WHAT’S IN A NAME? Today’s challenge asks you to tell the story of your name? Do you know it, many do but just as many don’t. If you have a family story, fine. If you don’t also fine for in some families the story was that it was one name the parents or at least one parent liked. That is a story in itself and I think had a message that allowed the child to make his or her own story around his name. So what is the story given to you or made by you of your name?
This is a topic I suggested to the Daily Post, so my head has swelled a bit with pride.
I often asked this question as an ice-breaker during the first session of a class or at the start of a work shop. I always asked people to share loved or hated nicknames and finally. their current preferred name. This type of ice-breather gets people sharing about themselves and that creates some intimacy and trust.
I always shared my name’s story to model what you could learn by asking someone for the story of their. So here is mine and it coincides with my planned Mother’s Day post which was to honor my mother. Read on to learn why the two go together.
The picture above is her Senior Year Picture, she attended Friend’s Central High School in Philadelphia, PA. She was probably eighteen when this picture was taken for she married my father when she was nineteen. They eloped as he didn’t measure up to her family’s standard of a good match. Apparently, my grandfather believed one should be a lawyer or if a woman marry a lawyer. My mother wanted to go to art school, he would have paid for her to become a lawyer, but not an artist.
My father was what would be called a journalist today, and what has become a more prestigious job. Back then he was a newspaper reporter and that was considered a low class job particularly by my mother’s family. This does relate to the story of my name, but first the story of my mother’s name.
Her full name was Katherine Vaughan Broomall Gordy. I never knew why she was named Katherine, her mother’s family was from Ireland and there may have been a Katherine or two in that part of the family tree. Sadly, the family tree I have is patriarchal as was the custom in the US until the Women’s Libration made some headway on acknowledge matriarchs. I do know or think I do that the Vaughan in my mother’s name was for a family friend.
As was and for some culture’s remains true today, sons were more prized. In my mother’s family the pattern was to name first son’s for their fathers and in this family that tradition went back four generations. John Martin Broomall, John M. Broomall, II, John M. Broomall, III, and my uncle John, John M. Broomall, IV. My mother produced two sons, but the men in the family produced only girls. One of my mother’s sister-in-laws attributed the failure of her marriage to the fact that she produced only daughters.
My maternal grandmother started a two generation tradition of naming daughters for their mothers. I knew my grandmother as Nona, her preferred name as a grandmother; her name, however, was Margaret Crummer Hamilton Broomall. Nona claimed at times to be related to Alexander Hamilton and at other times to be a Lady Hamilton from across the ocean and no relation to that well known bastard and son of a Jewish. My mother was Nona’s third child and second daughter, daughter number one was named Margaret, this Margaret also named her first daughter Margaret.
My mother followed this short lived family tradition and named me Katherine Vaughan Gordy. Katherine means pure, Vaughan means little, Gordy is a nickname for Gordon and Gordon like Broomall is a place name. So I am a pure small place. My mother was called Kitty most of her life and always wanted to be called Vaughan, so for the first 22 years of my life I was known as Vaughan and hated it.
Parenting tip: Children should never be given really unusual names and particularly if a girl a name that is known mainly as a boy’s name. Same thing applies to boys. Do not give a boy a name that is mostly known as a girl’s name. Finally, don’t change the spelling.
Any of you remember Vaughn Monroe? Racing with the Moon was his hit song. And notice that he spelled Vaughn with out the han. I hated having to introduce myself. Most people thought I was saying fawn or dawn. If I spelled it out for people, many pronounced it Vau-han. Sigh.
The only nickname I recall attached to Vaughan was Scrawnie Vaughanie–My Uncle John called me that. I did garner a few other nicknames during my life. My mother’s father called me Billie Nye, not that I remember, He died when I was three. Apparently I was bald until I was almost four. Billy Nye was a movie star who was also bald. I didn’t mind that nick-name.
My father sometimes called me Katy–mostly in connection with singing the song “K-K-K-Katy, my beautiful K-K-K-Katy, you’re the only g-g-g-girl I adore. When the m-m-m-moon shines over the cow shed m-m-m-met me by the k-k-k-kitchen door.” Only wanted my father to use that nick-name. When I entered graduate school, my name tag at the meeting and greeting session said Kathy and Kathy I became and I was delighted.
David bestowed the nick-name Chrysanthemum on me shortly after we met and that became the basis of my Hebrew name Dahlia.
When I turned 50 I decided Kathy was a petite blond cheerleader type and started asking people to call me Katherine. Now I would like that shortened to Kat, and have tried to be known by my grandchldren as Grannykat. Hasn’t worked with the oldest grandson–I’m Grandma. Might stand a chance with the youngest one, but suspect it won’t happen.
So this has been a long story of my name and a therapist might read identity conflict into it. Let them. What’s in a name anyway? As I joke often, “Call me anything, but not late for dessert.”