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RONDA RICH: Truth more fascinating than fiction

Ronda Rich

Ronda Rich

Several weeks ago, I wrote about moonshine runner-turned-stockcar champion, Lloyd Seay, who was murdered in a dispute over sugar purchased to make illegal whiskey.

It’s a funny thing about history. It can be so doggone fascinating, much more so than anything that the human mind can imagine.

My husband and I both dabble in fiction. We create stories and attempt to make them so riveting that an audience is captivated to follow the plot as it unfolds. But the truth is that the world abounds with real stories that are more remarkable than anything that a mind, either one that is ordinary or beyond extraordinary, can spin.

Tink and I have found that bit of truth in the diaries of his ancestor, Charlie Tinker, while I have discovered that in the family history of that good-looking, daring Seay boy who died when he was only 21 yet he had led quite a robust life. The way that I look at it, his life was filled with such twists and turns that a two-hour movie couldn’t hold it. Oh, no. It’d be a mini-series for sure.

You may recall from that column that Lloyd’s brother, Jim, was there when he was shot down and was, in fact, wounded himself. Their cousin, Woodrow, shot him, a fact that neither he nor Jim ever disputed.

The tale of two quite different testimonies came over whether it was cold-blooded murder or self-defense. Jim, understandably missing his fallen brother, named his son after him — Lloyd Seay, II.

“What’s in a name?” some may ask. In that name — Lloyd Seay — it was murder. From one generation to another.

In the neck of the woods where I grew up (northeast Georgia), I heard my parents and others speak occasionally of the district attorney in a neighboring county who had been “blown up” in his car. In his driveway. Within feet of his wife and children.

Floyd Hoard, went the story, was killed by the lawless. For close to 30 years, I heard old-timers mention the Floyd Hoard murder and those remembrances always felt like the true definition of Southern Gothic.

Then, a few years back, Jim Whitmer, a cherished friend, was telling a story of a case he once handled as an attorney. He mentioned Lloyd Seay.

I was puzzled. “Lloyd Seay? The moonshiner? He was killed before you were even born.”

Jim shook his head. “No. Must be another. This one was convicted in the murder of Floyd Hoard.”

I blinked hard. “The district attorney in Jackson County? Whose car was bombed?”

It’s difficult to believe but a true story. The young man, not quite to majority, had helped place the bomb under Hoard’s car. Along with three others, he was convicted in the murder and served 15 years or so. He never met the uncle for whom he was named yet he had found a similar path of rebellion.

Several months ago, I ran across a book called “Alone Among The Living,” one of the most powerful titles I have ever heard. It was written by Richard Hoard, the son of the man killed in the explosion. I ordered the book.

One Friday afternoon, I picked it up and did not put it down until I finished it on Saturday evening. I even held a flashlight and read it deep into the night while Tink slept.

“I’ve never seen you so taken with a book,” he said.

“It’s mesmerizing,” I replied.

It’s a remarkable book because it tells the story of his father’s murder through his 15-year-old eyes and then recounts his next two difficult years. Hoard, now a pastor, wrote a coming-of-age book that rivals any classic work of fiction. I was so moved that I tracked down Rev. Hoard to express my admiration.

Whatever happened to Lloyd Seay II? He, too, was murdered.

That, I guess, is a story for another day.

Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of “There’s A Better Day A-Comin’.” Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her weekly newsletter. Contact her at southswomen@bellsouth.net.