Malcolm and Edgar Lafayette Roberts, intermittent schoolboys, full-
time farm and logging hands, decided to make their own still in 1918.
They had a spot by a little spring down toward Langston Branch. They
had an old sugar-boiling kettle. They had a wooden barrel top for a lid.
They had a big water bucket Brother John had found up at Great-
Granddaddy Smith's place. They had a stash of baling wire. They
bought a broken-off copper coil from one of the Spears boys. He
charged them 2 cents and wouldn't say where he got it. One Sunday
afternoon when Mama had gone over to Sister Harriet's to see the new
baby, they took a little sugar and a little yeast and a little malt and lit-
tle meal from the kitchen.
They'd seen plenty of stills. The country from Vause Branch to
Morrison Hammock, from Smith Creek to Sopchoppy, from Red
Lake to Whitehead Lake, was full of them. They'd heard all the stories
put about to scare people away. There were ghosts: the ghosts of dead
Indians, of dead Spaniards, dead Civil War soldiers, dead babies. There
were monsters: the giant gator (forty foot long if he's an ince and ter-
rible as Beelzebub) that lived in Hitchcock Lake; the hoodoo doctor
with his necklace of black cat bones and witch spells scratched in the
sand; and the bears - Edgar Lafayette (known to his brothers and sis-
ters as "Lee" and grandchildren as Papa) had seen with his own eyes