Blackberry Acid

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 27, 2000

"Blackberry Acid" is an elixir of extraordinary quality-it does wonders for the digestion, particularly when served before mealtime.

It is decanted into a cut glass wine goblet that, when filled with the deep purple beverage, really improves one's state of mind.

The only thing wrong with the above is that it has been presented to you out of its proper tense.

Email newsletter signup

Actually, it should have been phrased in the past (not the present) tense, and it should have been told that the "acid" aided the digestive processes of but one individual.

"It was never offered to anyone else (but) Grandmother… (and was) made from berries that she grew in her backyard."

The above has been excerpted from a booklet authored by the late Park Smith, Jr. of Greenville. It presents a delightful treasure trove of remembrances from his childhood and of tales related to him by those of his ancestry who pioneered the Butler County terrain.

As stated in the frontispiece of the booklet, it is a brief chronicle of events, places, things and notable people of Greenville, Alabama.

Included in his historical review are the beginnings of Greenville-

references to the market place and the opera house, the old lamplighter, the village of Fort Dale, the Falcon Club, the Great Depression, the earliest automobile and the customs and personalities that made up the warp and woof-the underlying structure-of our remarkable county.

Park discusses the medical beginnings of health care hereabouts, the early drug stores and radio broadcasting at its inception, as well as the first airports and telephone services peculiar to our area.

The sixty-nine pages of illustrations-both verbal and graphic-hold your attention throughout as Park conjures up the days of "wine and roses" as well as the bad times when cotton was king, and the days of the Roosevelt era with bank closures, the CCC boys and the WPA programs that contributed to the "recovery" from the "panic days" of the 1930s.

But, to get back to the beginning of this columnar discourse, Park Smith functioned under the delusion for about forty years that "blackberry acid" was, as simply stated, his grandmother's alimentary canal's soothing pre-meal aid to digestion.

As Park relates in the booklet, "Grandmother never told us it was anything but blackberry acid, but my cousin told me, about forty years after she had been in Heaven, that it was wine.

"This was hard for me to believe," he continues, "as she was the organist at the Methodist Church and the oldest member of the Missionary Society, and her life was guided by the Methodist Discipline."

The booklet "Blackberry Acid" with its reports concerning the past and present must be read and savored to be properly appreciated.

The first editions of this brief history are limited, and copies of it may be found at a later date at the Greenville-Butler County Public Library for your perusal.

Reproductions of the small volume may be hard to come by, but could become available for public consumption, depending on the demand.

All I know is, I had a hard time wresting my copy from Nina, a voracious reader, once she got her hands on it.

Editor's note: This has been provided by the author, who first penned this in his "Chamber Music" column in the Greenville Advocate, in 1992, during his tenure as the executive director of the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce. It was later published in his book, entitled: Chamber Music and Camellia Bouquets, by C.H. Buster' MacGuire, copyright 1995 by C.H. Macguire.