A remarkable person who chose to live in Tennessee died this week. Gregory McDonald was a the creator of “Fletch,” a crime-solving reporter whose exploits appeared in novels and in the movies. The video below is the trailer for a 1985 Fletch movie starring Chevy Chase.
According to an obit in the Boston Globe, McDonald was a man of the sea who captained sailboats across 30,000 miles in the world’s oceans. He became a reporter for the Boston Globe, then quit to write fiction. With millions of his 26 books in print, the author moved to Giles County near Pulaski in 1986 and began raising cattle on what the Globe obit writer called a “200-acre antebellum cattle farm.” (I’m curious to see antebellum cattle sometime, but that’s another story.)
McDonald apparently wasn’t too shy to help raise a little hell. He was the co-founder of Giles County United, a group that opposed white supremacy groups who periodically slunk into Pulaski, confident that they would be received warmly at the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan. As I related here, when an Aryan Nation group announced in 1989 it was coming to town for a rally, the townsfolk took a stand. More than 5,000 people signed a resolution condemning the group. More than 200 additional petitions were circulated across the state in opposition to the white supremacists.
The townsfolk took their most dramatic step, however, on October 7, 1989, when the Aryan Nation people arrived and found the town deserted–a very unusual situation on Saturday, normally the busiest day of the week. More than 180 merchants–virtually every one in Pulaski, including Wal-Mart–closed their doors and went home. When the group made its speeches, they echoed off empty buildings and rang through deserted streets.
Not a bad legacy to leave.
This blog is part of a much larger website, also entitled Tennessee Guy, that contains travel and cultural information about Tennessee. Visit it here.