Margaret C. Murray was born in Pittsburgh, PA and graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University with a B.A. and a M.A. from Hunter College. She attended the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center on an American Federation of the Arts fellowship and the Squaw Valley Screenwriters Conference on a National Endowment for the Arts grant. She has been a college teacher and technical writer and lives in the Bay Area. She is the owner of WriteWords Press.
From the Author
I like to play, laugh, and read and I’m working on another book.
I was born in Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA on a hillside above the Monongahela River, and named for both my grandmothers. My name pleases me as well as the names Mercy and Monongahela. “In the Indian tongue the name of this river was Mechmenawungihilla . . . which signifies a high bank, which is ever washed out and therefore collapses. ” –Wikipedia. The image of a merciful river always washing out the high banks describes a kind of life I can embrace.
My ancestors were dairy farmers, bricklayers, and steel workers, Irish Catholic to the core. I’ve always been proud that I was “pure” Irish which strikes me as funny. (This is meant to be ironical, an example of black Irish humor which I grew up with.)
I’ve been told that the day of my birth was cold and sunny, with patches of snow on the ground. It was January after all. At noon, my mother in early labor and my dad walked four blocks to their car parked in a garage. They seldom used the 1941 Plymouth as it was impossible to buy gasoline during the war.
I was born in late afternoon but, as hospital policies dictated, my mother was put to sleep for the birth and I didn’t meet my parents until the next morning. According to my mother, when the nun brought me in, she said, “There are 25 babies in this nursery and yours cries the loudest.”
My mother was mortified. When she took me in her arms, she noticed a tiny hole in the blue blanket I was wrapped in. My little finger was sticking through the hole. Was I exploring? Pointing out the blanket’s imperfections? Embarrassing her on purpose? None of the above?
Three years later my sister, Mary Pat, was born and my life expanded. I learned to play harder and better, to laugh at most anything and to keep my tears to myself. I immersed myself in stories. I loved to read and yearned to write books.
In time I became a writer and teacher, attending Carnegie-Mellon University and Hunter College. In my early 20s, I was honored to be invited to the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and was the recipient of an American Federation of the Arts Scholarship. Later I received a National Endowment grant to attend the Squaw Valley Screen Writers Workshop. I am the mother of three children and two grandchildren and for many years have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area.