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Author George McAvoy selling copies of his latest book, My Father, A Silent Film Pioneer in front of Topic of the Town Restaurant last week. Art McGrath/Littleton Courier. (click for larger version)
July 25, 2012
LITTLETON—He may be 92 but that hasn't stopped George McAvoy from writing and publishing his third book, this one about the father he doesn't remember.

It also hasn't stopped him from working hard to get it into the hands of readers and he spent much of this past week in a chair in front of the Topic of the Town restaurant selling copies of it and talking to people about his books.

The book is called My Father, A Silent Films Pioneer and is about his father, Henry McAvoy, who died at the age of 35 in 1920 when George was only three months old.

"My mother never talked about him," McAvoy said. "I guess it was too painful."

She did, however, save everything she could concerning his film career, material she gave to her three sons. George is the youngest sibling and the only one still alive.

When he was going through the pictures and articles and various other memorabilia George didn't know what to do with it.

"I wasn't sure. Keep it, take it to the dump, or what," McAvoy said.

Ultimately, he decided to write a book.

Being an author was nothing new to him. In the early 1990s he wrote a book about the Grand Hotels of the White Mountains, followed by another book that has become well known in the area, a Citizen Soldier Remembers, 1942-1946: 149th Armored Signal Company of the 9th Armored Division, which is about his experiences in World War II.

When McAvoy dived into the material his mother left him he discovered much he did not know, he said.

The elder McAvoy worked for Fox Film Corporation from 1915 until his death in 1920, which was located in Fort Lee, N.J., which was then the center of the film industry, George said, Friday. Henry was the location manager for the company, traveling around the country looking for locations to film movies, which at the time were all silent films. Location filming was quite difficult in those days and McAvoy's book is full of pictures from some of the films his father worked on.

The elder McAvoy died in an explosion at his father's garage where he was storing dynamite for the studio. No one knows exactly what happened.

"It's funny but if my father hadn't been killed I sometimes joke I might have been Mickey Rooney's playmate," George said.

McAvoy has long been an institution in the area. After moving to the area in the late 1940s, right after the war, he ran Thayer's Inn for 20 years as well as the Crawford House, a large hotel at the top of Crawford Notch where the Appalachian Mountain Club's Highland Center is located.

Since the Crawford House burned down he has remained busy, including his late career as an author. From the beginning he used a word processor and a computer, never a typewriter. While he likes the writing he really loves the research and discovering new things, he said.

"I like being able to get the evidence and have it stand up," McAvoy said.

The historical material for the book will be donated to Fox Film Company, if they want it, McAvoy said.

His new book can be bought online at Amazon.com, his own website, silentfilmspioneer.com or directly from McAvoy.

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