Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)


April 22, 2013

Tammie Hetzer-Womack: ‘Hopper’ girl knows town will bounce back: 04/22/13

ASHLAND — McGoff lineage has deep roots growing around Harvard Yard. They worship with Irish-Catholic conviction. Comb burnished red locks. Wicked love their town. It’s generational for Laurel McGoff.

You probably know the 18-year-old from the Dish Network Hopper ad campaign featuring those hysterical Boston guys. (“The Hoppah,” whatevah…)

She’s the teenager in the house with the traditional Southie accent. I know her. It’s no act.

She wouldn’t change her newly famous drawl for anything. She loves Boston’s diversity, townies, and grit. Laurel’s staying power is ingrained. Grandmother Alice McGoff was dogged. After courts commanded desegregation of Boston schools through forced busing across district lines in the 1970’s, the Irish-American woman protested.

The young widow’s labors, bringing up seven children near Bunker Hill, is chronicled in the bestseller, “Common Ground — A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families,” by J. Anthony Lukas. It’s on the reading list at many American colleges. Her story was later made into a movie.

It was a time of discord across working class Boston neighborhoods — police in combat gear, soothing hot tempers. A reminiscent scene faced the McGoff hometown last week. This time her son Tom McGoff was on the frontlines.

Raised by Alice, he clings to priorities — family and service to city. A federal Special Agent overseeing criminal intelligence investigations and homeland security, my friend Mr. McGoff worked persistently and intrepidly last week following the Boston Marathon terrorist attack. Sixteen-hour shifts. I prayed mercifully for safety.

On Friday, I got worried and reached out to his wife, Peggy. Their Medford neighborhood was locked-down in the epic manhunt. Her husband was summoned to work at 2 a.m. after a cop-killing, car-jacking and gunfight.

“They’re finding bomb devices throughout the area and we’re very scared.”

Laurel was beside her mom.

“The suspect or suspects haven’t been caught and they’re wreaking havoc on the inner city and surrounding suburbs of Boston,” she said. “I’m angry and scared and shocked, but I know Boston is a strong city and have complete faith in our law enforcement to capture all who are responsible.

“My sense of security is altered a little bit, but I refuse to give the men who set off the bombs what they want. They want us to be frightened and insecure about our safety; they want us to be terrified. I feel if we give them that, they win.”

Thoughts and condolences turn to Medford native, Krystal Campbell, 29, killed by evil blasts at the Boylston Street finish line. She speaks of an innocent 8-year-old and a bright Boston University student, both fallen victims. The 180 injured spectators, murdered MIT police officer, and seriously hurt MBTA cop.

Laurel’s best friends live in townhouses overlooking the Boston bombsite. Thankfully she wasn’t with them last Monday, a bloodstained Patriots Day.

“My friends endured the chaos and confusion of the random explosions while cheering on the runners. The first boom brought shock — the second boom brought fear as police and EMTs told everyone to turn back in the other direction and just run. There was speculation of a gas or electrical explosion in the first few minutes afterwards; but, my first instinct was terrorism, and, unfortunately, I was correct.”

Laurel loves downtown’s fresh seafood, Copley Square shopping, ice creameries, and theater district. It’s why she’s the Hopper girl.

“For me, the Hopper commercial is truly an ode to my city. People from Boston are funny and down-to-earth and that crazy well-known accent is something I love and am proud of,” she added. “It’s a city of loyalty and strength. Of course the people are known for being a little bit tough, but all because we take pride in where we come from.”

Her parents are proud of native Charlestown — share diehard love of sports and neighbors.

“Boston is known for being a tight community and we’re learning that’s the truth in the past couple of days,” said Peggy, right before Tom calls home. He says its eerie quiet.

A few hours later bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is captured. Mr. McGoff was there, boldly, till the end. It’s what momma taught — stay the course for Boston.

“I feel vindicated. It was a lot of hard work and I am very, very proud to be part of a dedicated team of federal, state and local law enforcement who worked tirelessly to bring to justice the individual or individuals involved. Boston is my hometown. I was born and raised here. I love my city and will continue every day to work to protect it as best as I can,” said Special Agent McGoff, encapsulating a tense week.

He was back to work at 6 a.m. Saturday. His sweet wife knows there’s much to do.

“Our city is very sad. But, Boston is strong and resilient and we will get through this,” she said.

TAMMIE HETZER-WOMACK is a freelance writer. Reach her at tammiewomack@roadrunner.com.

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