WYSO

Book Nook: Truevine - Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest, by Beth Macy

Dec 4, 2017

Try to imagine that your two young sons were out working in the tobacco field one day and that they never came home. They had vanished and you had no idea what had happened to them. This happened to a mother in Virginia over a century ago. The two missing boys had been taken away to be paraded around the country as freaks in a circus side show. In those days before television and radio the circus was the the most popular entertainment to be found in little towns and hamlets across America. And there was a high demand for unusual people who could be exhibited as freaks for the entertainment of the masses. Circuses had gigantic people and tiny people in their troupes. There were ladies with beards and unfortunate souls who possessed other distinctive and unusual characteristics.

George and Willie Muse, the missing brothers, had skin pigmentation which made them stand out in a crowd. The boys were African-American and had been born with albinism. Their condition made them an appealing target for the freak hunters and that is apparently what happened to them. They were literally enslaved and forced to perform in a circus side show. Beth Macy had to dig deep to uncover the incredible story of these boys who disappeared and the mother who never gave up searching for them in "Truevine - Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest: a True Story of the Jim Crow South."

Macy is a native of Urbana and she has had a long career as an investigative reporter. During her days as a journalist in Roanoke, Virginia she was aware of the Muse Brothers story and she knew it was probably the most interesting tale that she could ever find in the region but she had little success in reporting on it. Years later she decided to try to delve into their history once again. The result is a fascinating and shocking and heartwarming saga that absolutely calls out for an adaptation into a movie. The book has been optioned for a film treatment. In this interview the author describes how difficult it was to research the history of George and Willie. She also talked about her next book which will be published in 2018. The tentative title is "Dope Sick" and it will focus on the opioid crisis and how it has impacted some communities in Virginia.

The Book Nook on WYSO is made possible by five local library systems in southwest Ohio: the Greene County Public Library,  Washington-Centerville Public Library,  Clark County Public LibraryDayton Metro Library, and Wright Memorial Public Library.