The number of Kentuckians with firsthand knowledge of Prohibition, which ended almost 78 years ago, is fast dwindling.
But a few, like Sylvester Mather of Louisville, still have vivid memories.
Mather's father, federal agent Frank Mather, died after a shootout during a raid on an illegal moonshine still during Prohibition.
"He was an agent for about 10 years, and that was the only time anyone ever shot at him," Sylvester Mather said.
Sylvester Mather, 99, was interviewed by Ken Burns' film crew and talks about his father in Prohibition, the Burns documentary that aired on public television earlier this month. Mather said the documentary crew learned of his story through his granddaughter, who works for the Library of Congress in Washington.
Mather said his father originally was a Nelson County farmer.
"You couldn't make much of an income on the farm back then, so my father always had a second job," he said. "When Prohibition started, he became an agent."
For the next decade, Frank Mather prowled the backwoods of Western Kentucky and the mountains of Eastern Kentucky searching for illegal stills and arresting moonshiners. Enforcing liquor laws didn't make Mather popular with his neighbors, and the family sometimes was harassed, his son said.
Sylvester Mather, then a teenager, occasionally accompanied his father on searches for stills.
"We knew it was dangerous," he said. "One time, my older brother and my cousin went with him, and we came upon a still, but the operator was gone. We stayed there all night until the owner came to work the next morning, and my father caught him. This was somebody that my dad actually knew."
That man offered no resistance, he said. But that wasn't always the case.
Frank Mather was working in the Russellville area in 1932 when he approached an illegal still. A deputy sheriff who was at the scene, and might have been working with the still's operator, fired at Mather, who shot back. Both men died.
Prohibition ended the following year.