The Hidden Drink

I dashed across the wooden living room floor and ducked behind an old cloth chair. I found myself hiding behind the curtains. The sound of bare feet running across the dusty hot wood floor grew louder as my brother scurried around looking for me in our daily game of hide-and-seek. It was 1925 and we lived in the small farming town of Mapleton, MN. My brother and I spent our days running around and working on our grandparents’ farm. Our house was 2 miles outside of the quiet town. Most of the houses being farms, were very spread out and we didn’t have any neighbors close by.

As I ran past the main window in the living room, I noticed dust being thrown up from our long dirt road. This was very odd. No one lived past us and no one came down this way. Immediately, I called for my grandma.

“Grandma, someone is coming down the driveway. Did you know someone was coming today?” I yelled to her in the kitchen. She stormed into the room, frantically throwing her dish towel on the ground.

“Boys, you need to come with me right now,” she nervously demanded. We followed her into the kitchen where she pulled up the floorboard, opening a dark room below. She gave us a small nudge, signaling for us to go in. Neither my brother nor I knew about this hidden room. She called down for us to give her a hand, and we helped her step onto the stool below the opening. She lit one of the candles and it illuminated the small room. The walls were lined with large barrels and small silver buckets. We tried to ask why we were hiding, but she just “shhh’d” us and we kept quiet. I could hear the sounds of a man banging on the front door from above for about five minutes, but after that it went quiet. We waited down there for what felt like hours, making sure it was safe to go upstairs. My grandma didn’t speak of that event much again except to tell us not to ever go down to that room again or tell anyone it existed.

I never really thought of that day again, until 1933 when I was back visiting my grandparents. Some of the barrels and buckets were up in the kitchen and they were filled with gin. After putting it together, I realized that my grandparents had been bootleggers during the prohibition time. They had been making alcohol behind the backs of the town and selling it. I realized that the car driving up that day had probably been the police and the reason we were hiding was because they knew my grandparents were making alcohol. I guess they were just lucky they didn’t get caught.