Family reflects on father’s legacy

Published 4:57 pm Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

I remember very well the day old Dooley died

The women folk looked sorry and the men stood around and cried.

If the people of Bullock County could have written an epithet for Clyde May, it would be those words from the song, “Dooley” from the Andy Griffith Show. When Clyde May died, even men “stood around and cried.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

And, not because Clyde May made the best moonshine whiskey — the kind that folks would come to blows over who got the last jug. The women folk looked sorry and the men stood around and cried for the loss of Clyde May because of the kind of man he was.

On Monday, Clyde May was honored for his worth and his whiskey as ground was broken for the Clyde May Distillery in Troy. Local and county officials, Governor Kay Ivey and members of Clyde May’s family participated in tossing the first shovels of dirt.

L.C. May, Clyde May’s grandson and Clyde May’s Whiskey brand ambassador, and May’s sons and daughter, Billy May, Charles May and Zelda May, participated in the ground-breaking ceremony. To a one, they said their dad would be proud and honored for his whiskey to be made “legally” and to the same high quality he produced in a somewhat crude still on the Conecuh Ridge from the 1950s to the 1980s.

L.C. May said the ground breaking for the Clyde May Distillery was a big day for the family. He acknowledged his uncle, the late Kenny May, whose dream it was for Clyde May’s whiskey to be distilled somewhere along the Conecuh Ridge and for his legacy to continue.

“Daddy would be rocking back with pride at what has happened today,” Billy May said. “This is not an honor that he could have never imagined. Daddy worked hard all his life and he helped anybody he could. He was full of life and enjoyed his family and cared about everybody.”

Sure, Clyde May was a moonshiner, but that was a way of life for many men back in those days.

“We all looked up to Daddy and wanted to make him proud of us, like we were proud of him.”

Charles “Spooky” May said. “I helped Daddy make moonshine and there was a moonshine still in the back yard the day he died. 

“Daddy was as good as his word. If he told you something, you could bank on it. I try to be like Daddy because that’s the best way I know how to live my life.”

Zelda May remembers her dad as kind and caring and always there to lend a helping hand.

“Daddy was a hero to all his children, all eight of us,” she said. “He commanded respect and he deserved respect. It did all of our hearts good, when we made Daddy proud of us. We were always proud of him.”

Clyde May, probably, will be remembered publicly for his whiskey but his family remembers him simply as the best and most caring man they have ever known and their mother, Mary Cynthia, as his inspiration and the love of his life.

“When Daddy died, we received a letter for one of his pallbearers saying how thankful he was to have Daddy in his life,” Zelda said. “He said Daddy’s word was worth more than what any lawyer could write in a book and how Daddy had the ability to keep his nose out of other people’s business and just take care of his own.”

The letter closed with the writer’s belief that, if everyone had the values of Clyde May, the world would be a better place.

What better testimony to Clyde May, the moonshiner and the man.