Correspondence

Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, R.I.P.

When Popcorn Sutton died in mid-March at the age of 62, the national press ran obituaries.  Though he was just an old moonshiner who’d plied his trade for half a century and done nothing else of consequence, a whole bunch of folks in Tennessee and North Carolina grieved more than they would have over the death of a military hero, movie star, or ex-president.  A few lamented the disappearance of the best 180-proof whiskey available on planet Earth.  More mourned the loss of a dogged warrior who’d fought the enemy’s merciless legions, held them at bay for nearly a lifetime, and finally yielded to overwhelming numbers and resources.

You can see photographs of Popcorn on the world-wide web, a scrawny old man wearing overalls, a faded flannel shirt, and the wreck of a brown hat—the splay of his red-gray beard covering his chest, sad eyes seared by the gaze of the Beast.  One snapshot shows him standing by his Model A Ford, with mom corn and pop corn painted on the front bumper.  Another with Willie Nelson’s arm around him.  A third with him holding a copy of Me and My Likker, his autobiography.

You can even go to YouTube and see a snippet of The Last One, a film about Sutton, made by Neal Hutcheson, whose North Carolina company, Sucker Punch Pictures, features Appalachian stories and themes.  The Last One is a step-by-step workshop on how to make a still and...

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