“Cuttin’ It Fine”

Hallelujah, By and By…


This here’s Grandpap’s story, like we heard from time on top o’time.  And lawsy, it don’t never get old!


Well, come the Pro-hibition, also come them folks what fell to both sides o’that fence.  Them what believed strong in bein’ Pro-hibited, and them what believed strong in bein’ fully hibited.

We Goodwells, Grandpap leadin’ that march, fell firm on the hibitation side.  Could o’been the successful commercial endeavor and the benefits therein and thereof.  Could o’been the fame what fell even heavier upon the Goodwell family and to which most our kin ‘cross Denton County and further yonder was right grateful.  Could o’been the joy of servin’ the community in a way ’twas uplifitin’ and intoxicatin’ both at the same time.

Could o’ jest been Grandpap, he didn’t like nobody tellin’ him jest what he could nor could not do.  Nor did he reckon as a red-bloodied American he’d never be forced to give up any freedom whatsoever.

And let’s call his pade a pade, Grandpap then and now is as durned stubborn as a Missouri mule.

And proud of it.

Well, the Goodwells (did I mention this is, law, twenty years prior to this here tellin’?  That’s plumb a decade ‘r more!), they continued in their happy ways, makin’ kith and kin healthy, if not wealthy and wise.  Grandpap, and Daddy and his brothers too, they guarded that recipe with thur lives.  They ain’t, none of them, never revealed the secrets of the ingredients nor the secrets of the brewin’ to this day.  Big Brother Linc, bein’ he’s the oldest of all my brothers and sisters, he’ll be the next to be  let in on it, if we was producin’….., but me, I’m further on down the line.  I reckon I’ll wait my turn.

Got no choice in the matter, says I.

If we was producin’…..

But I digress.

Grandpap, ‘cordin’ to him and Daddy and the uncles still hereabouts, he’d do all the orderin’ of the corn seed, he’d oversee the haulin’ of the goods up down the hill trail past that ol’ holler out to the back forty.  Him and one or two or t’other of his boys would spend ‘couple afternoons ever’ week “out to the shed.”  That there?  That’d be code fer “we’s all out to the still a’doin’ the brewin’.  Steer clear.”

Grandmama, her job was to worsh all them Mason jars what needed fillin’ and re’fillin’.  Doubt she much minded.  She did enjoy her Kansas City outtin’s so.

Daddy’ll usually inject a word at this point in Grandpap’s story, ‘splainin’ how Grandpap’d hardly never let them fellers work the ‘shine alone.  Wudn’t a issue o’trust, mind you, he’d say, noddin’ and smilin’ Grandpap’s way, ’twas a matter of quality control.

And Grandpap, he was self- commisioned controller of said quality, takin’ it right serious.  Jest a spoonful here ‘n there, Daddy’d say.  And here Grandpap’d do the noddin’.

Clear heads on the manufacturin’ side was paramount.  “Cain’t be caught a’drinkin’ the profits!” was Grandpap’s contribution to this aside.

Well, time come they began to hear tell o’raids and revenuers and spies and sneaks spreadin’ like greasy fingers from the North and East, even fer as Chicago!  Over to Jeff City, big outfit operatin’ within’ spittin’ distance from the Capitol Buildin’ of the Grand State of Missouri, well, once they heard the law was a’comin’, ‘stead o’hightailin’ it out the county in them grand stretch cars I seen out to the big road, why, they jest sent the whole pro-duction and inventory up in blazes.  Left them revenuers a’holdin’ they hats and a’scratchin’ they heads.  Couldn’t find hide nor hair of contraband nowhere.  Burned to smithereens, it all was.  Grandpap heard tell it was a far lit with God’s own hand.  Now, I cain’t imagine God didn’t get Him some help by layin’ this mission on somebody’s heart.  Didn’t matter one iota, anyhow.  Wudn’t a thing them lawmen could do but move on.

Missouri is, after all, known belovedly  as “The Show Me State,” and the way I see it, ‘lessin’ they could find them some stills to smash or barrels to ax, they was up a crick with not one paddle.

‘Course, them revenuers, they was a breed.  Law and order was what they eat fer dinner.  They wudn’t like to give up, nosireeBOB!

And ‘course, neither would Grandpap.

The story always jumps ’round this here part.  Tales o’other manufacturers and they brushes with the law.  The sadness in Grandpap’s voice when he spoke, even now, of thur losses and losses of livelihoods, like to broke the listener’s heart.

We, all us newer Goodwells, we’d shake our heads sorrowfully and look to the floor.  ‘Twas expected, y’see.

Then!  Have Mercy and Hallelujah!

With a roar like a freight train heavy loaded runnin’ hot, Grandpap, he’d let out a warhoop!

“Not this man!  Not this day!”

And we, all us newer Goodwells, we’d tumble from our chairs or prostrate ourselves on the floor in laughter and joy!   ‘Twas also expected, y’see.

Story goes, Grandpap was jest a whittlin’ some little do-hickey on the front veranda of the big ol’ white house to the top of the purty hill.  Jest a’shootin’ the breeze with his boys, dog Buford lyin’ like he was dead, always at his feet.

Near my whole life, we’ve had us a Buford o’some mix or t’other.  Always a good huntin’ dog who’d love Grandpap better’n life.

We do find us some smart hounddogs.

Well, this day in question, was a lazy, hazy afternoon.  Soft breeze waftin’ the long green grasses of the vast front yard.  Birds was too lazy to even sing, ‘cept ever now and a’gin.  Sun was that thick yeller color, shootin’ sleepy shadows longways out from all them oaks.  Bugs was a’buzzin’, Grandmama was a hummin’ from somewhere deep in the big ol’ house, a late afternoon God-given fer contemplation and gratitude fer his gifts.

Like most summertime afternoons to this here very day.

Well in a snap, that ol’ revery was plumb broke!  Spinnin’ dust and ol’ Model T engine a whinin’ and a strainin’, come speedin’ up the lane from the bottoms down below.  Heard him ‘fore seein’ him, Grandpap and the boys, and even Buford rose to attention with wonderment!  Didn’t nobody never hurry nowhere this time o’day!

Even now, Grandpap reckons his first thinkin’ must be Judgement Day, fer certain, ‘cept he don’t recall hearin’ any trumpets soundin’.

E-ventually, that ol’ car rumbled and bounced its to the top of the purty hill, all dirt and swirls and hollers and bodies leapin’ from the front and back and ever’ whichever!  Grandpap said didn’t nothin’ settle, not even fer a minute, but in all the hullabaloo, he recon-ized Dep’ty Junior Macinaw, known ferever as “Bubba.”

Bubba jest jumped ’round hollerin’ to high heaven, a’wavin’ his beefy hands and flailin’ a’bout like he’d got him the rabies,  but them few words what Grandpap could decipher was them ones he’d dreaded for some time,

“Revenuers is comin’!  Revenuers is comin’!  Hide the ‘shine!  Hide the ‘shine!”

The way Grandpap relays the story, why, jest about this moment, I’m so durned het up I kin hardly suck in a breath, much less push it out!

Well, there’s more to this story, it only picks up from there!

It’s a whopper!

“Hallelujah, by and by!”







“Cuttin’ It Fine!”

I’ll Fly Away...


So here’s the story, shot straight and true from Grandpap his ownself.

This here is the year o’ our Lord Nineteen and Twenny-Two.  Grandpap ain’t a young man, still, he’s nigh on twenny or so years to the younger side then he is rat now.  But to hear him tell, he was a whale o’ a whippersnapper and law, I’m like to believe him!

If you knowed my Grandpap, you’d know!  He’s a go-getter!

Now Daddy, Daddy, him and Mama’s jest been married a short time, ain’t even had them Lincoln yet.  They was still a’goin’ to Saturday night dances down to the pool hall and holdin’ hands down the lanes of the purty hill on which the Goodwell land then sat.

‘Course, Mama’n Daddy still hold hands and can still cut them a rug somethin’ fierce.

We just don’t live up on that purty hill no more.  Goodwell prop’ty these days is a deep, skinny patch o’ low lands down to the bottom o’ that same hill.  I’ll catch Grandpap lookin’ up top, wistful and eyes yearnin’ fer them days, but he don’t never complain none, not Grandpap.  Neither does nobody else.  Times was hard and parcels needed sellin’ to keep the family a’floatin’.  Grandpap did what he could and us Goodwells, we don’t look backwards, says I.  Our family’s stuck together, one fer all and all fer t’other fer as long as our history’s been writ ‘r recollected.

We Goodwells is a proud folk, I tell you what, times bein’ thick ‘r thin.

And them same times, thick ‘r thin,  Grandpap, he’s always been revered and beloved by one and all.  Folks of influence, they ask him fer advice and counsel.  Judges and dep’ties and mailmen, they all look to Grandpap fer di-rection and guidin’. Little ol’ ladies down to the church, and the neighbors down the road, they’ve always considered Grandpap a guidin’ light and a source of knowledge and common sense.

Dogs’ll heel, cats’ll purr, and wild ponies’ll settle come Grandpap’s call.

Wudn’t no diff’rnt back in them days, neither, ‘cept Grandpap had land and money, and a real good recipe for real good ‘shine.

(And truth be tol’, we still got that recipe and we still be producin’, but we keep that to ourselves, mostly, and I’m a’hopin’ you’ll honor us and do the same.)

Well, in them days, inbibin’ of inny sort was against the law. Pro-hibition, they called it.

Now bein’ law abidin’, Bible-believin’ Christian folk, Goodwells never once per-ported to scoff at the law of the land.

Never once, how-some-ever, did he b’lieve fer one minute this here abobination applied to him or his. This here law, well, Grandpap just couldn’t abide

And didn’t.

And hear tell, his production, it bounded by jumps and leaps and the Goodwells was makin’ money hand over fist, and stuffin’ ever’ mattress and ever’ piller in the big ol’ two story white house what sit plumb center o’ the purty hilltop.  Daddy’n his brothers all had them the best lookin’ boots and ridin’ kit.  Grandmama (she was livin’ then, but she fell dead in the pasture some years later, but before I come along.  Lincoln and Lawrence, they say she smelled of lilac and wore sparkly pins in her blue gray hair.  Sometimes I’ll see her in my sleepin’ dreams and  I reckon she’ll be a’waitin’ at them pearly gates fer me one day…), she had her store bought dresses and went down to Kansas City near ever’ month ‘r so jest to shop fer purties!  Law!

Well, the Goodwell side business, it was common knowledge, and ’twas common knowledge Grandpap and his secret sauce done put purt’near ever’ other manufacturer in Denton County out of business.  Cream o’ the crop, some said.  Folks’d come from two, three counties beyond jest fer some jars of Grandpap’s brew.  Didn’t nobody but family know the hill trail back to the still.  Grandpap refers to it still as “The Plant.”  But ever’body knowed the little turnout at the bottom o’ the lane and the bottom of the purty hill where he’d have his boys drive down a load o’ rattlin’ Mason jars a jigglin’ inside with lightnin’ strong ‘nough to peel the skin rat off yer tongue!

Now, Grandpap and his kin, they only used it fer medicinal purposes.  Grandpap assures us ever’ time he tells this here story.

And commences to remind us we Goodwells now would do the same thing, if we was still in production…..

And Grandpap, while he believed strong jest what folks did with his ‘shine once they purchased it was they own business, he did have faith they was wise with they usage.  He’d often say he was only providin’ what the Good Lord give him the skill to provide, and that till his dyin’ day, he was obligated to serve the Lord by usin’ the gifts he was given.

And again, ever’ tellin’, he steps into the right now to remind us we got us the same responsibility till our own dyin’ days.

If we was producin’.

He gets hisself all red-cheeked and a’grinnin’ at the rememberin’,  recallin’ how it done him good,  always pleased him like punch, when folks’d come back fer Mason Jar refills.  Called his customers his “people.”

Grandpap, he’s a “people person.”

And them judges and them dep’ties and postmen and church ladies and neighbors, and even some o’ them dogs and cats and ponies, well, they all inbibed one time t’other.  And they always come back, says he.

But then.

(And here’s where we, all us Goodwells, we get all het up and set up straight with anticipation!)

Then come the rev-nuers.

Boy howdy!  I like to die ever’ time he gets to this part!



“When I die, Hallelujah!”






“Cuttin’ It Fine”

“I’ll Fly Away….”


Grandpap, that spiky white-haired feller’s always plumb full o’ tales and recollections.  Part of this family’s entertainment come evenin’ is to get him a’goin’.  Don’t take much, just a prod here and over there, then I tell you what, he’s off to the races and all us kids, all we Goodwells, well, we all look to one another with that special deep eye smile what speaks of knownin’ and not a’guessin’.

That his recallin’ gits grander with ever’ tellin’, why, that just adds to the jolly-fication.  We don’t mind one iota.

And this here grandson o’his, why, I take it all fer gospel, you bet.  My Grandpap, he’s lived hisself a long and robust life.  Over and over again.  Them memories o’ his sing out deep strong!

Here’s one o’ my favorites.

And I’ll swear (don’t tell Mama) I will hereby lay down pen to paper an honest recountin’, faithful and true, jest the way Grandpap recounted it to all we Goodwells.  On more’n one occasion.

That I cain’t account fer Grandpap’s po-tential stretches of them truths, well, that jest don’t count fer much. Way I figure is he’s jest a rememberin’ a little more each tellin’.

Fine by me.

So here’s the deal.

Our family, we Goodwells, we long been stalward residents of Denton County, Missouri, up north o’ Kansas City and east some of St. Joe.  Grandpap was born here, and his grandpap, and even his grandpap before.  We lived high on the hill and high on the hog, we lived in the river bottoms with no livestock ‘tall to speak of.  But all the while, we been kit and kin and tied tight like families is s’posed, and our history is wove through the history of this here durned county and state theyselves.

Ain’t a slew o’ recollections ’bout Grandpap’s grandpap’s grandpap.  Only he come over from Scotland with him a German wife, settlin’ here long ‘fore near anyone else but Osages and Wyandottes.  Claimed them a little bit o’land and built them a little bitty cabin down to the bottom of a right purty green hill.  Remains o’which we Goodwells, we play in and out of right regular.

Brother Lawrence, he burned some o’ the logs fer a weenie roast when he was knee high to a tall Indian.  Let’s jest say he ain’t never makin’ THEM sort o’plans a’gin.

Well, Grandpap’s Grandpap, he fought in the War ‘Tween the States, Confederate blue through and through.  Fought firm ‘gainst his own kin who took they the Union side.  He was known fer the ac-cumulation of all the Goodwell land stretchin’ near county line to county line and clear to the top o’ that purty hill and beyond.  He was known too,  fer these massive potlucks, set up out ‘neath a grove o’ oaks  up on that there hill, beaconin’  Goodwells far and wide ever’ Sunday afternoon come summer, Union or Reb.

Then, they was Grandpap’s daddy.  Hear tell, he was some sort of trouble, renegade and cowboy, a’livin’ the Wild West clean with shootouts and dancin’ gals out to Kansas and Colorado.  Made it back eventual, less the bottom half o’a leg, married the daughter o’ the judge, ‘n then raised hisself a slew o’boys, Grandpap bein’ the apple o’his eye.

‘Course next they came Langston Goodwell, my Grandpap.  Famous far and wide, and near all ‘cross this beloved state clean to the Mississip’, well, he’s always been known as a hard worker, a straight shooter, a smooth talker, and faithful friend to all mankind, and ladies and children and animals, too.

He also per-fected his own daddy’s recipe for a real good ‘shine.

And this is where our story commences.


“Oh, Glory!”


“Don’t That Beat All!” (musin’s, confusin’s, refusin’s and elocusions of a country boy)

“This Little Light o’Mine”


This here’s Liam.  I reckon you all know by now I’m Liam Goodwell.  Of the Denton County Missouri, USA Goodwells.

And I s’pose by now I’m liable to be a’callin’ you all friends.  I reckon, too, you all know plenty ’bout me and mine and I shore hope I ain’t skeert none o’you away.  But seein’ as the good Lord give we Goodwells been a fine and high-mindedly good road in this world, with ad-ventures poppin’ up here and yonder, well, I figured somewhere on down the line, folks might jest find them an amusin’ and inter-estin’ dinner table talk-em’up.

And truth be told, I jest don’t want these here ol’ stories and memories and thoughts and colors and flashes and tweeks and what all to float away like them dandeline puffballs with tick tock time a’passin’.

Shore sounds pre-suptious o’ me, don’t it.

Why, I ain’t nothin’ if I ain’t humble.  B

But I digress.

Now, to anybody deignin’ to pay attention to my rattlin’s on, I don’t claim to have me no special powers, ‘ceptin’ maybe my mean fastball.  Miss Meadow, down to the school, she’ll tell me a’gin and a’gin how my thinkin’ paths and my word sortin’ is a sight to behold, ‘cept o’course, unless she got her special sight, she’d be a listenary, not a visionary.

Still, ’twas her give me these notebooks this summer, encouragin’ me to write what ever dusted itself ‘cross my thoughts.  I hope to heaven she’ll like what I writ here.

If I see fit to let her take a look.

Well, they’s lots of stories left untold, ‘enough to fill the holler out to the back forty, I reckon.  Tales still needin’ tyin’ up in a bow, as well.

Looks clear to my mind, I reckon Miss Meadow, she had herself one o’them ul-terior motives.  ‘Stead o’ a chore, this here tale tellin’, why, I feelin’ right shore down to my dirty toes in my hand-me-down holey boots this here exercise, it jest might itself be a callin’.

So them yarns needin’ spun?  Them endin’s needin’ writ?  Well, let’s jest say I ain’t plannin’ on puttin’ down this pencil any time soon.

And I got me ex-trees, besides.


So Miss Meadow, if you’re a readin’ this, if I get up enough gumption to ‘llow you to pee-reuse these pages, I hope I’m a doin’ you proud.


“This Little Light o’Mine?  I’m goin’ t’let it shine.  Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!”


Amen and amen and durned tootin’.