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Video: Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton With His Still, And Memorial Service

January 28, 2010

If you want to see an old-fashioned way to be brought to a funeral then this is the blog post for you.   But first…….

If you are like some other readers to my blog you might wonder why the post about  “Popcorn” Sutton is listed among the top ten most-read items week after week.   At first I thought the interest in this story was due to just an interesting post concerning  a Tennessee moonshiner.  But as time went by, and more and more folks commented on the post, I started to understand.   “Popcorn” Sutton was a real character, and I say that in a respectful manner.  While others seem to have known about him for a long time, it was only following his death that I have come to understand the interest in this slice of  Americana.

How “Popcorn” Sutton landed on my blog is really due to the ability of a reporter to write a great obituary for the Wall Street Journal.  After all,  I like to read interesting obituaries.  From time to time when I discover one that is well-written about a most intriguing person I post it here on my blog.  So in March 2009 when I read about the life and passing of Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton I put down my newspaper and posted it.  I had no way to know that I was about to connect with nearly 30,000 readers, (updated figure as of Dec. 2012) some who would leave comments like this one which arrived just last week.

I’m still sad and sick over his “passing”….I knew Popcorn and was one of the few “Yankees” who he trusted….I live in Upstate SC and travelled up to see him many times. I even named one of my dogs after him…”Little Popcorn”…..And I took him up to Marvins house just before he was “busted” for the second time….”YOU NAMED A DAWG AFTER ME??” he drawled…..My answer was “Yes Sir..a stray just like you”…He cackled and spent the afternoon taking “Little Popcorn” all over the property, just like a big old kid, “Billy Gibbons” beard and cigarette dangling from his mouth….

Late that afternoon, his wife Pam had supper ready….Venison, roasted potatoes, green beans and of course…..cornbread….

When I was getting ready to leave and had already loaded “Little Popcorn” into the truck me came sauntering out of his house…Put his right hand out to shake mine and a “gift” in his left hand…a jug of moonshine…”This is for you…and Thankee fer the day” is all he said…and walked back into the house….

And that was the last time I saw him alive…I followed everything with his second “bust” the only mistake he made was having a few shotguns with him…which turned his conviction into a “posession of a firearm by a convicted felon….and that he couldn’t “stand up” to no fault of his own…he was “broken down” and in bad health…At his funeral, I cried like a baby…and of course “Little Popcorn” was with me to say “goodbye” to his namesake and friend…Our good friend, Popcorn Sutton…
I still keep that jug of Moonshine on a shelf in my bedroom, unopened and untouched and always will remain as a memorial to him and what he “stood for”…..

With all the interest in this man I started to do some more research into “Popcorn” Sutton and found him to be a truly intriguing person that represented a certain period of our history, and a certain way of living.  Without me making a judgment on ‘moonshine’  one thing can be stated as fact.  “Popcorn” Sutton must have been mighty fun to have talked with, and watched in the hills as he worked.

26 Comments leave one →
  1. Sybil Cross permalink
    January 6, 2012 5:57 PM

    Years ago, my husband (then boyfriend) and I went to the mountains for a week long vacation, and had the pleasure of meeting Popcorn Sutton. He had a roadside souvenier shop just up the moutain from Maggie”s Valley. We stopped to check it out. I never imagined then that I would be meeting a real legend. We looked around his shop and bought some of the best boiled peanuts I have ever ate then, or since. Over the years, I have seen him in a few documentarys on television and told people about him. I found him to be quite a neat character and smarter than he got credit for. I am saddened to hear that he is gone. I told my husband a few months ago that I would love to go back to the mountains and see if “Popcorn” is still there next summer, and pay him a visit. I”m sorry you’re gone, sir. I really felt a bond from meeting you that one time. May you rest in peace. (And stop laughing cuz I called you sir (:

  2. Dortha permalink
    January 5, 2012 5:20 PM

    the moonshiners series brought a lot of people a understanding of a way of life most people never saw, I would have loved to have met him and listened to the stories he could have told what a valuable man he was to our history condolences to his family

  3. woodson hardy permalink
    January 5, 2012 1:49 PM

    I just watch moonshiners and fell in love popcorn sutton his memory will live on in my heart.sadly missed.god bless you mrs sutton.

  4. pamela permalink
    January 5, 2012 12:15 AM

    God Bless Moonshine make it legal.

  5. Gloria permalink
    January 4, 2012 6:43 AM

    A great loss. In watching the new series MOONSHINERS I didn’t know until further in the show that popcorn had passed. I am so sorry for the loss and the traditions of the southern people. More than just a man has left us.

  6. B.M. Sutton, Jr permalink
    January 3, 2012 4:31 PM

    To Amy: I read an article where Mr. Sutton talked about his grand-dad, “little Mitch”. My great grandfather’s name was Mitchell Sutton and lived in Jackson County, not far from Maggie Valley. I was wondering if his grand dad was a Sutton or a maternal grandfather. If you have any information please contact me by email at….Thanks.

  7. Lee Nightbird permalink
    December 22, 2011 5:14 PM

    Odd that I would find a site featuring one cousin (Popcorn) with another cousin (Roy Acuff) on the same page!

  8. Amy permalink
    August 28, 2011 10:49 AM

    I was asked to look up popcorn sutton for a family tree deal an foud out that he’s a relitave of my granmothers. glad to have him as a relitve and saiden about his death wish i could have meat him an talk with him. You just never know where you family history comes from I for one cant an wont forget Popcorn I will pass him on to the next generation. Its always good to know where you come from. Amy Lewis

  9. Charles A. Kindred permalink
    December 1, 2010 5:15 AM

    I don’t even know how I ran upon the articles and vids on Popcorn. But I’ve enjoyed all the articles and especially the vid’s probably more than anything I have ever read on the Internet. I would have loved to have met him . My sincere condolence’s to his family and friend’s. Charles Kindred -Linden,Tx.

  10. Laurie Arwood permalink
    January 29, 2010 4:44 PM

    Those were some really great videos in which you showed people that Popcorn was a smart man! He was a legend here in Maggie Valley, and people would come from all over the U.S. to be able to meet the Legend behind the Moonshine. My family has had the great fortune of knowing him even if it was a short amount of time. We lived right across Soco Rd. from his antique shop and his famous boiled peanuts. My sons would see ol Popcorn out in front smashing soda cans, and they would ask if they could go across the road to help him. The smashed and smashed until there was no more to smash, and told him they would help him anytime.

    That’s the memory we still remember about meeting a smart man who was a legend of the Smokies. We are very much better off for getting to know Popcorn, and will never forget!!!

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