

But plying moonshine was a hazardous trade not only in its production but also in its conveyance, usually down Highway 9 to the Atlanta suburbs. For a great many families, however, it was the only life they knew, and they often lived with the consequences when dad was apprehended and incarcerated. Youngsters knew not to discuss their illicit trade for a loose tongue, and occasionally a malicious one, caused trouble. “Everyone knew who was making liquor,” said Dolores, daughter of bootlegger Bug Mincey, “that’s the way we grew up. But we kept our mouths shut and always knew what to say when necessary.”

To accommodate its distribution, ample trunk space and a fast engine were the chief requirements of the moonshine-carrying Hot rod of the day. Here is a selection for the discerning eye, some from the period others more modern.

 

 

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