Wednesday, October 13, 2021

How Quickly We Forget

1.  Can you name this once famous New York Yankee hitter?

 I was shocked when I read that most people do not know their grandmother's maiden name.  Part of that may be attributable to the fact that today families scatter, not necessarily finding employment in the community, or even in the same state, where they were raised.  It remains customary for wives to take the surname of their husbands, but wives today are less likely to forego their given names to become a  Mrs. John Jones rather than Mrs. Mary Jones, using their own given name.  As an attorney, I sometimes had to prepare affidavits for women who had signed documents as Mrs. John Jones and who later needed to prove that Mary Jones was the one and only Mrs. John Jones, especially for women who survived their husbands and were left with no 'legal' name of their own.

For those doing genealogy research, it is often difficult to trace female ancestors because their maiden names disappeared at the time of their marriage.  If you wander through old cemeteries you will frequently find headstones of a woman engraved as Mrs. John Jones, providing you not only with no maiden name but also no given name.  In our region, where settlers sometimes moved on, the death of a young wife buried at a grave site at which no other family member was buried, provides no clue to who she was, and some of those headstones actually read, "Wife of John Jones," further ignoring her as a person.

2.  Remember this singer whose daughter also became a singer/songwriter?

You might try a simple test out of curiosity by asking a grandchild what his or her grandmother's maiden name is.  Surveys have shown that the majority will be unable to provide an answer, especially in today's world where families do not always remain in the same community of their parents and grandparents. 

However, it is not just family names that we forget.  Fame can be a fleeting thing.  If you were a sports fan who knew the names of every player the year they won the title, how many of those million dollar players can you name today?  Can you name the player at the beginning of this blog?   

If you were determined to get to the poles to vote in an important Presidential election a few decades ago, can you remember that name of his running mate, whether or not your candidate won?   

3.  This movie won 4 Academy Awards.  Can you remember the year and what the awards were?

If you and your sweetheart had a special song, or a movie that you saw together, what was the song or the movie called?  

History also falls victim to short memories.  My book, Prairie Bachelor, The Story of a Kansas Homesteader and the Populist Movement is about the era that created the People's Party, the most successful 3rd Party in American history.  Yet, many people living today, even in the region where the party was so successful and even if their ancestors participated in the movement, have never heard of that once famous political event.

Mark Twain said, 'History doesn't repeat itself but it often rhymes.'  I'm not sure what the moral to this story is intended to be...whether I want you to realize that sometimes things that seem tragically monumental will gradually be overcome, or whether I am disappointed by how quickly we forget things that deserve to be remembered, things from which we could learn beneficial lessons.

Maybe both can be true.

Answers to the quiz  images:

1.  Bobby Richardson was the best hitter for the New York Yankees in 1962 when they won the World Series.  He had a lifetime 266 batting average, with 1,432 hits and 390 RBI.

2.  The wonderful Nat King Cole was popular from the 1940s into the 1960s, and his daughter, Natalie Cole achieved her own success.  With the help of technology, they recorded a duet that topped the charts in 1991, 20 years after his death.  Natalie died in 2015.

3. "Ordinary People" won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screen Play, and Best Supporting Actor in 1980.  Robert Redford won as Best Director with his Directorial Debut, and Timothy Hutton won best Supporting Actor as the young son.  

1 comment:

The Blog Fodder said...

This is an awesome post.

How can people not know their grandmother's maiden name? Have they no interest? I knew her bother and a sister-in-law, my mom's cousins and many of my second cousins. We didn't truly scatter until after Highschool. Same with my dad's mother though her brother and sisters were scattered and I did not know too many of my second cousins. My kids certainly know their grandmothers' maiden names.

I did not get the baseball player but my son would have. Nor the movie as I never saw it. I did get Nat King Cole and Natalie. Also the song my late wife and I called ours. Olivia Newton John, Let Me Be There.