• A visit to Union 2013. If you grew up in Union, West Virginia and you have not been able to return to Monroe County recently, chances are you will enjoy a little tour of Union and the area.

    View a Picture Tour of Union & Monroe County.


“The Adventures of Two Young UHS Business Men” by Dave Sizemore

It seems the older one becomes, the more important the adventures of our youth become.

It has been said, “Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction” or is it the other way around? You be the judge!

When Billy Porterfield and I were in the 10th grade and very active in Vocational Agriculture under the direction of Mr. Clayborne Campbell, one of my enterprises that year was 4 acres of corn. The seed corn was WV-B25 if I remember and I bought this seed corn from Albert Fullen, Gene Fullen’s dad. He grew this seed corn down below Union just before you get to the covered bridge. This was way before the State of West Virginia let the deer populations get out of control and a farmer could grow corn about anywhere.

Billy and I along with Wayne Ellis, Dale Hinkle and others were also very active in the School Shop. We could be found often at the forge in the Union High School Vo-Ag Shop practicing our Blacksmithing skills. This had nothing to do with giving us an opportunity to sneak us a chew of Red Man tobacco and spit in the fire while Mr. Campbell was not watching, but a genuine love for Blacksmithing. We had such a love for Blacksmithing we even set up an out door shop at home, next to my grandmothers house. The anvil we used, which I still own, formerly belonged to Mr. Hill, who sold it to me before moving to Florida.

Along about this time there was the beginning of a new enterprise for Billy and me. We learned that some of our Union High School upperclassmen were into a little drink of alcohol spirits so we began our new business endeavor to help these folks out and fill their needs. We gathered up a couple of bushel of the fine WV-B25 corn, shelled it with a hand sheller, and took it down to the Creek to Mr. Orb Reed’s mill where it would be ground into corn meal. He questioned us as to what we were doing with this amount of corn meal and we told him we were going to package it and give it to the needy for Christmas. We brought the corn meal home, found us an old bath tub which we put in the near by garage, filled it with water, corn meal, some yeast and sugar I stole from my grandmother. A few weeks after setting the mash, (a term we learned from and old timer and coach who must remain anonymous) we noticed a very foul odor. My grandmother noticed this smell as well and when she inquired of us about this odor we explained it was her septic tank which back in those days often was not totally underground.

Again with advice and guidance from our ghost partner we constructed a still which we cleverly disguised in our forge, so as we were doing our Blacksmithing work, we also could boil down the mash which had worked off so nicely in the bath tub, in the garage. We only made one run, until my grandmother got suspicious and we had to shut our still down forever.

Now as Paul Harvey would say, “For the rest of the story”. We put our spirits in Mason jars that again I stole from my Grandmother and hid most of it in a briar thicket near the garage. We loaded up a few pints in the old “Blue Balm” (Some of you may remember the 1949 Chevy pickup I drove to school.) and headed to school. The rumors were true about some of our upper classmen. They gladly bought it for $2.00 a pint. Our old ghost friend told us later this must have been some very rotten stuff, because we did not double it back. (Moonshiners talk for boiling it down twice) I hope this product did not contribute to any of the upper classmen’s alcoholisms.

Billy and I went on to find other careers than moon shining after graduation, but I have been blessed with a wonderful career which continues today in the metal working industry. I often fondly think of those days at the forge making pokers, hay hooks etc. in the Vo-Ag shop at Union High School.

Oh well, as our coach told us, our product was made to sell, not to drink!

As far as I can remember,  this was our first and last business venture.

David Sizemore
Class of 1961