By spring, our money was all gone. Our President, Herbert Hoover kept telling us, “Prosperity is just around the corner.” But he didn’t say around which corner. Soup lines were established in most every big town in the United States. Crime, was on the up swing. Al Capone was running Chicago. Speak easies were springing up everywhere. Every day, jobs were getting harder to find. Service stations were going broke by the thousand. Even at twenty cents a gallon, it seemed too high. Lots of people that were working, were making less than ten cents an hour. I knew that I must do something. I started looking around.
We took a trip back to Emmett Valley. I knew that I must find something to do. I was much better aquatinted over here. Maybe I could find something. There was an old couple that lived down below the enterprise ditch. Their name was Feaster. The Misses had just died and he was going to California. I rented the house, farm and all, eighty acres for the sum of ten dollars a month. I paid him a year in advance. We went back to Caldwell, locked up the service station and moved over. As I look back and recall that winter in Caldwell, I remember one great thing that happened. We had gained a beautiful daughter.
Before we were married, Helen had lost the fingers of her right hand while working in a plywood factory. The insurance company had made a settlement. She would receive twenty dollars a month for the next twenty years. That is in Canadian dollars. We sure made good use of that money. I don’t know what we would of done without it. Even if that twenty was only worth thirteen in U.S. money.
I did all kinds of odd jobs. Anything to make a buck. I was still a fast box maker. But disaster had struck this trade. No longer did the growers ship their fruit in boxes. Those thin bushel and half bushel baskets made of redwood took their place. No one would buy furs. Trapping come to a standstill. I knew that I must do something. There was another baby on the way and I wouldn’t see them starve.
In those days, home brew was a favorite for those that liked to drink. There was the malt, the sugar and the yeast for sale in most every store. There was more beer drank in those days per. capita, than now. At least that is what the statistics say. Dad always had a batch brewing in the cellar. I guess he made a pretty fair brew and moonshine whiskey. There were bootleggers at every dance. Dad always liked to keep a gallon or so around. “Just in case of snake bite.” he would say.
One of our neighbors, his name was Emmett Parks, made a lot of the stuff. One day when I was up to the ranch, Dad bought a gallon from him and hid it in the big grape vine just back of the house. Mother wouldn’t allow him to keep it in the home. Ray who was always snooping around, witnessed the transaction. (Later Ray bragged about it.) He had run in the house and got Mother. He had lifted out the jug and showed it to her. Then he had poured most of it out and filled it up with water out of the irrigation ditch. Naturally, Mother approved. Ray was now her fair haired boy. Always taking her to church, defending her against all evil, even his own father. He must have read somewhere, divide and conquer. He had got rid of me, Dad was next on his list.
Feldman, Dad’s partner, also liked a little nip at the end of the day. At harvest time, when he was there, he always kept a bottle around. Then one day, Feldman come up with a new Son in Law. His name was Frank, Buddy Frank. As a dowry, the old Jew had sold him the loan office or pawn shop at a very low price and he had just taken over. I liked Buddy and we become friends. He liked to fish and hunt. Many times we went together. One day Buddy told me. “Ted, I got a problem.” “Anything I can do to help?” “I don’t know. But answer me this. Do you know how to make whiskey?” I shook my head. “Why do you ask?” He grinned. “As you probably know, us Jews stick together. We help each other whenever we can.” “So?” “There was one in Boise that for years supplied all the others with a good brand of whiskey. Sometimes it was moonshine and sometimes it was imported from Canada. This old boy died awhile back. Now, they are looking for another.” “And you could get the job if you could supply the stuff?” “Yes. But it would have to be good.” “How much of it are we talking about?” He pulled a notebook from his pocket. “Last year,” he said, “they bought over five hundred gallons. Got it form a guy over in Jordan Valley Oregon.” “And how much,” I asked him, “did they pay for it?” He looked down at the book in his hand. “The guy that made it,” he said, “got six bucks a gallon. and it was all in ten gallon, charred, white oak kegs. And it was ninety proof.” “Holy smoke! That is three thousand bucks!” “Any ideas?” he asked. I grinned at him. “Let me think about it. I will let you know.”