My dad finally told me the story behind my name about a month before he passed away. I think I believe it.
I was born late in the afternoon on 03 January 1947. My mother and father had had a fight on the morning that I was born. They weren’t throwing punches or anything; they were throwing words and apparently some feelings were hurt/damaged. He refused to tell me what the fight was about but I would suspect it was something to do with food. They always fought about food. Eventually they divorced over food, after the great “Pot Roast Debacle of 1963” but I’ve already written about that.
“This is overdone, it’s mushy!” one of them would say.
“No, that’s how it’s supposed to be!”
“Too much salt.”
“Chilies? Where are the goddamn chilies?”
“I’m not even going to ask what this is supposed to be; I’m going for a hamburger.”
“Huh uh, you eat it! I’m not going to!”
I won’t beat this dead horse any longer, you get the idea.
Anyway, I was born slightly after five pm that afternoon. It was dark outside and it was before fathers were allowed in delivery rooms so my dad spent the time sitting in a waiting room staring at his reflection in the darkened window, drinking unpalatable coffee from the 50 cup percolator, that had sat there all day, and chain smoking Raleigh’s. He saved the coupons.
When they finally came out and told him that the ordeal was done he was pretty seriously hyped up on caffeine and nicotine but he followed the orderly down to fill in the paperwork, as requested. One of the forms they handed him was my birth certificate. Dutifully he wrote his name as father, and filled in my mom’s name to complete the “parented by” section. He got to the blank where he was supposed to write my name… hmm? They had previously agreed on a name for me but he was thinking about that fight earlier in the day. The agreed name was unceremoniously tossed aside and I was festooned with the grandiose middle names of my two grandfathers.
My maternal grandfather, had been killed when my mom was a teenager. His name had been Lawrence Ephraim Brock. Ephraim was penned neatly, in all caps, into the blank space.
My paternal grandfather was still very much alive and he hated his middle name. He hated it so much that my uncle’s middle name is Junior because Grandpa refused to saddle anyone with his name and Grandma wanted a son she could call Junior. My uncle was Harry Junior Kerr, and my grandfather was Harry McCool Kerr. The animosity that my grandfather felt for the name McCool was clearly not something my dad thought much about when he wrote McCool, in neat block letters, behind Ephraim on my birth certificate.
My grandpa was pretty upset about my middle name and for the rest of his life he continued to remind my father of this simple fact, but on that day, my dad was only thinking about the fight and getting even, or getting ahead, as my mother lay sleeping in her recovery room five floors above.
I guess he showed her! My name is Ephraim McCool Kerr, and I’m happy to meet you.
You can call me Mac.