When I met Padric McGarry in 1976 he looked like a tall, henna-haired Dorothy Lamore from long-ago Hollywood; shoulder length, thick hair, winged shoulder blades, poised with a straight back. His alert, hazel eyes didn’t miss a thing that went on around him. He described himself as “flaming, not nelly with a skinny, fruit body.” We met in New York when he was fifty-one years old. I last heard from him in 1982 and shortly afterwards received a letter from a bereft friend describing a massive heart attack in San Diego, California that had killed him.
Padric had asked me to write his biography but he died before we could assemble ample materials. Time stole me away, other writings were undertaken while thoughts of his life were no longer at the front of my mind. Twenty years passed; ten books were published. I crisscrossed the country and world; matured and became less restless.
When I recently came up for air, thoughts of Padric returned so I searched for our papers and tapes. I found them buried inside a cardboard carton, stored for more than twenty years. The rubber bands had stiffened. They disintegrated and stuck to batched pages and to plastic cassette cases when I lifted them from the carton and more gently pealed.
My novella [The Potato Eater] under construction will be based on what sparse materials were gathered long ago; taped interviews, an outline of a fictionalized sketch drafted with a friend named Spencer that Padric had given me as a springboard, fragments of remembered conversation and events, a few letters and my own imagination. At all times it will reflect his mind-set – camp, sex-obsessed, graphic in the gay language of his (now historic) time.
Padric’s story will be expanded, textured, fictioned and molded into a sculpture made of bell metal in the shape of a tall, slim man of Irish-American descent who was born out of wedlock in 1925 in the Bronx, who didn’t want his experience as a gay man in a straight world way before Stonewall to be forgotten.