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The real Mokey was my father, based upon a book written by my great aunt.
My name is Jim Gallaher, and interestingly enough, Mokey was my father. His aunt was a writer during the thirties and wrote a book called 'Mokey' that was also published in installment form in Colliers Magazine. I'm not sure of the spelling of Colliers Magazine, but I know it was a popular magazine that was the size of Life Magazine... but had more of a story and article format. I actually have the original book 'Mokey'.
I agree that the movie was not that good, but I enjoyed it because of my father's legacy. His name was Dennis Gallaher (he was a chiropractor in a small town, called Parker Arizona, and passed away in 1968). Actually, my father told me some of the stories as I grew up before I saw the movie (which was in 2003) or read the book. He was a problem kid and the family ended up sending him to military school.
His father (my grandfather), Harry Gallaher, was a chiropractor in Oklahoma and was involved with regional politics as a supporter and associate of Huey Long. Because of these activities my grandfather Harry Gallaher spent considerable time away from home... which led to a son (my dad, Mokey) who got into trouble partially due to lack of having his father around. My dad said he had a lot of trouble with his step mother and did not like his upbringing from her.
He ran away more than once, sometimes traveling as far a Louisana to reunite with his father who was hanging out with his political cronies. My father picked up a Cajun accent as a result of playing with the children he met from his sojourns to that area.
In another run-away incident, my father told me that he was walking down a country road and met a black family selling produce at a road stand. He was asked what his name was and he said it was Jimmy. He said that's what they called him from that day on. He said they took him in and he ended up being part of their family for a while. I, being my father's only son, was named Jimmy (James,really) in honor of this time in his life. I don't know anything about him being made up to look like a black kid except what I saw in the movie. I don't think it happened.
Even though my father was from a southern family with the typical prejudices, I was taught respect for black people and the N word or other kinds of negative words or ideas were never used in my family. I believe that the experience he had with the black family changed the southern-attitude upbringing he'd had and influenced the attitudes he taught his own family as well.
As is true of all art interpreting life, the movie was not a true depiction of what his childhood was... and neither was the book, for that matter. But much of the movie and book was based on true events.
By the way, my childhood dog was named Mokey and so is our family dog today.. but its spelled Moki.
I'd be interested in any comments from others.
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