That’s how Patsi B. Tollinger describes Jockey Isaac Murphy, the subject of her biography PERFECT TIMING. But Patsi didn’t know about Isaac’s strength of character when she started the project.
How do you get so hooked?
I stumbled across one particular historic photo, says Patsi. The picture confounded me. Here’s the scene: Six men are dressed in fine suits and hats, wearing the old-fashioned ‘bling’ of the 1890s (pocket-watches). The date on the picture is August 1890, and even though some states actually had laws forbidding interracial socializing, five of these men are white and one is black. The lone black man is Isaac Murphy, and as I soon learned, the picture was taken at a party given in his honor. From that one picture, I got the feeling that Isaac was an extraordinary man who, in some ways, triumphed over the racial prejudice that was rampant in the late 1800s. I wanted to get to know him.
And now we can, too.
Next Wednesday: What Isaac's biographer learned from him and why it matters.