The book “Voices of the Chincoteague” is built around oral-history memories of folks whose families lived in Greenbackville and Franklin City during boomtimes for those towns back in the day. Franklin City is gone now. Greenbackville is still there, right on on the Chincoteague Bay at the Maryland/Virginia line.
When Prohibition became law, most of the women of the community applauded. On the other had, most of the men … did not wait long before devising ingenious ways to acquire their beloved alcohol. The Eastern Shore of Virginia … had access to bootleg whiskey from oceangoing vessels during Prohibition years. Once smuggled onto land, the contraband was distributed by people loosely identified as bootleggers.
Against the better judgement of a son and in defiance of his wife’s wishes, every Saturday morning one father would convince his son to drive him to his favorite distributor. The grandson remembered:
Get yerself up and carry me out to Sam’s.
Pop, I’ll carry ya’ out there but just get one gallon. Don’t get two gallons.
(If Pop’d get a gallon he could do what he wanted to do, but if he got two gallons it messed him up on his work schedule.)
You take me and that’s all I’m gonna get.
Naw, you’ll get out there an’ he’ll talk you into two.
He’ll not talk me into two, I’m only gonna get one.
(When they got there, the bootlegger greeted them with bad news.)
Ya know them [revenuers] closed up ole Henry over there on the other side last week, I don’t know if I’ll be here next week or not.
(That’s when Pop’d start losing his breath, he’d be a puffin’ and pantin’ and scared to death he’d not get any the next week.)
Well then, Sam, ya’ better make it two!
Here is “Voices of the Chincoteague” on Amazon. The subtitle is: “Memories of Greenbackville and Franklin City.” The authors are Martha A. Burns and Linda S. Hartsock.
—Research by Jim Duffy