While browsing through the tabloids, I was stunned to see the death of Mary Tyler Moore yesterday. Diving into her biography, I was equally stunned to see she was such a comedic actress (pop-culture is not my thing). To me, Mary Tyler Moore was someone completely different.
Growing up in western New York far from any Civil War battlefield, I used to keep my Civil War fascination aflame by binge watching any movies related to the war that I could get my hands on—from the good ones to those that were not so good. The cinematic recreation of Gore Vidal’s Lincoln has particularly stuck in my mind to this day, and I still own the VHS edition. To me, Mary Tyler Moore was the eccentric, politicized, and slightly crazed First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln. That’s how I had always “known” her.
Fast forward nearly ten years to me looking at colleges, and, on accident, I stumble across Shepherd University and the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War (GTMC). “Shepherd has a Civil War Center?” I remember asking. Well, I did not commit right there, but I was hooked.
Thanks to Mary Tyler Moore’s generous donation to the University of her ancestor’s Shepherdstown home (see Eric’s post for more on that), I had a place to fully immerse myself in the Civil War history field. Having such an incredible resource within walking distance of my residence for four straight years (it’s still not far from me) makes research on such a vast topic like the Civil War that much easier and fun. If you live in the tri-state region, make sure you treat yourself and swing by the GTMC for a day of research.
I like to think that turning the key to one piece in my life opens many doors, whether I see it at the time or not. Thanks to Mary Tyler Moore’s gift, my time spent at the center bearing her father’s name got my feet firmly on the ground in this field. I also like to think that everything in life, one way or another, comes full circle. The GTMC sponsored my first-ever book talk and signing a little over one year after I graduated from Shepherd.
I hope that Mary Tyler Moore is looking down now, smiling, knowing what a difference she has made.