Thursday, Dec. 04, 2008

The Real McCoy

Sailor William McCoy got into the bootlegging business mostly because he loved boats. According to Prohibition, by Edward Behr, McCoy designed "luxurious speedboats for millionaires" before he became a rum runner. Transporting $8 cases of the liquor from the Bahamas to Martha's Vineyard on his ship the Arethusa, he made $300,000 in profit for each trip. McCoy's liquor was genuine imported spirits — and not homemade swill or moonshine — but imitators tried to claim their illicit drink was "The Real McCoy." The Arethusa, according to Behr, "was a floating liquor store, with shelves of samples for visitors. Tasting was encouraged...a swiveling machine-gun emplacement was prominently in view." Despite trying to hide out with some Native Americans, McCoy was eventually arrested and thrown in jail. After being released, he retired to Florida a rich man.