September 24, 2013

How [Marble] Coffey Got His Brandy

How Coffey Got His Brandy.

A Richmond gentleman tells the following story of how and old man in Nelson county succeeded in getting some "Apple Jack" for Christmas:

"Marble Coffey is now about eighty years old, and advancing age has compelled him to lay aside his calling as a carpenter, and thus he is not always financially able to indulge himself in the luxuries of life.  Marble is a brother of Peter C. Coffey, a former noted distiller and famous justice of the peace of that county.  Peter has long since gone to his reward, but his memory remains, and marble in a way reflects the ancient glory of his picturesque brother.

"Not so strong is Marble Coffey from the standpoint of physical beauty, for he is low of statue and his nose and chin clearly meet in a fashion that makes everybody give him a second glance.  As Christmas drew near Marble longed with an infinite desire for a quart of good old apple brandy such as Peter used to brew.

"Money was scarce, and Marble's wits alone stood as the medium of exchange for the desired distillation.  The bars have all been closed in Nelson, but Marble remembered a still-house on the river Tye and taking to big quart bottles he began his journey to the mountains.  Before reaching his destination he stopped at a spring and filled one of his bottles with water, thinking out a scheme as he trudged along.  At the distillery he ordered a quart of the oldest vintage, and from his best cask the owner filled the bottle.

" 'I will pay you,' said Marble, 'after Christmas.'

"The came a series of words in print like this ____ ____ ____ _ ____, and credit was emphatically and profanely denied old Marble.

"Take back your blank blank brandy, said Marble, but give me my bottle, and he pulled out the water bottle from the side of the brandy bottle in his overcoat pocket.

"Back into the cask was poured the quart of water, while with well concealed delight old Marble started home with his one quart of 'vintage of '78.'  He paused at the spring on his return and drank a spirited toast of apply brandy to the sparkling water that is 'only good to trade for better stuff.' "

Source for apple mill drawing:

The above appeared in the Staunton [Virginia] Spectator of Friday, Jan. 10, 1902, Vol. 81, No. 2, Col. 6 and was transcribed by Jack Coffee on Sep. 24, 2013.  All Rights Reserved.

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