Old Frank Haas

By Russell Haas


It was 1969, and I was in my first year of teaching and coaching at Mary G. Montgomery High School. I never thought that was a good name for a high school; over the years, it just became MGM, which was clearly better. After all, the Mary G. Montgomery Vikings just left a little to be desired in the fear to be generated in our opponents. 

MGM was only a couple of miles from Semmes High School, the home of the Semmes Bulldogs! I graduated from Semmes High School in 1965, its last year as a high school, and came back to teach and coach at MGM in the fall of 1969.

My first year out of Auburn, I taught Freshman English, Freshman Science, Biology, and one class of Public Speaking. During my “planning period,” the last period of the day, I was helping coach the Viking Football team, whose head coach was one of my heroes (and still is), Charles Leverette. Looking back, I guess I did my lesson planning and grading papers after I got home after practice. I did it all for a $5800 salary plus a $400 coaching supplement. I coached three sports, varsity football, freshman basketball, and freshman baseball. And I thought I was in heaven!

One of my freshman players was Russell Haas. Russ was just all-boy from the small town of Tanner-Williams. His family raised cattle on their farm. His dad, Frank Haas, worked at the family business Haas-Davis Packing company.

And like most 14- or 15-year-old boys, sports, foolishness, hormones, and frustration because the freshman girls were all taken by older boys with driver’s licenses. Russ was a decent ball player—probably better than I was as a first-year coach.

As most knuckleheaded boys do, Russ matured a little each year and graduated four years later. I lost touch with Russ after he graduated in 1974, but 48 years later, in 2022, we connected again on Facebook. He was in Tucson, Arizona, and I was in Cornelius, North Carolina. Russ posted a story, “Old Frank Haas,” on his Facebook page. 

To add to its multiverse, Facebook suggests people you might be obscurely connected to through some of your other friends. I usually don’t give a hoot in hell about Facebook’s suggestion, but this day their algorithm popped up the name of Russell Haas for me to consider. I took a minute to check if this was THE Russ Haas that I had taught, coached, and carried in my car at Mary Montgomery High School. Indeed, it was, and I clicked on the Add a Friend icon. I read his story of Old Frank Haas maybe five times, and as I read, the years passed away, like French fries and pizza in the school cafeteria.

I didn’t know Russell’s dad, but I learned from this account that Russ was the apple that did not fall far from the family tree!



Old Frank Haas


It was around Christmas time in 1965, and my dad, Frank Haas, was trying to decide what to give his employees at Haas-Davis Packing Company for Christmas. 

Frank had just “acquired” several gallons of good moonshine, and after sampling a few shots himself, he hatched the idea for what seemed like the perfect Christmas gift of Holiday Cheer. He designed a label. Purchased twenty-five-pint bottles. And created Old Frank Haas Bootleg Bouquet. 

Several days, and late one night after passing out his gifts, my dad received a call.

“Hi Frank, this is Sheriff Ray Bridges, and I’ve got a bunch of drunk people down here in Pritchard fighting and causing trouble.”

And, what’s more, they’ve all got a bottle of illegal moonshine WITH YOUR NAME ON IT! 

Frank, we need to talk. Can I stop by tomorrow?” 

Sherriff Bridges stopped by the Haas-Davis Packing plant the next day. He and dad went into a back room where nobody could hear what was said, and he gave my dad a good ol’ Southern talking-to.

“Frank,” he said, “I don’t mind a man acquiring a little good shine every once in a while. Hell, Frank, I don’t even mind if he gives some to his friends. But, dammit son, DON’T PUT YOUR NAME ON IT!  

Now, have you got a bottle for me?”


And so goes the legend of “Old Frank Haas.”



Thank you, Russell Haas, for writing this classic story of South Alabama, moonshine-making, a mighty good boss-man, and a commonsense country sheriff. 

Mickey Dunaway


  1. All I can do is shake my head. Sounds like something that would have been done in that area.

    Speaking of Mary G. Montgomery, I grew up with stories about her. As it turned out, she was my Dad’s principal. He always held her in high esteem because she was kind to him when he would be so sick that he couldn’t stand the pain any longer, and she allowed him to walk the three miles home. There was also an incident where some kid called Dad names. They were having an intramural football game that day at school (Semmes). Dad and this kid were playing. Next thing they knew Dad had this kid on the ground with his knee on the kid’s windpipe. Then, a still small voice, “Milton, let him up. Milton, let him up, now.” It was MGM.

    I always wanted to attend there. Sorry I didn’t get the chance, but my younger sister, Cheryl, did. In fact, she was a majorette, just like her big sister!


  2. That sounds just like Frank. My daddy, Kinnie Gartman, did some construction work for him at the plant. And Frank would often make stops at my Uncle Robley Evans’s (mama’s brother) farm and wood shop where I worked a lot as a teenager. I got to see Russell at the combined ’74-’75-’76 Class Reunion in 2020 or 2021. Good memories.


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