The Life, Myth, and Legend of
By B.T. Morehead
“Pale Eddie” Historian and Whiskey Enthusiast
A wise man once said, “Legends never die.” While this statement is true and transcends history and culture, another man of debatable intellectual capacity once said, “Hold my beer while I light this on fire.” Is it any less a profundity to regard the former as drunken buffoonery or the latter as dated and misguided wisdom? We choose to let you be the judge. But what we can say is that another great man once said, “A balanced existence requires equal parts raucous debauchery, gentlemanly pursuits, the means to elude law enforcement when necessary, and just a twist of luck. When in doubt, look towards libations for guidance. It isn’t one ingredient that makes the beverage, but a sum of all the parts and such is life.”
The text that follows is the abridged story of that great man, “Pale Eddie.”
Much has been said and written about “Pale Eddie” and while the information as to who he was depends on who you’re talking to and in what county within the state of Alabama you’re in. The most important fact that should be stated is that no one is sure if that was even his real name. While sparse documentation exists in the form of wanted bills in Dodge City, patents pending for a pressurized beer pump in Munich, and authorship of a progressive Baroque era sonata in Vienna titled, ‘Dixie my Love’, little is known about the man who called himself “Pale Eddie” other than fact that his story is as long as the thread that weaves through the fabric of our southern heritage.
The first recorded documentation of the Pale Eddie moniker appears in the Birmingham Register in 1893. Hiram Maxim was giving a presentation on his new marvel of the industrial age, the automatic machine gun. This day could have gone down in history without notation just like any other had it not been for the exploits of a single young boy who managed to change the course of the South and possibly history as we know it. Direct quote from the Picayune, “Some unruly bandits looking to profit from Mr. Maxim’s innovation attempted to abscond with the ‘machine gun’ but as if by some kind of divine fortuitous intervention a toe headed youngster named Edward shooting marbles in the alley way foiled their plot. Using a water pale, his marbles, and a prized family cow he was able to subdue the interlopers and hold them at rest until authorities could arrive. “Pale Eddie”, as the constable referred to him, was unavailable for a quotation or photo opportunity but he did manage to take all of his opponent’s marbles after identifying the perpetrators.
And the legend began…
Accounts of Pale Eddie’s exploits and adventures are widely known and recorded: A Persian prince once had a monument constructed in his honor to commemorate the introduction of “Birmingham White Lightning” moonshine into the Fertile Crescent, he was unofficially knighted by Queen Victoria for saving the crew of the HMS Valiant by constructing a flotilla made of ice, whiskey bottles, and sawdust and he is said to be the only American to have cigars with Castro over Cuba Libres in Havana.
While the validity of some of these claims in regard to Pale Eddie’s adventures have been questioned by historians and scholars, one thing is clear. After years abroad and in country, Pale Eddie settled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains near Birmingham Alabama some time between 1916 and 1919. At about this time the US government, in all of it’s might and wisdom, felt that the good people of the Union shouldn’t be able to enjoy libatious spirits on the grounds that they contributed to the degradation of the greater good of the people. This didn’t sit well with Pale Eddie…
Pale Eddie knew that it was man’s right to consume the nectars of the earth and that no man should be deprived the privilege of a cold beer, stout whisky, full bodied wine, or “Tottie” of his own design and making. So it was here, in these hills, lowlands, and deltas where Pale Eddie took on his greatest cause and liberated the masses from oppressive ideologues bent on depriving the good people of Alabama and the rest of the United States of their god given rights to spirits, revelry, and happiness.
To this day the US government does not acknowledge Pale Eddie as the main cause for the end of prohibition but it is rumored that J Edgar Hoover himself assembled a task force to apprehend the outlaw rapscallion he referred to as, “Pale Eddie.”
While there’s sparse information at best about Pale Eddie and his whereabouts in the latter years of his life, many reports conflict with folklore and historical record. Some say he moved to Hollywood and prospered as a financier in the burgeoning film industry, others say he took a young bride on a small Pacific Island and ruled their king, and still others say he stayed in these very hills and lived quietly sipping the spirits that fueled so many adventures…
While no one will ever truly know what really happened to Pale Eddie, well, to be honest, it doesn’t matter. In the south people say many things and folklore is as big a part of our history as fact. But that being said, so are legends. So raise a glass here at Pale Eddies Pour House and carry on the tradition so generations to come can bask in the legend that created the South…