by Jim Dees – Greg Iles is our “headliner” on Thacker this week but our “other” author is a powerhouse as well. Troylyn Bell and her husband, Charlie, an engineer and real estate investor, had spent their entire lives in Texas. Following a near fatal trip to the emergency room with one of their two wheelchair-bound sons, they admitted the dust and heat were too dangerous for their boys’ respiratory condition. The Bells cashed out their extensive holdings, sold their beloved farm, and moved to Asheville, North Carolina. The ensuing adventure is chronicled in Troy’s book (with Bret Witter) Pure Heart- A Spirited Tale of Grace, Grit and Whiskey (Dey St. Books).
When the housing industry crashed in 2008, Charlie had poured their life savings and more into their various Carolina ventures (“We’re so underwater, a submarine couldn’t find us.”) That’s when Troy decided a side business she had been quieting nurturing – making legal moonshine – went on the literal front burner.
She enlisted the locals, who were impressed with her efforts on behalf of her afflicted boys – to teach her the ancient art. Real-life characters like Forrest Jarret, “the only man in Madison County with a front porch on his outhouse;” Popcorn Sutton, who shot himself rather than serve one year in prison for 700 gallons; Zeno Pounder, who worked moonshine until marijuana came along; and Oscar Wong, an Asheville brewer who backed Troy’s launch into legal moonshine distilling.
The sub-title is accurate, this is a “spirited tale of grace, grit and whiskey.”
So what happens? Will Troy successfully become the first female legal moonshiner in the south? Will she get the Disney “Moonshine Margarita” account with her Troy and Sons brand and save her family? Will she make enough to open a center for autistic children? And of course, maybe the most vital question of all: will there be a tasting?
Find out Thursday!
The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour, Thursday, March 23 at 6 pm at Off Square Books (129 Courthouse Square, Oxford, MS 38655) FREE admission. Guests: Bestselling mystery author Greg Iles, author/distiller Troy Ball, Clear Creek Baptist Church Gospel Band and award-winning pianist, Daniel Souvigny. Hosts: Jim Dees and house band, the Yalobushwhackers
Radio: WUMS 92.1 FM