In the fifties, New Haven was like every other small community in the country on Sundays. Everything was closed, except churches. And there was one more exception in New Haven. Cars would be lined up on the street behind ours at Scorchie Greenwell’s front door. Scorchie ran a booming business retailing bootleg whisky out of his home.
As you might guess, there were others in on the enterprise. For you see, even bootleggers have to have bottles for their stock. And that’s where I came in. Scorchie would pay a penny apiece for all the half pint bottles you could get for him. And Sundays were the best days to collect them because the alley behind Main Street was littered with the castaway bottles from a Saturday night of rollicking fun. And in the days before Daddy started giving us a weekly allowance, these bottles were my main source of income.
I don’t know where Scorchie got his stock for bootlegging but Daddy might have known. Daddy
and his half brother ran a blacksmith shop before he later got a job with the government. Horses had pretty much been replaced by cars by this time and business was slow. So Daddy made night calls occasionally when a local moonshiner’s still needed repair.
Scorchie’s son was a constant source of jealousy to me. Lee was a squirt of a kid, always
wearing blue jean coverall pants just like his daddy, with horn rimmed glasses and black hair
slicked over, just like his daddy. What he lacked in size, Lee made up in arrogance. Lee owned
the only Red Ryder pump B-B gun in town. But the thing that really got under my skin is that Lee always had a coke in one hand and a Hershey bar in the other. Where did he get the money? Cokes cost 5 cents and so did candy bars! That was ten bottles right there. Lee never scrounged around for old whisky bottles.
But then, he had a Daddy who sold a lot of the stuff that came in them.