Friday, October 21, 2011

The Return - and Near Death - of Blade and Seed

OK, the preamble:

I always thought and still do that Arlyn Morse was the most intelligent person in our class.  It still amazes me that, although he was salutatorian, he never got a scholarship.   It always bothered me more than him.  We all strived to succeed and I think I only made the top half of our class, but that was significant since a very high percentage of us continued to excel in educational endeavors.  Anyway, Blade and Seed did make use of some of the education we received, however it was amplified by research, mostly from Arlyn's extensive reading.  HS was a phase of life that needed to be amplified.  The adventurous and entrepreneurial aspects were enticing and started for us during this time. 

Blade and Seed Sagas:

I would like to think that we coined the phrase "Road Trip".  It started in HS and continues to this day.  Through the years, I have visited every state, except ND, and a lot of that was accomplished by road trips with Arlyn (Seed).  Initially, we used the "dangerous"  Corvair.  The only problem we had with the car was the spark plug wires kept falling off, so we had to stop every now and then to reattach them.  We graduated to Sebring convertibles and MGB's.  As I recall, we made 2 road trips from CA to IA for NKHS class reunions.  At the outset, we could encamp and decamp in 20 minutes with tents and cots.  This flexiblity  led to the ability to come and go quickly.  Now, we have more money and can be more comfortable.  Also, the next road trip may need to include the better halfs, so who knows whether or not the tradition will continue?

#1 - The Bootleggers convention.

Probably during prohibition, but certainly before my time, Kensett hosted an event called the bootleggers convention.  According to legend, there was a bootlegger on every downtown corner during the festivities.  In an effort to carry on the tradition, we (Seed & Blade) decided to create our own white lightning enterprise.  Knowledge was gained from books and chemistry class.  Equipment was procured and a still was set up in Grandma Arendts's old garage.  The garage was used as storage and was located next to the infamous cottonwood tree described in the out house story.  It was secure and out of the way, so discovery was unlikely.  At the time, my grandmother was elderly and seldom ventured out side her house.

The liqueur of choice was corn whiskey.  The effort took a few weeks due to the fermenting process.  Fuel was charcoal, since portable butane was not available at the time.  In retrospect, the operation was quite impressive and involved a lot of engineering.  When the still was activated, we took turns tending, paying particular attention to pressures.  The watches were relatively boring, so we studied or read girlie mags.  As time went on, it became apparent that our design was not working.  Seed came to relieve me from one of my watches and found me passed out on the floor.  He managed to revive me.  We speculate that the carbon monoxide build up in the garage had almost done me in.  I was sick for a few days, but we never told a soul about our experiment.  There was no 911 in those days.  Moonshining was illegal.  No harm no foul.  If we would have had access to the internet, I feel it would have succeeded.   Seed, I owe you one!!  Such is life.


1 comment:

  1. The class salutatorian READ girlie mags. Or did I take that verb too literally . . .

    Somewhere along the line I learned that you could make vodka from potatoes, yeast, sugar, and water. It was supposed to brew in an earthen container so we used the beautiful crock that still sits somewhere in my house. Once you stirred it up it was supposed to sit covered for about two weeks in a "cool" location.

    At the appointed time I was more than shocked when I pulled the cover and saw all the gunk growing on top of the mix, but I was undaunted because you could pull that stuff aside and siphon the "vodka" from the container. We'd let it sit for a few days afterwards because it was very cloudy, and sugar would settle to the bottom and we'd then siphon the good stuff off the top again.

    This was happening when I lived in LaPorte City, IA, my first job out of college. My friend the football coach refused to drink it because he was convinced it would make you go blind, which was probably true if you drank enough. But it was more like a potato wine than vodka because it was pretty sweet - and our chemistry teacher tested it out for us - at about 12% alcohol.

    Good stuff, but I don't recommend it based on the lack of aesthetics of the junk when you opened the crock, even though none of us ever passed out from the fumes like Blade did . . .


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