In physical appearance, I favor my mother's side of the family. The Harvey's (U.K.) and the Boyles (Cork County, Ireland) from whom I also inherited my thirsty Irish genes.
From my boyhood, I remember my grandfather, Charles Eugene Harvey as a bear of a man, with snow white hair and a big smile, but that's about all.
Mostly, I remember my mother's stories about him. Her father was born in Pittsburg, PA. He was one of six brothers, four of whom worked in the coal mines. Mother would frequently retell us three sons the story of how at the turn of the century, these six brothers, all over six-feet tall, would walk into a bar-room, order "sarsaparilla" (a non-alcoholic precursor to "Root Beer") and look around the room just daring anyone make a snide remark or snicker. Tough, coalminers all.
Mother was born in 1906, in New York's Central Park West. Three-years later, the family moved west to Los Angeles. Grandfather, got a job with the Los Angeles Examiner newspaper as a linotype operator, where he worked until retirement. His second career began after his divorce from grandmother, when he started teaching printing at Hollywood High School. At age 62, he washed his hands of the printer's ink, and in semi-retirement, donned the uniform of a doorman, complete with gold buttons and epaulets, at one of Hollywood's fancy hotels.
Mother had a tremendous love for her father. She spoke proudly of the chess-playing atheist who was a voracious reader, a liberal, a thinker and a scholar. She affectionately described him as a lover of people and life.
My favorite anecdote about grandfather was the story mother told us about when he was a hotel doorman in Hollywood. At the hotel he met a woman, who was staying as a long-term guest. Everyday grandfather would be there to open the door for her as she came and went. The woman was a writer, and being kindred spirits--naturally, they became friends.
One day, she checked out of the hotel and returned to the East. During her stay at the hotel, she had written a play. In November, 1944, it premiered on Broadway. It was a smash hit and ran for nearly five-years. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1945. The name of the playwright? Mary Chase. Her play? HARVEY. Based on her friendship and affection for grandfather, the friendly hotel doorman, she honored him by naming her pooka, the invisible 6-6" rabbit, after him!
It would be nice to end our story about Grandfather Harvey here on this high-note. However, like most twist and turns in my ongoing investigation, it seems there is always something MORE....