The Social Status of Bootleggers

On my dad’s side of the family, I have a clearly defined heritage: my great-great-grandfather was an Irish salmon poacher who immigrated to the States to avoid arrest. We went on a family trip to Ireland once and found church records tracing several centuries of family history.

On my mom’s side, the family tree fades into murky obscurity if you try to trace it back more than a couple of generations. Every now and then, though, Mom will decide that my sister and I need to get in touch with our roots and she will dredge up a scrap of family history for us. This requires going to Nanna to check her facts.

“What about Uncle D.C.?” Mom asked once. “Wasn’t he a moonshiner?”

“No!” said Nanna indignantly, looking quite appalled at the prospect of being related to such a low-class person. “He was a bootlegger.”

This is how I learned that bootleggers are considered more respectable than moonshiners. Who knew?

Given the nature of Uncle D.C.’s profession, he had naturally formed a strong attachment to his truck. During a trip to the Melbourne cemetery, we were able to see proof of his affection. It seems that before he died, D.C.  requested to be buried next to his truck rather than his wife. His wife, evidently feeling that she had enjoyed enough of his company in this life and had no need of him in the next, agreed to this arrangement and it stands today. D.C.’s rusting truck is parked on the edge of the cemetery with his tombstone close beside, far removed from the neatly laid out graves of his relatives.


That’s not actually D.C.’s tombstone in the front corner; his is off to the side of the truck.



To my paternal relatives: yes, I know it was the brother who was the salmon poacher, but ‘great-great-grandfather’ seemed simpler than ‘great-great-great-uncle.’


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