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The Prater's Creek Gazette

5th Issue Spring 2005 Page #4

Irving O. Tarbox Editor

Hunter S. Thompson TributeIrving O. Tarbox

Back in 1971, when I was a young and impressionable journalism student home for the summer, the late Hunter S. Thompson was on assignment in Prater’s Creek, of all places, to write a piece for sports magazine Gone Fishin’. In honor of Thompson we are running that article. It is also in memory of Steve who ran The Newsstand in Clemson, SC where I bought every Hunter S. Thompson book I have ever read among other great writers I discovered in this bookstore. It’s where I also buy each month’s issue of Bluegrass Unlimited.

Fear And Loathing In Prater's Creek

We were somewhere around the Six Mile Café, on the edge of Prater’s Creek, when Grandpa’s elixir began to take hold. I remember saying something like "Whooooeeee! I’m beginning to feel a bit lightheaded!; maybe you should drive". My attorney had taken his shirt off and was pouring the contents of the jug on his chest for tanning purposes.

A big fishing magazine had sent us to this backward little South Carolina town to do a story on the big carp-fishing tournament going on that weekend. The magazine had given me $300 dollars for expenses, and a Plymouth Road Runner to drive. The Roadrunner was a ’69 with a six-pack carburetor, and a Hurst Speed Shifter. We dubbed the Plymouth "The Great White Carp". My attorney, a 350-pound Samoan said, " As your attorney, I advise you to take this money and buy as many jugs of Dr. Ignatius Trundell of the Drovers Old Time Medicine Show’s homemade elixir as you can. That, and a big jar of pickled pig’s feet from Livwright’s General Store."

"Good Lord!" I yelled. "Did you see the size of that creek lizard that just crawled across the hood?!" There was hillbilly music and the sounds of many shotguns. Rhubarb vibes on a Saturday night. We were slap in the middle of Nowhere. Prater’s Creek, SC. Where the strongest moonshine in the world is made. Where The Drovers Old Time Medicine Show sings and plays music about this paint peeling concoction that sends you on a Faulknerian trip of Ryman auditorium hallucinatory visions without having to leave the farm.

Saturday midnight……memories of this are extremely hazy. All I have, for guideposts, is a finger pick some banjo player gave me, a barbecue sauce stain on my shirt, and business card from a guy who raises coon dogs.

Ah, devil moonshine-a total body drug. The mind recoils in horror, unable to communicate with the spinal column. The hands flap crazily, unable to get money out of the pocket….garbled laughter and hissing from the mouth….always smiling.

My attorney and I entered the barn dance where The Drovers Old Time Medicine Show was playing a breakdown. Uncle Carl’s Scruggs-style picking, pterodactyls flying out of his bald head. Lizards hanging onto the end of Cousin Ray’s fiddle bow, rosin raining down on their reptilian heads.

My attorney cracked open a jug under my nose. I looked over and there were two pigs dancing. No, not cops, real porkers, bacon on the hoof. "God’s mercy on you swine!" I shouted.

They looked at me, but said nothing. By this time I was laughing crazily. But it made no difference. I was just another messed up hillbilly with a bad heart. Shoot, they’ll love me over at the cakewalk. I took another big hit off of the jug. I felt like a hayseed version of Horatio Alger….A Man on the Move, and just drunk enough to be totally confident.  

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