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Moonshine over Dargan

April 27, 2008|By LLOYD "PETE" WATERS

On a recent trip to Hopewell Road, I stopped by Jim Haddock's top soil barn and had him place a nice scoop of black dirt on my old 1981 Ford pickup.

As we stood there chatting for a few minutes he told me how he enjoyed reading my articles in the paper. I was flattered, as he continued, "Do you think you could write an article on Dargan, Moonshine, Frog Hollow and fishing?" I have a lot of fond memories about fishing near Dargan, he said.

"I'm not sure I'm up to the task, but I'll see what I can do," I answered.

You see, Dargan is a very mystical place. Often when I meet new people and I tell them I'm from Dargan, they look at me in a strange way.

"Everyone fights down there, don't they?" is often the first question asked. "Only when it's necessary." I usually reply. "I believe our government would benefit from that same approach."

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Dargan folks did used to have a little problem with outsiders, but when you look at the immigration issue these days, who doesn't? To me it's still a beautiful place and it will always be home.

Many years ago, some of the Dargan residents used to travel to Hagerstown to work at the old Victor Products plant. Not sure what they did there, but they didn't make very much money. The Depression, too, caused some hard years for Dargan and the rest of the country.

To supplement their wages, it seems that some of these families (actually more than one) had a pretty good recipe for homemade whiskey.

From the Dargan main street to the back road of Snufftown you could smell the odor of the cooking mash in the nearby woods.

A lot of other people outside Dargan must have equally enjoyed this recipe as well, for there was a great demand from Ma Tuckers in Antietam to all points west.

Good moonshine looks relatively harmless when it is served in a Mason jar. But one sip from this jar will send tingles from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet and make your toes curl in directions never before thought possible. At least that's what I'm told.

I don't think necessarily that moonshine is good for your health, but then again I know some of the old people who took it for colds, poison ivy, allergies, dog bites and broken bones.

Once the brew was made, how did you get it out of Dargan? There used to be an old road that separated Dargan and Antietam and went right through the middle of a large town of frogs. Since these frogs obviously lived in a hollow, the name given to this location was Frog Hollow.

The revenue men always tried to keep a close eye on Frog Hollow and other activities in Dargan.

I remember one day when some of those G-men chased my grandfather Reno through the briars and stickers to our home, and he and I stayed in the dark, cold, earthen basement with the spiders and snakes for about six hours to avoid detection. I was only 6 or 7 at the time and don't remember much more, so don't be asking any questions.

I believe one of these revenue men was named Cushwa, because there was a song the whiskey makers use to sing in the woods, according to a few of the locals. It went something like this:

"When Cushwa was elected

Whiskey was neglected

In them old cool Frog Hollow Hills.

And when there be bright lights on Broadway

And sunshine down in Dixie

There be moonshine in them old Frog Hollow hills".

Perhaps I've said enough on Moonshine and Frog Hollow. If you want to continue this discussion, look me up. All names will remain strictly confidential. Yo, Mike, that includes you too.

Now for fishing. When you grow up near a river and a creek, what can you say about fishing? It was better than great. People would come from miles away to fish near Dargan.

You could catch catfish, sunnies, bass, eels, and maybe a cold if you didn't catch anything else. Fishing was sometimes just an excuse to see Dargan's beauty.

When outsiders came to fish, and the locals didn't like you, there might be some mischievous Dargan kid who would let the air out of your tires.

Although Old Catfish Rock is not quite the same and the moonshine smoke no longer dots the hills as it use to, the road through Frog Hollow is pretty much as it was, except there is a new generation of frogs.

Since the county has a surplus of tar and chip, and no obvious money for macadam in South County, I guess the potholes along Frog Hollow will continue to fill with water and make the frogs feel very much at home.

Sometimes I wish the revenue men would have kept a closer eye on our tax dollars. Our roads today might have been more presentable to the visiting tourists.

By the way, If you are thinking about vacationing in Dargan this year because you don't have very much money to spend on gas, I suspect that passports might soon be required.

Also, don't believe all those bad things you hear about Dargan. Nice people are always welcomed here, and that's why Mr. Haddock never had any problems. Just like the Motel Six, we'll leave the porch light on for you - you wouldn't want to go to Dargan in the dark anyway ... just kidding!

Lloyd "Pete" Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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