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Johnny Turner teams up with author Gretchen Griffith to present the many adventures and misadventures of his notorious uncle, Claude Bishop Minton. This larger than life innovator brought exciting tales to his family, bootleg whiskey to his clients, and challenges to the revenuers who chased him through the woods. He was a man ahead of his time, developing the first roller skating rink in western North Carolina. He was a master craftsman, building not only stagecoaches, but also surreys and Conestoga wagons.
Claude Minton was a master cook, selling his delicious concoctions in the front of his several restaurant establishments even as he sold white lightning out the back. A native of Wilkes County, North Carolina, the Moonshine Capital of the World, he practiced his art not only in hidden mountain coves as he brewed batches of his recipe, but also in plain view with television cameras rolling as he demonstrated the process of manufacturing gasohol. Johnny considers himself fortunate to claim Claude Minton as his uncle.
Like his Uncle Claude, author Johnny Turner has had many adventures of his own. He has lived and worked in North Carolina his entire life, in textiles at Blue Bell Industries, in furniture at both Caldwell and Bernhardt industries, and in advertising at Appalachian Outdoor Advertising. His interest in writing comes from his years at several newspapers, the Lenoir News Topic and the Lincoln Times and News. He was the co-founder of the Caldwell Courier, a weekly newspaper in Hudson, North Carolina.
At age ten Johnny began a passion for cars, owning his first car at age twelve. He has restored antique cars, won awards at numerous local and national car shows (Chattanooga, Tennessee; Roanoke, Virginia; and Charlotte, North Carolina), built five race cars, and personally knows several vintage NASCAR drivers. Two of his cars were leased to CBS for the movie, Shake, Rattle and Roll, and to Senator John Warren III and son for the PBS television documentary, “The Curtis Turner Story.” He has been a part of the pre-race parades at the Charlotte Motor Speedway “600” and the Darlington “Southern 500.” For twenty-five years he has operated an antique Ford parts business and in 2001 was one of only five (with Junior Johnson, Ned Jarret, Roy Hill and Lee Holman, son of John Holman) invited to be a part of the Ford Motor Company’s “100 Years of Racing” in Dearborn, Michigan. In 2003 he drove Grand Marshall Junior Johnson around the Hickory Speedway for their Fiftieth Year of Racing Celebration. Gretchen Griffith’s husband, Van, introduced her to Johnny Turner, one of his golfing friends, who had a request. Could she preserve the stories of his Uncle Claude? That answer was an enthusiastic, “Yes,” and the months of research and writing began. With this latest book, she adds to her collection of true life stories from the North Carolina mountains. She is a former teacher whose interest in preserving history through oral projects led her to become a self-proclaimed Storycatcher. Through her work with the Gamewell History Committee in the North Carolina town where she lives, she has discovered a love of interviewing and seeking out fascinating stories of everyday citizens. Her undergraduate and graduate degrees are from Appalachian State University, where she first developed an appreciation of mountain culture.
Wheels & Moonshine The Stories and Adventures of Claude B. Minton
The North Carolina Society of Historians 2014 Willie Parker Peace Book Award Judges’ Collective Comments: It was an experience reading this book! We found Claude B. Minton, his life and his antics, to be one of the most colorful characters we have read about in a long time. We didn’t know what to expect from him from page to page and after reading on, we were not disappointed. We learned so much social history from the text as well as some things we probably shouldn’t know about…we laughed and we cried. And, when the last page was read, when 87-year-old ‘Uncle Claude’ went ‘home’ and the book was closed…we felt honored to have ‘known’ him and we miss him already! This book can be read in just a couple of hours, and these will be hours well spent. The informative, reader-friendly text, is warm and inviting; and the accompanying vintage photographs are wonderful. This book is simply perfect.
Wheels & Moonshine