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Coram Dick

Coram Dick
South Side Signal
July 18th, 1874


 In the old and perhaps better days of Long island’s history, there was no one man known better than Richard W. Smith familiarly called “Coram Dick” There was one incident in Richard’s life he was particularly fond of relating. It occurred at the time when Swartwout was Collector of the Port of New York and Billy Price was District Attorney. That was the palmy era when a man’s standing in Congress was determined by the amount of liquor which he could drink and still keep a level head. Coram Dick’s fame as an evaporator of liquids had reached the capital and a neat little plan, of which Swartwout and Price were the instigators, was concocted to get him drunk.

Accordingly, upon Dick’s arrival a party was made up, a room in the hotel secured, and work commenced. The amount of liquor disposed of by that party was something to be marveled at. But while the remaining gentlemen called in turn for “cocktails” and “sours” and “straights” Dick stuck persistently to brandy unadorned. The evening wore on, the small hours dawned and still the party kept up and still Dick held fast to his brandy. Finally it was agreed to end the bout by repairing to an oyster saloon and partaking in supper. There Dick’s companions ate the bivalves and Dick contented himself with brandy. The hands of the clock pointed at 3. The end drew nigh. Swartwout was the first to throw up his hands. One by one the others followed suit – all but Dick. He picked up his nine companions, tenderly laid them upon the settees, covered them over with tablecloths, and placed oyster shells on their eyes. Then he sat down with the bartender and drank brandy. Presently that individual rolled over, and conqueror of all Richard returned to his hotel. They never tried to lay him out after that.

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