Knoxville, TN — Often the best part of travel is the people you meet. When I’m on the road, in addition to spectacular riding and great food, I’m always looking for interesting local characters. Sometimes they’re not too hard to find.

I was drawn to Fountain City Exxon by a sign out front. A sign that advertised not what was for sale there, but what wasn’t. “No Lottery. No Beer,” announced the sign.

This looked promising.

I strolled inside and met Alvin Frye, the youthful-looking 87-year old proprietor. “I’ve been here 54 years,” he told me. “I’ve never sold beer in my life, don’t drink it either.” And the lottery? “Money is the root of all evil, I’m convinced of that. I want to make it the right way, so i can go home and sleep at night with a clean conscience.”

I was in Tennessee writing an article for Rider magazine on the White Lightning Trail, riding the backroads where Tennessee moonshiners tried to outrun revenue agents who wanted to arrest them for making and selling untaxed liquor. I found some great riding, some great food, and some real characters. I’d just met one more.

“I only drank one time in my life: World War II when I was in the navy. First and last time, 1943 I was on liberty in San Francisco. I got so sick, it woulda been better to die.”

Oh yeah, no hot dogs either, in case you were wondering…

In this part of Tennessee, however, everyone who’s been around awhile has been acquainted with a moonshiner or two, and Alvin is no exception. “Ed Harvey across the street used to sell moonshine and deliver it on his motorcycle. An old Indian. That thing sure was noisy,” Alvin said.

Alvin even had an employee that was a former moonshiner. “A guy that worked for me hauled whiskey. He got out of that business after he got sent to the penitentiary. After he got out, he quit hauling whiskey and went to work for me as a mechanic.”

Again, you never know who’ll you meet on a road trip. Sometimes just a simple sign outside a business is all it takes to meet a fascinating person. I figure you’ve got nothing to lose, except for a few minutes out of your day, and invariably you’ve made a new friend, had a new experience, and have come away with a story to tell.


Fountain City Exxon

5306 Broadway

Knoxville, TN 37918


About Glen Abbott
Glen Abbott is a Florida-based travel writer & photographer specializing in motorcycle touring and travel. He is regular contributor to Harley-Davidson's HOG Magazine, and his travel features appear regularly in motorcycle magazines and other publications.

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  1. The Dropout

    February 21, 2011

    I can’t believe the same guy who raves about a beer festival would go into a place that says “no beer”. You are a very complex man, Glen!.
    Another great road yarn. Thanks for sharing.
    The Dropout recently posted..10 Memorable Moments – A Travel Love Story

    • Travelin' Gringo

      February 21, 2011

      Lol! I guess I felt compelled to discover why someone would willingly reject beer!

  2. Cam

    February 20, 2011

    Ha, interesting! It’s amazing who you meet when you least expect it. No beer or lottery? Impressive
    Cam recently posted..Drinking Beer Around the World – Part Seven

  3. Grace

    February 20, 2011

    Sometimes you just have to follow where the road leads you and the best parts are when you intersect with colorful characters!
    Grace recently posted..Battle of the Petticoats- Vantage Point on Bolivia Part 1

  4. ayngelina

    February 19, 2011

    I find I met the most interesting people in the oddest places where you’d never expect. I guess that’s why it’s important to keep an open mind.
    ayngelina recently posted..Are you ready for bigger- bolder bacon goodness

  5. Jozef Maxted

    February 19, 2011

    But beer is so refreshing haha. That must take some self control!
    Jozef Maxted recently posted..Getting Soaked At Foz Do Iguacu

  6. got to respect a man who has never had a drink. its definitely characters like these that make trips what they are. cool sign too.
    jamie – cloud people adventures recently posted..Travel With a Conscience and “Experience”

  7. Rease

    February 18, 2011

    Haha, what a fun story. Sounds like a cool character to meet on your travels.
    Rease recently posted..Photo Essay- The City at Night

  8. inka

    February 18, 2011

    I have had one or two of these experiences too, when I was drawn by a photograph and met thee most intersting people who told me the story behind, That’s what’s separates the traveler from the tourist.
    inka recently posted..Going East – the second half of the year

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