Today, the subject on the Applewood Rocking Chair Porch was about all the palavering and confabulating about politics and people’s health. One fellow is in favor of one thing and this other one is against. Politics and one’s aches and pains seem to be all people are talking about these days. Doc Thomason spoke up and said, “Reminds me of a patient I had once.” That gave the Doctor center stage on the porch. Doc was retired and most of his patients had gone on to their just rewards. So, he didn’t see any reason he should not tell about their various medical histories. On this day, the doctor was talking about old man Dawson.
Dawson was one those dirt-poor farmers out around Weaverville, just up the road from Asheville. He kept a few chickens, a hog or two for eating the slops, and usually a cow. Other than corn, the crops he grew were for eating. For money, he had a makeshift moonshine still made from an abandoned cast iron bathtub and parts from an old car and a refrigerator. Of course, there were also lots of worn out bourbon barrels and jugs for storing and aging. The corn is what he used to make his moonshine
It struck me, and maybe a couple of other men on the porch, that Doc knew seemed to know an awful lot about Dawson’s moonshine still. Then again, the Doc never said he was a teetotaler. Anyway, back to the story. Doc said when Dawson came to see him, he was getting pretty old—but keeping in mind that corn liquor can age a man, he may have still been in his fifties. It seems Dawson was worried about his hearing. Here is the way Doc Thomason described his dealing with Mr. Dawson.
“When he came to see me he said, ‘Doc, it’s getting so I can hardly hear what anyone is saying anymore.’ Well, I looked him over good. I looked in his ears and I didn’t see anything mechanical that could be causing a hearing problem. I asked him if his hearing problem was continuous or did it come and go. Well, what do you think he said?”
The other men on the porch looked at each other and no one had any suggestions. Doc laughed. “Dawson said, ‘Can’t hear you. What did you say?’ We kind of chuckled at that because we should have known he would have said that. After we had a laugh, Doc continued his story. “I got right up in his ear and I asked him, you been drinking your own moonshine? Dawson answered me by explaining that he usually had at least one bottle a day, but not any more than that, leastwise not on weekdays. So, I yelled in his ear, If you stop drinking, I think your hearing will come back. That should fix your hearing problem.”
The doctor explained that Dawson seemed to be satisfied with his prescription. So, he told Dawson come back to see him in one month. The doctor seemed done with his story. He rocked back in his chair and took a long pull on the iced tea he had been holding. After a few minutes, all of us on the porch were getting restless. So, I spoke up. “Doc, what about it? Did he stop drinking? Did that fix his hearing problem? Did he come back to see you like you asked him to?”
“He sure did, and he was deaf as a stone. I had to cup my hands around his ear as I shouted—did you stop drinking that moonshine like I told you? Dawson looked all guilty-like as he explained, ‘Yes Sir, I did and for a week or so and got so I could hear real well, every single word and sound.’ Then shaking his head from side to side he said, ‘But Doc, it was a terrible thing! Sounded like everything was going to Hell in a handbasket—that’s when I decided I liked what I was drinking a whole lot better than what I was hearing!’”