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Montgomery Scott, the endlessly resourceful chief engineer of the starship Enterprise has been a familiar presence in our collective imagination for over three decades. Now fans can get to know the unforgettable personality behind one of the 20th century's most enduring icons. of photos.
The third time was in the office of Gene Roddenberry, as I mentioned earlier. Although Gene knew that he wanted a chief engineer, I had tremendous input into shaping Scotty's most notable traits.
The first time was in the nineteenth century.
Actually, that's not quite right. That's when his namesake was born, James Montgomery, my grandfather, for whom I named him. (So just in case you're under the impression that the "Montgomery" originated from the middle name of James Montgomery Doohan, now you know better.)
He had quite a life, my grandfather did, and lived to a very old age. I have an enormous picture of him, about four by four and a half feet, which was painted in Antwerp in 1853. People look at the year it was produced and assume he's my great-grandfather.
I thought it was rather apt to name Scotty for Montgomery, since the both of them had a taste for exploration in mighty sailing vessels. Of course, space was a bit out of reach for the original Montgomery. He set out to sea when he was sixteen and worked his way up to second mate.
A good thing he didn't achieve a higher rank faster than he did, because it might have cost him his life. For one voyage through the Indian Ocean turned into mutiny, resulting in the death of both the captain and the first mate. Montgomery quelled the mutiny, brought the ship home to Liverpool, and was given his master's certificate-a piece of paper certifying that he could captain a boat (which he was given on his next time out). Considering that Indian Ocean voyage, he'd certainly earned it. In fact, I still have the master's certificate, which gives me an idea of his age at the time of my mother's birth-seventy.
Yes, you read that right. Seventy.
Then again, he certainly had a lot of practice producing children. He had two wives and, God bless those sturdy women, twenty-five children between them-thirteen children by the first wife, twelve by the second. Most of the stress of child-rearing was left to his wives, considering he'd be gone six months at a time.
Finally, in order to accommodate his second wife, my grandmother, he bought her a pub in Ireland. From that point on, the children either worked at the pub or pursued other livelihoods.
My mother, Sarah Frances Montgomery, was one of the ones who didn't work in the pub. Sarah-called "Cissy" by everyone-grew into a beautiful, beautiful woman, with a well-proportioned face, a great nose and eyes (dark brown, good-sized eyebrows, not overdone or anything) and jet black hair. When she really got dressed up, she'd wear her hair all curled under. If you looked carefully, you could just make out the bottoms of her ears.
Sarah was a very religious woman; however, she decided to search out the religion she wanted. She started out a Presbyterian. She also went to the Salvation Army at one time, before deciding it wasn't really for her. Then she started going to Catholic churches, and she discovered that she wanted to know more. Eventually she decided that that was the church for her. That's probably where she met my father, William Patrick Doohan.
And, brother, she had a hell of a job with him.
As did I. For that matter, as did we all.
To be honest, difficulties with my father colored much of my early life, and perhaps more of my later life than is comfortable for me to think about.
William Patrick Doohan was nearly six feet tall, very wiry, and very, very intelligent. In fact, his intelligence worked against him when he wanted to become a trooper in World War 1. They wouldn't let him into the Irish militia (the militia being somewhat akin to the National Guard, an organized means of keeping citizens in readiness for possible combat) because he was considered too valuable on the civilian side. He was a pharmacist, a veterinarian, and a dentist. His interest in joining the militia was probably motivated by two things.
The first was the urge to escape from the life in which he was brought up. My paternal grandfather, Thomas Doohan, was the chief constable of Belfast up until 1917 and a very rigid disciplinarian, very strict with my father and his six siblings. As children, William and his younger brother, John, had to wash up outside the house, although their sisters could use the bathrooms inside. Imagine bathing outside in Belfast, in bitter, bitter cold water. It was possible to heat the water, but the air was still freezing during the frosty, six-month-long Belfast winter.
Plus, the situation in Belfast for Catholics was not a pleasant one. There was a little less of the anti-Catholic stuff while my father was growing up, but it was present nevertheless. The problem was that the British felt they had to keep the Irish under control. Three hundred years ago, the British had brought in Scottish settlers to the northern part of Ireland, hoping to control the Irish. But you can't control the Irish. Consequently, both my father and his younger brother, John, had to take back roads to and from school. This didn't spare them from being beaten up quite a number of times.
So putting distance between himself, Belfast, and his father was his first priority-and one with which I would, ironically, be able to sympathize in later years.
What was the second thing that motivated him to want to join the militia? Regretfully, it was because they had a private club where he could have gone and gotten drunk.
Because my father, you see, was an alcoholic. Indeed, in later years when he got angry, bordering on violent, he would say sharply that he was going to "go out to the officers' mess."
Since his not being allowed to join the army meant that he couldn't escape physically, he used the drink to escape mentally. And he kept on doing it, as you'll see. He just couldn't handle his own life, whatever it was, and allowed the drink to handle his life instead.
My father held down several jobs, working at a large pharmacy called Tate's. Then he went to his own drugstore (called a "chemist's shop" over there) and would do dental work as well, plus he'd fix animals in the backyard or travel around the county fixing cows and horses and everything else. It was around that time that my father (around twenty-five years old at the time) and mother got married.
In short order, they had my two older brothers, William and Thomas, and my older sister, Margaret. At the point when my mother was pregnant with me, the general situation in Belfast was deteriorating. My parents decided that it was time to get out. It was a terrible place to bring up children. Credit my father with that, at least. He didn't want his own children to experience as miserable an upbringing as he himself had had. If only he could have left his drinking behind in Belfast, then his family's life might have reached the ideal situation he was trying for.
My parents were split on where to go. My father preferred South Africa, because that was the new country, but my mother wanted to go to Vancouver, British Columbia, in Canada. Her sister Isabel-a small woman, about five one, whom we called Aunt Bell-lived there. Since I was in utero at the time, I wasn't exactly in on their conversations, but I know my mother convinced him that Canada was the place to go....
Posted September 5, 2011
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