I seem to have more of a contempt for my late maternal grandfather’s mother the more that I understand about her, at least wherein her bubbe meises are concerned. The three bubbe meises that really (forgive my language) piss me off (as if “shit” wasn’t language for which I might need to ask forgiveness):
1. That we’re of the “Dark Irish”
2. [Not excerpted here]
3. That my grandaunt Kas had polio
The real stories are the following, respectively:
We’re Portuguese Irish, and likely even Sephardic Jewish and Irish. Nana Allen’s maternal grandfather was a “John McCoy”, and probably an Anusi—and “McCoy” was certainly not his own name, as he is not buried in the McCoy Family Plot in Baltimore’s New Cathedral Cemetery. As for how he immigrated to Ireland, my grandaunt Bernadette “Bern” Allen Dew (z”l) stated that “He fled a war in Spain”—which I found out after I saw the Census record that read “Spain” and “Ireland” for the respective birthplaces of Nana Allen’s maternal grandparents, the parents of the Rosalita “Rose” (or “Rosa”) McCoy Reilly whose 1900 Census record lists the “Spain” and “Ireland” in question for her parents’ birthplaces. As for the “war in Spain”—as “John McCoy”’s 1850 Census record helped me to research—that war was the Peninsular War, from which he as a Lisboa-born infant fled with his parents to Ireland.
About three decades after he immigrated to Ireland as a war refugee—and almost certainly an Anusi one at that—he immigrated to the United States as—as far as I know—an immigrant. By 1850, he had been married to MaryAnn Elizabeth née McCoy for at least eight to ten years and had the following children:
1. John, Jr.
2. MaryAnn Elizabeth, Jr. (whom, per a record of her second husband’s family history, told the bubbe meise that her mother was born “Mary Dolan”)
He seems to have named the first two children per minhag Sephardi—after all, the first son was named for his father, and the first daughter was named for her mother (and apparently got a flair for spreading bubbe meises from—ironically—her, as the 1880 Census Record for a “Rose Riley” lists both of Mrs. “Riley”’s parents as having been in Ireland—and even while the 1880 Census record for MaryAnn’s and Rose’s sister Lavinia lists them as having been born in Maryland.)
Then he had four more children, and a nasty divorce to boot about six years after the youngest one was born. While I don’t know the exact circumstances of the divorce, I know—as I said—that he is certainly not buried in the McCoy Family Plot in New Cathedral Cemetery, and that his wife told the Census taker that she was a widowed mother of four daughters as of 1870.
By 1880, he had a grandchild whom proved that his Sephardish Yidishkeit was still around and alive within the family, even though he apparently hadn’t been around or alive since 1870—his daughter Rosalita had a daughter whom she named “Ann(e)”, and his ex-wife and his daughter’s in-law mother both went by “Ann(e)”. Then he had more grandchildren by Rosalita with a mark to prove that no real Catholicism was to be found as far as he was concerned: after all, none of the granddaughters carried “Mary” or any variant thereof for either a first name or otherwise as an honorific for the mother of Jesus.
Even Alice Marie Reilly named none of her daughters “Mary” or any variant thereof insofar as the prénom d’honorifique de la Virginé is concerned—the first names of her daughters were “Marguerite” (since her in-law mother was Margaret Conley Allen—and I’m now realizing where her Sephardish Yiddishkeit showed up in that regard, if I hadn’t already realized it a little bit), “Katherine”, “Bernadette”, and “Dolores”.
(Per JewishGen, by the way and although JewishGen covers mostly Ashkenazi Jewish communities, “Marguerite” and “Katherine”—and variants thereof—were used among Jews; and as one rabbi told me when I asked if naming Reilly for Nana Allen and her mother was permissible in Jewish tradition, “There are no rules for such a thing. You may name your pet anything you like.” Also, Ariela Pelaia of ThoughtCo—formerly About.Com—captures what I’ve generally read regarding both Hebrew and Non-Hebrew names when she states, “[T]here is no hard and fast rule when it comes to giving your child a Hebrew name.”
(Also by the way, Sephardic Jewish girls will sometimes be named after living grandparents as opposed to living parents—the minhag varies in that regard.)
As far as Alice Marie’s sisters, they were (besides Anne—z”l—whom died at the age of seven or eight):
2. Sara—not “Catherine”, but “Sara Catherine” (and contrary to what Mom claims, “Sara” is not a common Catholic name—or at least too common of one—as it would arouse suspicions, especially in a family in which the first girl is not named “Mary”)
4. Agnes—whom later became “Sister Mary Rosalita Reilly”
By the way, Alice Marie’s first son was Edgar Joseph, for his father and distinguished as “Edgar Joseph Eymard”—and I’m now really beginning to see the Sepharidish Yiddishkeit (or “Sefardishkeit” or even “Ladinokeit”— and I’m going to assume that I coined those despite I can’t say that I made those up—after all, “Sefardish” and “Ladino” were long around before I was, and making “Sefardishkeit” from “Sefardish” and “Yiddishkeit” is simply just making a compound word that can be used to describe the Yiddishkeit of Sephardim in Yiddish.
(Also by the way, I’m pretty sure that this is at least part of why my maternal grandfather took an interest in Yiddish, although he was—even if he didn’t know that he was—reasonably ascertainably a matrilineally-Jewish grandson of a patrilineally-Jewish bat Anusim—and his widow, my maternal grandmother, is my maternal grandparent whom is of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage.)
Meanwhile, this alone (as I’m now realizing) helps to explain why I thoroughly and even defensively explain quite a bit of what I explain—as if getting called “an overall liar” at Sheppard Pratt by a caseworker whom fell for my father’s lies about me wasn’t enough, having Nana Allen throw her younger children and their descendants for a loop really affected me to start laying out every detail of quite a few cases once I found out about being thrown for such a loop—and as if many of my matriarchs and patriarchs on Dad’s side didn’t do enough loop throwing, todah rabah (and their loop throwing was more understandable than her loop throwing, as—as I later read—the Inquisition ended in 1834, whereas increasing Anti Semitism still affects many of my paternal relatives loathe to admit that we’re Jewish—even to the point at which one relative is trying to paint me as an overall liar in regard to what my father’s maternal grandmother did, and notwithstanding that I can neither help what happened or conjure up evidence to fit the narrative of what he wants to believe what happened.
(Incidentally, that will—God willing—probably end up in More Shit And Other Stuff That I Can’t Make Up—after all, just typing all of this after a partly-mental-illness-affected hiatus from writing has affected my mental illnesses to flare up.)
This one probably pisses me off the most. Despite articles that discuss the Irish Catholic “shame” of the Kennedys regarding Rosemary Kennedy (with “shame” being the word that the Kennedys themselves used), Nana Allen—who herself identified as a strong Irish Catholic—still has no excuse for lying about Grandaunt Kas’ Cerebral Palsy.
The story still goes that Grandaunt Kas contracted polio when she was seven or eight—this despite that she wasn’t going to have time to contract polio in the midst of the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918 and the Rheumatic Heart Fever Epidemic of 1923-1925 or thereabouts. Rheumatic Heart Fever is what actually killed Grandaunt Dolores, whom died on January 25, 1923, by the way (and as for where I got the 1925 date, Great-Granddad Czarnecki’s sister Regina died of Chorea due to Rheumatic Heart Fever on June 23, 1925).
Grandaunt Kas was born on November 6, 1911, and Grandaunt Bern somehow remembered that Grandaunt Dolores died in the Spanish Flu Epidemic. Either way, no way was Grandaunt Kas going to be going anywhere where she could contract polio—she was probably as housebound when the Spanish Flu hit the Allen household as much as all of the Allen children were when Rheumatic Heart Fever hit the Allen household. The more that I thought about that, then, the more that I had to conclude that Nana Allen told another bubbe meise—even my grandmother at first said that she didn’t know for sure, and that Nana Allen had “a lot of stories”.
1. Mild Cerebral Palsy can become worse after illnesses such as the flu and Rheumatic Heart Fever—and with illnesses that can cause fevers, you’re messing with illnesses that can cause some serious brain damage. So either way, Grandaunt Kas either had exacerbated Cerebral Palsy after the Spanish Flu Epidemic or she had a fever that effected brain damage and resulting Cerebral Palsy.
2. The person whom told me that Grandaunt Kas had Cerebral Palsy, he would have no reason to lie—he worked for her when he and my mother were in high school, and she could tell a kid like him what she wouldn’t have dared to tell peers of hers or quite a few people within her own family!
That would also explain the real reason that Grandaunt Kas turned down three marriage proposals—not because she wanted to be single and independent, but because she was afraid that each of her suitors would run if they found out what she really had—and I can tell you that because I’ve lived being both implicitly and explicitly rejected by peers of mine due to my Cerebral Palsy.