Sharp Stones, Long Sleeves, and Moonshine Memories

by Jimmy Proffitt

It’s true — you can go home again. Just ask Emmitt when you take a guided tour of our Historic Old Mill. When he was 14, he and some friends were known to hang out around the mill pond. The Simmons family owned the mill at the time, and offered him his first real job helping with the annual sharpening of the stones — one of the most important tasks of being a miller.

Miller Emmitt | The Old Mill

On the first day he showed up to work, he noticed that the other two men were wearing long sleeve shirts… in the middle of summer!

They all got to hammering and chiseling on the stones and by lunchtime Emmitt had to make a quick trip home. His forearms were covered with sharp pieces of granite from the stones and metal from his chisel. He busted through the kitchen door and his mom took one look at him and asked what in the world had happened. She told him to hold his arms over the sink while she reached underneath to grab a Mason jar. Before he could even think about what she was doing, he heard the ring on that jar spin off, and suddenly felt the worst pain he’d ever known.

He said she would laugh years later when she’d tell the story about the time she poured moonshine down his arms and he commenced to dancing all around the kitchen. That moonshine was more pure alcohol than any bottle of rubbing alcohol would ever be, which made it also purifying!

With that, he ran upstairs and changed into a long sleeve shirt and got back to work. Over the next two days they got the stones dressed, and he learned to dress appropriately.

Emmitt left the mill when he was 27, heading out into the world to dredge oysters on the Chesapeake Bay, operate heavy equipment, and work in mines and on pipelines. He traveled to 44 states and 5 countries, collecting antiques and uniques everywhere he went.

After 40 years, he decided it was time to come back home. As our newest old tour guide, he’s certainly qualified for the job. Welcome home, Emmitt, it’s nice to see you again.

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