In a previous post, I touched upon the bootleg whiskey business. An anonymous commenter sent a link to a story over at Reason marking the demise of the great Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, a legendary practitioner of untaxed alcoholic distillation (note: the first link in the Reason piece is to an AP story pertaining to Sutton’s defiant death; that story is no longer available, but here’s a link to the full obituary, which appeared in the WSJ). A very interesting slice of Americana.
And here's a wiki article on a North Carolina bootlegger that Old Paco chased for years - a fellow with the highly improbable name of Percy Flowers. The feds never could get a conviction; Old Paco told me that Percy bought and sold juries with the ease of a used car dealer buying and selling dubious clunkers. My father said that the man was a genius - for example, he taught himself basic structural and electrical engineering from scratch and built a huge underground still - and could easily have made a fortune doing honest work, but just seemed drawn to the excitement of the "game" (I'm reminded of one of Wodehouse's robber-barons: "He preferred his millions tainted. His attitude toward an untainted million was that of a sportsman toward the sitting bird.")