Cec was one of the men in the fifties that was plagued with stomach ulcers, which seemed to be fairly common in those days or at least much more than now. His diet consisted of raw eggs, raw oysters, milk and crackers and certainly no alcohol. Even with his best attempt at the home remedy cure, the situation worsened until finally in the middle of the night he had to be rushed to the hospital and emergency surgery to remove a portion of his stomach. It was the cure he had needed for a long time.
Thankfully he was back on his feet within a few weeks and back to Dr. Raleigh Ross’ office for a follow up. Dr. Ross suggested that he should drink a couple of beers each day to stimulate his liver. Man! Did he take that to heart. We as teenagers had never seen our father take a drink. That was the strangest feeling seeing that for the first time. He certainly kept his liver and kidneys stimulated from that point forward.
Some time later he decided to try his hand at making his own beer. We had moved back to Smithwick at that time. The old house that our grandparents lived in was vacant and the perfect spot for a brewing operation. With the use of a huge stone pot that had been left there by future generations, he was in business. I’m sorry, but his recipe was awful. However, as bad as it was, we as teenage boys would sneak down on occasion and sample it. One glass and we would have a heck of a time getting back to the house.
The Pure Stone Company (currently the Huber Corporation) was a local company that crushed rock into a product that was used for everything from adding to cattle feed, to using in the making of paint to making glass, etc. The Schlitz brewing company at that time actually owned their own bottle making company and used railcar loads of the Pure Stone product to make their beer bottles.
Cec owned the trucking company that transported the rock from the quarry to the plant and was around everyday. Upon meeting the Schlitz salesman one day, he told him about his fabulous home brew recipe. The salesman out of pure courtesy I’m sure, told him he would bring him a couple of cases of empty bottles and a small hand capping machine. He would like to try out his recipe. This was music to his ears. A couple of weeks later the bottles arrived and the bottling operation swung into business.
The next day Cec was scheduled to deliver his product. It was a hot summer day. I remember loading the two cases into the back of his pickup. We headed to town with the prize winning brew. I’m not sure if it was the heat of the day, the strength of brew vibrating around in the back of the pickup or what, but half way to town we heard the first explosion. Looking back we could see one bottle cap missing and beer spewing everywhere. Shortly down the road another and another. It didn’t let up as we went thru town. We finally arrived at Pure Stone with only four bottles still in tact. Not effected in the slightest, he proudly handed over his bounty. I never really ever heard how the Schlitz salesman liked his beer, but let’s just say, Cec didn’t retire as a master brewer.