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Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Call Me “Mister”

By Marc Leavitt of Marc Leavitt's Blog

What’s a name?

That seems like a question with an easy answer: A name is what you call a person, place or thing.

But what happens when you start out with one name and end up with another?

I started out with Morris and ended up with Marc. Everyone who knows me has always called me Mar. But, you ask, “You said your name is also Morris. What’s that all about?”

Jewish children are often named after deceased relatives; in my case, Great-grandfather Morris who died four years before my birth.

My mother never liked the name Morris and decided to change it to Marc, neglecting to change it on the birth certificate and that’s where the confusion started.

If you saw me on the street and called, “Hi, Morris,” you’d think I was stuck up or hard of hearing because I wouldn’t respond: It’s not my name.

But it’s still on my birth certificate so I’m Morris on every legal document I own from my Social Security card to my drivers license to my military records and my Medicare card.

At this stage of the game it seems like too much bother to hire a lawyer. I’m used to explaining the confusion to strangers; in fact, I don’t even mind anymore. It gives us something to talk about besides the weather.

Until we get to know one another, you can call me Mr. Leavitt.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Well, Mr. Leavitt, you have opened a hornet's nest of memories! My mother was named after an aunt. When the aunt and my grandmother argued, my mother's name was changed, but never recorded. I love the stories, we are all products of strange name changes! Thanks a bunch!

As one Jew to another, I fully understand the conundrum. My father was born Abraham Solomon but became Albert S or just plain Al all his life. My mother was born Margaret Lillian, but was never anything but Margy and although I am born Arlene, I was known as Donna because my baby brother heard me called 'prima donna' when he was learning to speak. And so it became. Luckily, I got my identity back, but my childhood friends still call me Donna.

I was married to a Jewish man-turned Presbyterian. He served in WWII for 4 years and while bright and college-educated, he never was promoted in all that time. When he returned,he and his sister changed their last names. On paper it probably mitigated discrimination, but he managed to hang on to his unique personality.

I never liked my middle name, Frances. It could also be a boy's name. I dropped that name and went by Mary, my first name. However that wasn't so good with my last name, Smith. When I married my husband, Hersh, I became Hertslet, dropping the name, Smith. At last I had a name I loved.

Now, Hersh, of course, is not his real name. It's Clement Townsend Hertslet III. Sir Edward Hertslet was his great grandfather and a historic figure in England's history, during the time of Queen Victoria. Sir Edward was the Queen's head librarian and wrote treaties and made maps for Queen Victoria and was Knighted. Much has been written about these Hertslets.

Just think, I could have been Mary Smith all my life.:)

Names can get very complicated. Especially for women.I use my given first name (which is spelled wrong on my birth certificate) and the last name of my ex-husband and our son. When I married again last year, I chose to keep the name by which I've been known personally and professionally for over 40 years.

My family members also have a list of aliases. My dad legally changed his name from Earl Monroe to Monroe Earl Simpson so his monogram would spell MES....which he was. I didn't know my brother Butch was a junior until I was 13 years old. My first name is Danise but I wouldn't know who you were talking to if called that because I've been Dani my whole life....or Doodle Bug, or Dynamo....or

When I was baptized my Mother wanted to call me Nancy but the priest in her parish said she had to call me by a Saint's name and there was no St. Nancy.

They decided to call me Ann so that is what I was baptized and how I was known at church and at Catholic school, but everyone else called me Nancy.

It made for a lot of confusion (And still does). I once asked my Mother why she didn't say Nancy when she filled out the papers for the State and just leave Ann for the religious part.

She was horrified that I would suggest that, and screamed," Oh, I couldn't do that. Suppose the Pope found out."

I love family names..My brother was a William Edwin Hayes III, my dad was Bud as his dad was Bill. I couldn't say brother (I was 4)..it came out Buzzer so my brother, now 66 is still Buzz.

I disliked my name-I was named after Eleanor Roosevelt and told Eleanor Roosevelt wouldn't act like that all the time-she was my moms hero. I changed my name in Jr High to Ellen, which was also a disliked sister in laws first name so my mom said she'd call me Elle..Which she pronounced Ellie. I think she saw Elle on the magazine and decided it would be a good nickname-she simply didn't speak french.
So to go along with my French nickname, she named my sister Janea'ne
which was how she spelled Janine. That name misspelled with the ' in the wrong place has now been passed down 2 more generations..to my daughter and her daughter.

People are weird.
Glad to meat you Morris..you can call me Eleanor because I'm old enough to appreciate the name

One of my friends always lists his name in directories as Matthew Morris, because he has been known by both names throughout the years. Must ask him if he also experienced a "family member" naming.

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