Literary Liaisons

A blog about writing and all things story…

The Real McCoy

It’s no big wonder that the new series, The Hatfield’s and McCoy’s is doing so well, it’s got all the good story themes covered in one long epic journey; Two men fighting over a pig (who doesn’t love that!) Family honor, justice and vengeance – A Romeo & Juliet style (forbidden) romance – A love triangle – Sex – Lots of shooting, killing, hangin’ and gettin’ locked up – Loss, grief, regret, condemnation and forgiveness, just to mention a few.

I grew up hearing about the evil Hatfields and the ‘real’ McCoys.  
My beloved grandparents were from ‘them thar’ hills.  Check out
my Grandma and her brothers, the O’Cleary Clan. Yep, Irish. Fightin’ Irish we was.
It was a hard time in our history. My Grandma bemoaned their fighting, but, being Irish, she also understood it and loved retelling their romanticized stories.  My grandfather, who was born in France and transported (long story) to the Appalachians as a small child of French speaking immigrants, remembered when he was about 10 years old how reporters came up to the mountain on the ten year anniversary (1912-ish) of the last Hatfield trial, asking around for anyone who may have known anything about Johnse Hatfiel. Johnse was the Romeo in the Romeo & Juliet portion of the popular story. (In truth, not so much a Romeo as a Lothario; Read the true story here –    

It was meeting one young reporter that piqued grandpa’s interest in story telling – well, of the news reporting sort. He thought the job that reporter had was about the best job in the world and so set out to become one. It was a long hard Depression Era journey, but grandpa arrived, tattered and weary, to his dream, at least a version of it.
Gramps, Minnie Mouse, & Mom

Consequently, I grew up going to the Oregonian News Paper
where grandpa worked for over thirty years. I was a regular in
the production room. My name tag read, ‘Minnie-Mouse-Meyers.’

Grandpa never made it as far as he dreamed (to be a full time writer; poetry, novels, etc) but he came darned close for a man who came from nothing and drug his family of ten clear across the country during the depression.  I believe it’s not always how far you go, but how far you’ve come. Anyway…
By the time I came along, it was the conclusion of grandpa’s dream, but the beginning of mine.  He bought me books; not Dr. Seuss or See Spot Run books, but Reader’s Digest condensed novels (I still have them) Books like The Hunchback of Notre dame, and Jane Eyre. And he expected me to read them and report back. I was in the 2nd grade when he introduced me to his favorites; Mark Twain, and then Edgar Allen Poe, whose life was hauntingly similar to grandpa’s.  Poe lived his words, grandpa said -he was the real McCoy. So, grandpa read Poe to me; pacing back and forth in his house while I sat in the overstuffed fuzzy chair and listened. Then he took me to the office, bought me fancy tablets and pencils, so I could begin. He set me on this path and pointed to the direction he hoped I’d go.

Thank you grandpa. He was a man who made many, many mistakes in life, but whose essence lives on in my memory and in every word I write and every novel or poem I read. What a gift he gave.

What’s your story? When did you first want to write, to tell stories, to capture other people’s stories, to create images (in any art form)?
Let me know and maybe I’ll post it here.

BTW -it may surprise you that the ‘Real McCoy’ has nothing to do with the Hatfield’s & McCoy’s  and more to do with Scottish Whiskey–read on  

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2 comments on “The Real McCoy

  1. Jack
    July 14, 2012

    Hi Mindy. I'm happy that you're back in the swing of things. You looked great on Friday. Hope to see you more often. Thanks for keeping up your blog. The new format is very accessible.

  2. Stephen Hayes
    June 12, 2012

    Great post. I find it fascinating to learn how people were introduced to their muses. As a kid I was always making up stories and playing the "What If Game." What if Hitler had conquered the world? What if Rome never fell? Where would I go if I had a time machine? Oddly, my penchant for storytelling turned to illustration long before writing. I've finally come to accept that I'm not so much an illustrator or writer as I am a storyteller. It took years to finally accept what I am– a storytelling chubby chatterbox.

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This entry was posted on June 12, 2012 by in Harfields and McCoys.
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