52 Ancestors – #25 – "How Did I Get My Name?"

Continuing my goal of documenting my generation’s story, this week I am attempting to tell the story of some of the names in our family. Five years ago, I posted about the “Winchester Tradition” in Scott’s family. For several generations, all the children were given the middle name of “Winchester” to honor a beloved stepmother. Scott and a few of his siblings continued the tradition with their children. Our daughter Caitlin and her husband added a new generation by naming their first son Jack Winchester.

The prompt for this week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge is “Same Name.” That’s an easy one to respond to. We chose to name our second daughter  Meghan. The name was already “taken” by Scott’s niece but we had a very good reason to also use it. It appeared that our Meghan-to-be would be born very close to “Big” Meghan’s birthday, September 6. Plus, I loved the name, Meghan. In 1989 I still thought I was Irish and loved all things Irish. Our two daughters would be Caitlin and Meghan. Nice Irish-sounding names, right? (I have since discovered I don’t have a drop of Irish blood. But – the girls do, so THAT COUNTS!!)


Scott and I checked in with his sister, Jeanne who okayed our request. And all was well. My due date was August 25. Pretty close to September 6. August 25th came and went. As did August 26. And the 27th. Nice hot summer. Bad plan. (Not that there was a plan!) Soon August was in my rear-view mirror. “Hang in there,” the doctor said. “Remember, you were 12 days late with your first child.” Not something you say to an overdue preggo who has a four-year-old to entertain during the hottest days of the year. September 3 and 4 go by. On September 5, it was decided I should get induced, The only thing keeping me going was the thought that the two Meghans would be 20 years and one day apart. Cool. But – nope. Nothing much happened on the 5th. Finally, on the 6th, things started moving along. “Wow!,” I thought. “They will be exactly 20 years apart!” Noon on the 6th – no “little Meghan.” 6 p.m. No “little Meghan.” I was getting pretty cranky by then. I distinctly remember asking for a Caesarean section. My request went something like this: JUST GIVE ME THE KNIFE AND I’LL DO IT MYSELF!! Scott talked me off the ledge, 

MEGHAN WINCHESTER HOLMAN (yup – Winchester) was born on September 6 at 11:37 p.m. Just 23 minutes to spare – but she did it!! (And, I knew what I was talking about – she was born by Caesarean section. Why don’t the doctors listen??)

“Little” Meghan – 1989

She and her older cousin have always shared a special bond – same name, same birthday. Even more special, years later, when “big” Meghan had her twins, “little” Meghan stayed at their home and helped with newest additions to our family. To this day, “big” Meghan’s kids refer to our daughter as “Little Miss Meg”

“Big” Meghan’s twins
Ring Bearer and Flower Girl at
“Little” Meghan’s wedding
The two Meghans – 2013
 “Little” Meghan is on the left.

Caitlin – 1986

Scott and I explored several names for our first child. Alicia and Ryan were top contenders. One night we were watching Airwolf, a mid-80s TV show starring Jan-Michael Vincent and Ernest Borgnine. Another character on the show was a woman helicopter pilot named Caitlin. Good Irish name, I thought. Not too common either. Unlike my name! We settled on Caitlin for the first name and chose Rose for the middle name, to honor my maternal grandmother. But then, our good friends had their daughter and named her Caitlin Rose. UGH. So, we chose Elizabeth – it sounded good and was the name of my youngest sister. So there were two Caitlins in our circle of friends – that was okay. But…I guess Airwolf was a pretty popular show. Caitlin became the Debbie of the 1980s. Sorry, kid! We thought we were being original!

My passport photo – July 1955

Pretty simple tale here, I was named Deborah after my mother’s best friend, Debbie. She chose my middle name – Joan – “…because it just sounded good.” If I had been a boy, I would have been named David. Deborah and David – good Jewish names and “not common at all” in the 1950s. (Did the sarcasm come through on that??) Just one story about my name. I never knew how to really pronounce it. Was it “Deb-OR-ah” or “DEB-or-ah.” A few years before my mother passed away, I finally asked what the proper pronunciation was. Mom’s response? “How the hell should I know?” Gotta love her!!                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                    JEANNE CAROL
Jeanne with cousin Pam Margand – 1956
Sorry, Jeanne. I have no idea how your name was determined. You would have been a David, but you were a girl. If it helps, your is the only Hebrew name I know: Shaina Carmel. (Well, I do know mine: It’s Deborah!) 



Clytemnestra Katharine Anne – 1961
My parents’ third daughter is named Katharine Anne. Kathy, if you ever feel like your name is boring, perhaps it will help to know you dodged a bullet.  Our father was a professor of Greek and Classical literature. He had a very strong idea of what he would like to name his third daughter: Clytemnestra. Mom said no. She won.

ERBS – 1964ish

Elizabeth Rose Byk. My youngest sister has two middle names. Why? My guess is that it was a compromise. Perhaps my mother decided to give in on that one because she definitely won the naming of the previous child. My mother got Rose in honor in of her mother. My father got Byk in honor of his beloved grandmother, Estelle Byk Kesner.

                MY BROTHER, DEAN

THE DEAN – 1964

My mother’s humor came through again in 1964 when my brother was born. After four girls, my mother finally got her boy. She had to marry a new guy to get a boy, but…whatever. So – did she name him David? Nope! My baby brother was named Dean Laurence. Why Dean? Well – there are two stories here. My brother said he was named after Dean Martin, a fave of his Dad’s. I forget what the Laurence was for. My mom told me she named him
Dean because she was afraid that would be the only title he would have in life. My mother had a lot of faith in us.

Sadly, we have no idea how Scott got his name. The Winchester middle name was a given. I asked his sister who said their parents just liked the name. 
Do you know how you got your name? If not, try to find out. There’s probably a good story there!

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