The Richmond Register


January 3, 2014

Just little dab of Granny Fighting Cider would do

RICHMOND — I worked one winter in the late 1960s with an old fellow named John Bowers as part-time caretaker of Camp Shawnee on Dewey Lake in Floyd County.

John lived in a cabin at the camp through the week, but he went home to Pike County on weekends. I covered for him while he was away. Which meant I mostly sat around and did nothing more strenuous than tend to John’s “Granny Fighting Cider” on Friday and Saturday nights when the weather got real cold this time of year.

He had a cider press and an apple orchard at home. He stored the cider in gallon soda concentrate jugs that he had accumulated from restaurants and drug stores that sold fountain sodas. Somehow he canned it at home so the jugs would seal and the cider wouldn’t spoil before he was ready to use it.

I can’t remember exactly how he did it, just that the process involved putting yeast into the jugs and letting them sit opened in a warm room with a vapor lock plugged into the neck for a few days to ferment and that the cabin smelled like a late fall orchard where the ground was littered with rotten apples. It was not terribly unpleasant, but not appetizing either. Anyway, you could smell the cabin for a quarter mile before you got to it.

John would pour the fermented stuff into a half-gallon tub, set it outside on cold nights and let it freeze over, break the ice and skim it off the next day, strain the remains through cheese cloth into a milk churn, and what was left was a potent alcoholic beverage he called Granny Fighting Cider. I’m oversimplifying here because it would take several pages to accurately describe the entire process.

He had a ready market for the stuff because most of eastern Kentucky was “dry” at that time, and it was over 60 crooked miles from John’s place to the nearest liquor store. I figure I can get away with telling this because the statutes of limitation have expired and both John and his wife have been dead for over 30 years. I don’ believe they had any children. At least he never spoke of them.

He used to say he couldn’t give a gallon of cider away until he “doctored” it. Then he could sell it for $25 a gallon or $10 a quart.

I used a tin cup and a funnel to dip the doctored cider from the churns back into the gallon jugs and Mason jars. Then I corked the jugs and lidded the jars and labeled them with a red felt pen, Granny Fighting Cider. You had to wait until the containers were sealed and dry to label them because if any of the brew got on the label it would melt right off. John said, “don’t ever spill any on the floor cause it’ll take the varnish off.”

I’d go back to the dorm and sneak into the laundry room and then the shower because if anybody smelled me or my clothes, they thought I’d been cleaning out hog pens. But when I pulled a quart of John’s Granny Fighting cider out from under my bunk, and passed it around, the teasing stopped.

I’m not sure how strong, proof-wise, the stuff actually was, but it was a lot like the then-popular hair dressing, Bryle Crème. A little dab would do you, especially if you wanted to remain standing for any length of time.

Text Only
  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Compromise is not that simple

    It’s tempting for a casual onlooker to wonder why the Democratic House and Republican Senate can’t make what on the surface looks like the obvious compromise on pension reform.
    The Senate passed a measure based on recommendations of a task force to move new employees into a hybrid, cash-balance plan but maintain existing defined benefits for current employees and retirees.

    March 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG Frankfort plays ping-pong with public pension transparency

    Legislation that would make the Kentucky Retirement Systems transparent for those paying its bills has danced into the spotlight during the 2014 session of the Kentucky General Assembly.
    Passage of transparency bills filed by Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Latonia, and Rep. Robert Benvenuti, R-Lexington, would make the “names, status, projected or actual benefit payments” subject to our commonwealth’s superlative Open Records Act.

    March 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jack Strauss-BW.jpg The case of the ghostly neighbor

    Wilbur lived in a world of fears. Everything frightened him. The full extent of his courage was to admit that he had none.
    Noises in the middle of the night, his own shadow creeping up on him and, most of all, black cats scared the wits out of him.
    So, picture his chagrin, one day, when he came home from vacation only to discover that a mausoleum had been erected on property adjacent to his home.

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Provisional concealed-carry law passes Senate unanimously

    Things are staying busy in Frankfort. Many bills are making their way onto the Senate floor from various committees. This past week several important pieces of legislation were debated and passed.
    I am particularly proud of the success we had in advocating for Kentuckians’ Second Amendment rights.
    I introduced Senate Bill 106 to allow anyone who has been granted an emergency protective or domestic violence order to receive a provisional CCDW permit from the Kentucky State Police in one business day. In some of these cases, victims need this type of protection as quickly as possible.

    March 8, 2014

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg 50 years makes a world of difference

    I wasn’t in Frankfort on March 5, 1964, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy, and Jackie Robinson led 10,000 on a march to the state Capitol in support of a public accommodations law.
    But a few months later, I stood in front of the “Music Hall,” site of the Glasgow Junior High School located on a street named Liberty, and watched black kids “walk up the hill” of College Street on the first day of integrated schools in Glasgow.

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • 02.23 Mike Duncan mug.jpg Coal has kept Kentuckians warm this winter

    This winter, temperatures across the country dipped to historic lows. Here in our home state of Kentucky, the near-arctic climate caused increased power demand which resulted in an incredible strain on the electric grid and rising energy costs.

    March 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG Protecting citizens’ data is a no-brainer

    Target Corp. is learning the hard way: The price is steep for retailers who don’t protect customers’ sensitive financial information.
    Target’s profits fell a whopping 50 percent during its fourth quarter of 2013 as the result of a massive security breach involving as many as 110 million of its customers’ credit- and debit-card accounts, which began the day before Thanksgiving and extended throughout much of the holiday shopping season.

    March 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Making plans for spring planting

    My brother Keith (Keeter) probably planted peas on one of those warm days last week, and I would not be at all surprised to find out that brother Steve did likewise to try to be the first two fellows in Letcher County to actually be digging the soil in their 2014 gardens.
    Keeter’s father-in-law, the late Dock Mitchell, used to get my brother to drive him a 50-mile round trip to get pea seeds and potting soil for early February planting. Dock raised mammoth melting sugar snow peas and sugar snaps around every fence on the place. 

    February 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Cynicism, optimism both on display in Frankfort

    Those who spend little time in Kentucky’s Capitol and who read columns by cynics who cover it should be forgiven their disillusionment about how the people’s business is conducted.

    February 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Even Scrooge would enjoy library mystery

    Saturday afternoons and evenings are usually down time for Loretta and me.
    We simply don’t get out much after we’ve used up the movie gift certificates the kids gave us for Christmas. That means we mostly go to the movies to avoid guilt trips because our kids do work hard for their money.

    February 20, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

Should the Richmond City Commission stop rezoning property to allow construction of apartments?

     View Results