Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Catherine Lendrum McKenna, left, and Catherine McKenna Kane
Catherine is my middle name and I am the granddaughter, daughter, mother, and grandmother of Catherines. Since we women lose our surnames in the tapestry of the generations, I think it's nice to have the repeating motif of a given name threading through.

This photograph was taken, possibly on Mother's Day, in the early 1940s. My grandmother would have been about 70 and my mother, the last of the eleven children she gave birth to, in her mid-20s.

Joan Catherine Kane, left, and Catherine McKenna Kane

In the photo to the right, probably taken at Easter of that year (my mother, you notice, is wearing the same hat) I am not quite two. We were living in East Flatbush then.

Joan Catherine Kane Nichols, left, and Catherine Nichols

Dazzled by the light. My oldest daughter and I the day of her college graduation, some 30 or so years ago.

The wheel turns. The last of the Catherines (so far). My oldest granddaughter and I, the day she received her MFA. Like the two Catherines is the first photo, one in her 70s and one mid-20s.
Emma Catherine Lazarus, left, and Joan Catherine Kane Nichols

Thursday, May 9, 2013


As I creep (vault seems more like it) toward the only deadline worthy of the name, it occurs to me there aren't many left in the family who can identify the faces of the people in old family photographs or can remember their stories. So I've started this thread to contribute what I know.

My facts may be wrong. Many stories were passed down to me from my father, who was his mother's youngest child and her willing listener, as I was his. Lots of room for mistakes there. So, please, anyone who can correct my facts, or has different versions of these stories, or different stories altogether, let me know.

This photograph, taken sometime in the 1930s, shows my grandmother, Anna Egan Kane, and my cousin Vera, her granddaughter. As far as I know, my grandmother had ten children, not necessarily in this order--Mae, Anna, Thomas, Francis, Leticia, Elizabeth, Charles, Joseph, and two Andrews, both of whom died young.

My grandfather wanted a son named Andrew, after his grandfather, an early Union organizer. When the first little Andrew died, he gave the name to the next boy, then when he died wanted to pass it on to the next, my father. "Oh no," said my grandmother. Not that she was superstitious, but there was no point tempting fate. "This child is mine. I'll name him." And so my father became Joseph, not Andrew 3.