Most people have not heard of the name Vered. So, in response to Madeline’s question about its origins:
- My great grandmother, Rose, was one of the many who fled the pogroms of the Ukraine (and Russia) at the turn of the century. Her family lived in Kiev, and when she was still a girl, the pogroms became too much. Her family spoke Russian, but mostly, Yiddish was the language they conversed in. As my dad likes to say, “They were like the family in Fiddler on the Roof” except they weren’t peasants – at least pictures of them in Kiev don’t show them wearing peasant clothes (and they had access to a camera!). They ended up at Ellis Island, experienced the last name change tradition, and suddenly their last name was Comroe. Her family settled in Philadelphia, and she eventually married a man who became a welder/plumber and who died in an accident when a spark hit a gas can in his garage and blew up.
- I knew her when she lived in Miami Beach. In fact, she lived there, by herself, well into her ’80s when the crime became too much. Still, my memories of helping my father move her out of her apartment suggest that she wasn’t eager to leave. She still walked to the grocery store by herself, did her own cooking, and took care of herself. A diet of chicken fat, liver, and traditional Russian food made her quite strong. She moved in with her daughter, my dad’s mother, in Kendall, and I don’t recall that being a friendly roommate situation. I do remember finding her Russian/English dictionary in a back room. While she still spoke perfect Russian and Yiddish, she hardly had an accent.
- If you asked her: “Gram, how are you?” Her reply would be: “I’m like a cow. I eat and I sleep.” Her other favorite expression was: “Wear it well.”
- Vered is the Hebrew word for Rose (Shoshana is a more popular word for the flower). All the names we came up with for a boy or a girl were Hebrew names.
- As for Magnolia….Jenny had her heart set on the name Saffron for a long time…but Saffron Rice is about as good as Chicken N or Wild. Then she turned to flowers, and then, by some strange luck of fate since she doesn’t listen to the Grateful Dead, she chose Magnolia.
- Before we settled on Hebrew names, I had considered naming a girl “Big Momma.” Straight to the nickname. That way, I imagined her life destined to be one as a blues singer. I also liked the idea of a six year old girl answering role call in school. “Big Momma? Big Momma Rice?” And a little voice calling out from the back…..”Here!”