Through the


In this extract from her book, Susan Lipper documents a conversation between Mother and her brother Bob who have lived in Grapevine all their lives.

MOTHER You wouldn’t believe we could start back t’our childhood. You could write two. three books on it. I don’t like to talk about it too much . . .

808 People doesn’t really know what our lives were like. They really don’t. I remember Daddy making home brew and all and bootleggin’ it and now pay attention to this. I mean closely. ’Cause I’m not lying to you about it.


BOB And we got on starvation. It was one potato in the house. And my dad looked at my mom and said. ‘Babe, go get me the hatchet,’ a small hand hatchet, and he said, ‘I just happened to think of something,’ and he walked back at the old beaverboard on the wall...he’d been dropping silver dollars in that hole and forgot it. He cut the bottom of that out. And they rolled out on the floor and there was one hundred and eighty-some silver dollars. And awfulist loads of groceries you ever seen, they brung to the house and all.

Mommy had a big barrel of home brew behind the heatin’ stove where‘s it’s cold at winter, you got to keep it warm in order to work it off and somebody called the revenuers and here they come, and Mommy grabbed that barrel of home brew and just dumped it right out on the floor andjumped in it with a mop and went to mopping.

MOTHER And I remember they come in our door one day, and Daddy had a gallon of liquor sittin’ there in a hole in the floor ’cause that was what he was makin’ our living with and Mommy when she seen the state police coming in the gate she stuck that and set it down in the SlOp bucket and poured SIOp on it and started like she was going to feed the hogs . . .

808 And you know something? That day she turned the barrel of home brew over, she jumped right in the middle of it with a mop, the revenuers come to the door and said, ‘You might as well forget it,’ says, ‘this woman’s sterilizing her floor with this.’ (laughter) I seen ’em go down the road with a gallon of moonshine and the revenuers pulled us over and Mommy took the gallon of moonshine and pulled her dress up and stuck it right up her dress between her legs and just set in the seat. They lookin’ under the seats and everything. Mommy had it right up her dress.

© 1994 Susan Lipper

Extract taken from Grapevine by Susan Lipper, published by C ornerhouse at £40. Grapevine is at Portfolio Gallery, Edinburgh 8 April l3 MCIY.

The List 7-20 Apr 199517