Saturday, November 26, 2011

Your correspondent suffers an identity crisis, of sorts.

My wife is a genealogy buff, and has made enthusiastic use of the resources of For the past month or so, she's been doing research on her mother's family. Her mom was the daughter of Newfoundlanders who emigrated to the North Shore of Massachusetts early in the past century, along with many who came to work in the fisheries at Gloucester or the General Electric plant at Lynn--"the G.E.", as my wife always calls it.

Recently, though, following a visit to my mother's home in Florida, she turned her attention to my family tree. Thanks to her initial research, I can now add Tennessee, birthplace of my great grandmother Sarah Napier Scales, to the list of states in which I have ancestral roots. The others are Indiana (birthplace of my father and his parents), Pennsylvania (birthplace of my mother, her mother, and her mother's parents), California (birthplace of my maternal grandfather), Illinois and Missouri (birthplaces of my maternal grandfather's father and mother, respectively).

What's caused the identity crisis is that her research also showed that my paternal grandfather's name was Claude Marion Scales, not Claude Moreland Scales. I've always given my full name, when asked, as Claude Moreland Scales, III.* Indeed, that's what's on my birth certificate, which identifies my dad as Claude Moreland Scales, Jr., the name he always, to my knowledge, used. But if Grand-dad, a kindly man whose only words I can recall, probably from the last time I saw him when I was about twelve, were, "That boy's growin' like a weed", had Marion as his middle name, then dad wasn't a "Jr." and I'm a "Jr." not a "III." Not that I'm planning to go to court and have this rectified; it would only cause bureaucratic angst arising from the fact that my now deceased father and I are both military veterans and my still living mother receives survivor's benefits in his name, and so on. Anyway, I've been "III" for over 65 years now, so it's become one of those mistakes that, because of the passage of time, is cured. Still, it's a bit troubling to know I was sailing under false colors all those years.

*Having a Roman three at the end of my name has sometimes caused confusion to mechanical scanners. Devices that read addresses sometimes pick it up as my surname, turning the second two characters to the lower-case "i"; thus "Iii." I once received a letter from a company that offered, for some money, to give me the history of the Iii family, along with an illustration of its coat of arms. I was strongly tempted to send my check.