- [S104] Cocke County, Tennessee, and its People, Cocke County Heritage Book Committee, (Walsworth Publishing, 1992), 172, 324.
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 9 Nov 2008.
Respect for the dead
It was the kind of fall morning that made you feel like you would live forever in our hometown's mountains-or at least outlive the fall of leaves.
The views were stunning along the steep gravel road wandering through a blanket of orange and yellow leaves among a morning forest not far from Waterville. An invitation from Vaughn Moore, a retired pharmaceutical sales executive, brought me to Green Corner Road last Wednesday. After leaving I-40, I took the high route into the mountains, a path that was familiar from photo assignments decades ago. One because bear hunter Floyd Ray Ford asked me to come up to Hartford to make a photo of bear hunters. That was in the 1970s, as I recall, and local hunters had killed a large black bear weighing about 500 or more pounds. There is a long-abandoned home that was a happy stopping place years and years ago and where we chatted with Faye (Moore) Mathis. I passed that landmark and continued downhill stopping in front of Steve Lewis' home, which was the exact place the bear hunters' photo had been made. Vaughn was walking out to greet me and take me to the Moore cemetery.
The pleasant days of mid fall are perfect for cemetery upkeep and that was what a group of Moores, well known to you and me, were doing that cool morning. At the top of the hill beyond trees and brush and unseen from Green Corner Rd., the Moore cemetery exists and has for at least 50 years. A chainlink fence encloses the silent family of tombstones-the sun in their faces that Nov. 5 morning. Tunney Moore and Billy Wayne Moore were already at work when Vaughn arrived with a small Ford tractor. I greeted the former sheriffs Tunney and Billy Wayne. Moments later a larger old Ford truck rolled up driven by former Cocke County Executive Charles Lewis Moore. I haven't seen or talked to him in more than a year, as we talked about falling beef prices and potential of higher taxes ahead. I asked them to point out their parents' graves. Tunney showed me the John Lewis and Calloat (Leatherwood) Moore stone, his parents, and grandparents to Charles Lewis. John Lewis and Calloat's other children were Charlie, Ken, Ray, Faye, Maxine Carver, Clay, and Manny. The most recent grave is that of Billy Wayne's Mom, Vera, who rests beside husband, Clay Moore. Buried elsewhere are Vaughn's parents, John Lewis "Tooke" Moore Jr., who was married to Maxine Rollins Moore. Charles Lewis parents, both of whom were dear friends of mine, Charlie and Ellen Moore, are buried in Union Cemetery. The four Moores were busy that morning placing a gate in the fence at the rear of the graveyard because it is almost filled up front and this will allow access to the rear easier for future burials.
I've known Tunney Moore for 36 years, when I was covering the Newport Rescue Squad and he was active and a leader. But I never heard the story you are about to hear and as far as I know has never been told in the Plain Talk. Tunney motioned to the woods just up the hillside and began talking about the moonshine still and operation he and his brother, Ken Moore, conducted when they were young men, probably in their early 20s. It was a hard, hard time after World War II and not much paid work existed in 1948/49 for young men like Tunney. It was natural to make moonshine; it was their heritage. As Charles Lewis said, many people made a living whether selling sugar and ingredients, jars; hauling moonshine, selling gasoline and parts to haulers; or making moonshine. However, the federal government said it was illegal and often sent revenue agents to dynamite stills and arrest producers. And so it was that Tunney and Ken went to the still at dawn to prepare a run but were greeted by several revenue agents. They tried to grab the Moores but the young men ran. One agent did grab Tunney's rear pocket that tore, causing his wallet and cash to fall but Tunney escaped. He said they ran so hard and long he was spitting up blood. And they never were caught, which explains how Tunney eventually went on to become a Cocke Co. sheriff. Now, one of the Moore's did get caught. Eight-year-old nephew Charles Lewis was leading a plow mule along Green Corner Road to a tobacco field owned by Grandpa John Lewis. The tall skinny kid was quickly grabbed and handcuffed to a fence post, but that was of no concern to the mule. Somehow as words do wander through the mountains, Calloat heard and got in the buggy with John Lewis and headed to the crime scene. She was enraged on seeing her grandson Charles Lewis handcuffed like a common criminal. So, she grabbed a bridle and began beating the revenue agent about the head until she drew blood. John Lewis had to call her off. Charles Lewis recalls that a friendly agent came up later and uncuffed him, explaining the injured agent had to be taken to the hospital. The moonshine still above the cemetery got dynamited. Tunney said he took a short vacation to Detroit and returned to Hartford to find out the Army wanted to see him at the Knoxville induction office. He served a military hitch. Today, older and much wiser he made it clear "I never drank a drop of whiskey." Charles Lewis also observed that he would have gotten a severe beating if his father thought the boy had anything to do with whiskey or its manufacture and he never did.
I will return to Green Corner as promised with Roy D. Brown, who grew up in the area and now has a long novel pending publication called "Snowbird." We have completed most of the work except illustrations by Thelma Ogle, his daughter. The road is wider and easier because of improvements done in the late 1990s. Charles Lewis reminded me that he was county executive and convinced Governor Don Sundquist to improve the road at a cost of about $200,000 after the Gulf land became the Martha Sundquist State Forest. Don't you wonder how much moonshine was made in that forest the past 200 years?
In plain talk, the mountain pathways often lead us to stories and people long gone but whose traces remain in the landscape.
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 17 May 2013.
Just Plain Talk: Rain gives way to warmer May days for grilling
Former sheriff turns 82
Former Cocke County Sheriff Tunney Moore called me to come see a most unusual creation in his front yard in April. When he told me it was a pistol barbecue over the phone, I had a difficult time picturing what this might be. As my photos show, it is a large grill and smoker weighing hundreds of pounds but easily towed on a trailer. Yes, it is modeled after a .38 Special handgun. And here's the story behind the metal craft. His daughter, Mitzi Satterfield, wanted to give Dad a birthday present and knew he liked to grill. She also knew a welder, formerly from Mexico, and he lives where she used to be a missionary with her late husband, James Munsey at McAllen, Texas. The model for the welded piece was provided by Tunney, who is a talented flame glassblower. He gained these skills when working decades ago at American Enka. Tunney created a glass model of a .38 caliber handgun so the welder could work off this model. Tunney received his late birthday present last fall and is proud to say he can grill two hams at the same time. The smoke leaves through the barrel. It also features a bread warmer under the hammer. I asked Tunney why a gun grill so big and he said, "To go after Ossama Bid Laden but the Navy Seals beat me." The dog is his old friend Sassy, who appreciates barbecued beef, or pork, or chicken. On Sunday, May 19, Tunney turned 82 and might have a blast with his gift.