October 4, 2018
Well, here we go again. A new Home Page for larrymccoyonline.com requested (required?) by those jolly goofballs at Go Daddy. This site is now nine years old, and this is its third Home Page.
Nothing has changed, the objective is the same: Fun is what we’re after. I try to laugh at my misadventures and write about them—be it a doctor holding up a finger and saying “look at my nose”—or my inability to understand how anything works—be it a smart phone or a can opener. Sometimes I write about the news media (I’m a retired journalist), our national political circus (I’m a registered Democrat), or my family (I’m a father of two, grandfather of four).
In between naps and visits to doctors, I try to post something fresh here every couple of weeks.
I grew up in Indiana, moved to New York to work in network radio news and lived in West Germany for ten years, where I learned to ski and to speak enough bad German to order a beer, a ski lift ticket and a hotel room. I like lots of things and lots of people—Emmylou Harris, Billy Collins, Brett Gardner, Bode Miller, Eric Church, Tim Duncan, Matt Damon, Didi Gregorius, Dwight Garner, William Trevor, Bret Stephens, Kate McKinnon, Tom T. Hall and almost (I said almost) anyone from Indiana. I do not like Donald Trump.
During my days in newsrooms, I worked with Ted Koppel (who once asked me, “They didn’t have that shirt in your size?”) and Dan Rather (who once talked to me about a tax plan before Congress, giving the impression he thought the two of us were on the same pay scale). The best journalist I ever met was Jim Edwards, a son of Britain, who never went beyond the eighth grade. If he had, it might have corrupted his ability to write clear, simple copy.
The picture is of Pettneu am Arlberg, Austria, a special place to me near St. Anton where I’ve been lucky enough to ski many times with my son, grandson and friends and where a good number of Austrians have put up with my language inadequacies and made me feel welcome. Though they’ve been very good to me, the Austrians are a dangerous lot. They believe you can’t have just one Schnapps. That would leave your equilibrium off kilter. You must have two Schnapps to restore your balance. And of course, two leads to four and four to whatever comes after that.
If you’re a newcomer to this site, Welcome. You might want to start with the What I've Been Up To section below.
1937 – Born in Frankfort, Indiana.
1942 – Rode tricycle off curb. Immediate and awful swelling in what was then called the “privates.” I have never been the same.
1943-1944 – After grandfather died, we moved to his farm. No electricity or indoor plumbing, but we did have cows, chickens and horses. Dad kept full-time job as salesman in town and instructed me and older brother, Jim, on gathering eggs and milking cows. The gathering was a breeze, the milking wasn’t. Cow named Big Red kicked when tits were touched, providing valuable lesson for later life. Situation complicated because neither Jim nor I had hands strong enough to squeeze once tit-touching accomplished. Farm boy Dad couldn’t comprehend such incompetence. If anyone milked the horses, it wasn’t me.
1945 – Farm sold. Moved back to Frankfort. Stories about Big Red get better as years pass.
1951 or thereabouts – Front page of Frankfort Morning Times reports that Halloween “vandals” messed with chains holding street lights up. A friend, Jim Painter, and I had a hell of a lot of fun doing it and we didn’t break anything.
1955 – Graduated from Frankfort High School with honors, if you consider being voted “Class Clown” an honor.
1955-1959 – Officially enrolled at Indiana University. Even attended a class now and then. While working part-time as a disc jockey in Bedford, Indiana, told by radio station owner: “sarcasm doesn’t go in a small market.” I didn’t believe her.
1960 – Married the first Hungarian I ever met, a student at Indiana University and a woman to boot. Practiced for hours saying “stuffed cabbage” in Hungarian but in-laws always rolled eyes and looked away when I said it. (To this day I haven’t looked up the Hungarian word for “snickering.”)
1960-1965 – Writer-editor for UPI in Chicago. Little money but profitable in terms of vast improvement in drinking capacity.
1965-1968 – Writer-editor at ABC Radio News in New York. Rode Long Island Rail Road to and from work, always sitting in the smoking car, smoking. For this alone I should go to hell.
Early 1969-1971 – Editor in English-language newsroom at Radio Free Europe in Munich. Bought a how-to-speak German book. Went to store and confidently announced I wanted a dozen “augen.” Didn’t get them. Thanks to a kindly German, did leave with a dozen eggs and not the dozen eyes that I asked for.
1971-1973 – Writer-producer at CBS News, Radio in New York. Met Gary Swigert (not his real name), a writer who had been on the overnight shift for so long, riding the same nearly empty commuter train, that all the conductors thought he was one of them and never asked for a ticket. Which was good because he didn’t have one.
1973-1980 – Back to RFE in Munich. Promoted to Senior News Editor and later Assistant News Director. Learned enough German to buy a beer, get a room and ask for a ski lift ticket. Never could figure out how much money any of the Germans were asking me to hand over because these folks say their numbers backwards. (Note that I left the United States every time Dick Nixon was elected President.)
1980-1998 – Informed by Irene, my wife, that we were returning to States, contacted CBS News, Radio and was rehired, this time as an editor. Swigert still there. Still riding without a ticket. After a year or two moved to television news as a manager and met Bill O’Reilly. Soon returned to radio. Named Executive Editor. Entry into radio Management coincided with drastic decline in morale company-wide. Not entirely my fault. Top honchos made a series of brilliant moves, among them firing non-union personnel during a writers’ strike.
1999-2006 – After loafing for a year, answered a newspaper ad and went to work at a place with too many managers. Approximately 1,373 too many. This meant the focus was usually on protecting turf not on turning out readable, coherent copy. Management’s other big concern was frequent mass e-mailings to the staff on transit conditions, including times for ferry sailings. Swigert had retired by this time or would have alerted him about ferry sailings in case he wanted to try his luck at a free ride on water.
2006 – Retired. With lots of free time learned lots of new things, including how to send text messages. (Deleting sent messages remains a mystery. Oldest granddaughter, Rachel, once deleted 774 messages for me.) Other things I’ve learned since retiring: how enjoyable it is to eat lunch in a restaurant rather than at your desk and how to play the publishing game. I sucked up to an old friend who knows a publisher, leading to contract with Sunstone Press to publish a book on aging, “Did I Really Change My Underwear Every Day?”
2011 – Book published. A guy at the gym calls it “toilet reading.” A very close relative tells me “it’s crude.” I don’t argue with them because they bought both their own copies.
Late 2014 – “Everyone Needs an Editor (Some of Us More Than Others)” published by Sunstone Press. Yes, it’s a memoir about my days in news and radio and TV. Several years ago when I told a former CBS News desk assistant what I was working on she said, “Everyone writes a memoir, Larry.” Well, maybe so, but not every memoir includes a few lines on the champion apple-thrower (indoor division) of Bavaria, so there!
November 2016 –Finished a book about grandkids—I have four—called “Grandma Told Me Never To Believe Anything Grandpa Says.” Started looking for an agent or a publisher. Most of what I wrote is true. If the grandkids don't think so, they can write their own books.
April 2017- Began writing a monthly column, The Musings of a Grandfather, for the Great South Bay Magazine.
September 2018 - After many rejections or no responses from publishers and agents, signed a contract with Covenant Books to publish "Grandma Told Me Never to Believe Anything Grandpa Says." It should be out sometime in 2019.
“IT’S ALL IN THE BOOTS.”
Roland Eggleston, an old ski buddy, said that many years ago. I didn’t believe it then. I don’t believe it now, but I’ve never forgotten it.
If something I wrote left an impression, good or bad, use this page to let me know. If you really liked a piece, tell your boss, tell a stranger, tell a relative (even the ones you try to avoid most of the time), tell your bartender, tell someone. Please?
Thanks for spending some time here.