Although he passed away from a heart attack before my second birthday, I can not remember a time when I did not know about the man my mother called Dad.
Born in a time when horse and carriages outnumbered automobiles on the road, he lived to see the Apollo Missions. He was born to a good-sized middle class family. He had two sisters, one elder and one younger, both of whom were very involved in my life while growing up.
Growing up in the Roaring Twenties, he was in high school when the crash came and the Great Depression hit. According to family stories, my great-grandfather had passed on early in his life. When the hard times came he did what he could to help keep food on the table. Up to and including- ahem- extra legal means.
Most people remember Prohibition as part of the Roaring Twenties that ended with the Crash of '29, but it wasn't until 1933 that the 18th Amendment was actually repealed. Bathtub gin, moonshine and other hard liquors were commodities that people wanted for the cachet at first, and then, the comfort found in alcohol during hard times during those first years of the Great Depression.
More than one illicit still was kept busy and profitable during this time, and according to the stories, my grandfather was part of the trade as a bootlegger. He (allegedly) smuggled sugar over state lines to avoid the various taxes assessed against cane sugar by the revenuers. Being a suspicious sort, I would not be surprised if there was also some deliveries made of the final product and cigarettes as well.
Fortunately, he either never got caught or his best customers were among the local law enforcement; because he graduated High School, went into the Merchant Marine and from there the US Navy.