Monday, February 1, 2016

Black History Month: The Real McCoy

We have all heard the expression "the real McCoy," but do you know where it came from? I didn't until I read this book:

The McCoy's lived in Canada after escaping slavery in the United States via the Underground Railroad. Elijah McCoy's parents felt strongly about educating their son. In fact, when Elijah was only 16, his parents sent him to Scotland to study mechanical engineering. While he was there, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and Elijah could go back to live in America as a free man.

However, this did not necessarily help him in finding a job. The only one he could get was as a fireman/oilman for the Michigan Central Railroad. But that didn't stop him. He wanted to find ways to make his job easier. He created and patented an oil cup to drip oil where it was needed. There were skeptics, but as soon as it was seen how successful his invention was, railroads wanted his invention. Others tried to duplicate his invention, but engineers wanted "the real McCoy." 

Elijah left the railroad to work on his inventions, but he worked as a mechanical consultant to several firms in Detroit...where he moved to from Ypsilanti. He designed many new devices and patented two or three a year.

In 1920, Elijah established his own company, The Elijah McCoy Manufacturing Company. A short time after establishing his company, he and his wife were in a traffic accident. His wife, Mary, died. Elijah was never the same. He was put in an infirmary where he died five years later.

His legacy of achievements remain with us today. Detroit celebrates Elijah McCoy Day and named a street in his honor. The "real McCoy" has come to mean perfection thanks to the work of Elijah McCoy.

This book can be used as a mentor text to illustrate the text structure of chronological order.