I’ll admit it — I was startled to see that the Gem-Dandy Garter Co. advertised on this 2- by 4-inch card is still operating, though with a modernized name and product line.
Here’s how Gem-Dandy Accessories, headquartered in the Rockingham County town of Madison, traces its path into the 20th century:
“The Penn Family started Gem-Dandy in 1921 as a successor to the Penn Suspender Co. Green Penn, the first company president, invented and patented the GEMCO Adjustable Garter — the world’s first fully adjustable garter for men, women and children….
“Gem-Dandy entered the belt business during World War II. The Danbury name was registered as a brand name in the 1970s and sales expanded across the country into thousands of men’s specialty shops.
“Today, Gem-Dandy distributes a wide variety of belts, wallets, suspenders and other accessories in dress, casual, work wear and western styles. We are the proud licensor of several popular brands such as Greg Norman®, Pebble Beach® , John Deere®, Berne Workwear®, Roper®, REALTREE® and Colours by Alexander Julian®. We also have our own proprietary brands including Danbury Golf, Danbury Workwear, Lady Danbury, G-Bar-D Western Outfitters and Cowgirls Rock. Our products can be found in major department stores as well as smaller venues.”
“In North Carolina, the ‘Moonshine Capital of the World’ (3,846 stills seized in 1954), state officials have inaugurated a shrewd new strategy against moonshiners.
“On the shelves of state liquor stores there has appeared a civilized but untamed 100-proof corn liquor respectably labeled ‘White Lightning — Clear as the Mountain Dew’ and respectably distilled on order by a subsidiary of the Brown-Forman Distillers Corp. in Louisville. The North Carolina Board of Alcoholic Control had decided it would stop trying to wean moonshine guzzlers, and would offer them a better product.
“White Lightning is produced from a mash of 85 percent corn. 15 percent malt — no rats, snakes or lye. It is aged less than 30 days, and then the aging process is stopped by storing it in uncharred, paraffin-lined barrels. At $4.40 a quart, it costs less than most aged amber whiskies but slightly more than moonshine ($3.50 to $4 a quart). North Carolinians snapped up the first consignment. ‘Man,’ said one satisfied customer last week, ‘that’s just like I was raised on.’ ”
— From Time magazine, July 25, 1955
The Brown-Forman version of moonshine seems no longer available. In 2005, however, Piedmont Distillers in Madison introduced Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine, and it has since added Junior Johnson’s old-family-recipe Midnight Moon.