Thursday, July 10, 2008


It's weird the random things that trigger stories. I was sitting at my computer with my Uncle Myles, helping him look at auction listings for movie lobby cards. Myles has a pretty big collection of lobby cards and movie posters from the 1930's and 1940's. I think he has every lobby card that Cary Grant ever appeared in. Myles doesn't have a computer or email - in fact he still types on a manual typewriter - so sometimes he comes over to my house to check out online auctions. After we were done looking at the lobby card listings, he wanted me to search for an image of Francis X. Bushman, a silent screen star who was in the original "Ben Hur." I've vaguely heard the name, but am not really familiar with the actor. One of the ebay listings had a photo of Francis with one of his children. The ebay seller had listed some biographical information and part of the info detailed his marriage to actress Beverly Bayne. So we're reading this info and Myles casually says to me, "Oh that's the actress your Mom was named for." What????? I had never heard this story before. My Mom always told me a lot of stories but somehow this story had never emerged. What makes this story even more significant to me is that I was also named for an actress, or rather a part played by one. My Mom had a few female names she tossed around before I was born. Even though there was no way to determine a baby's gender when I was born, my Mom just knew she was going to have a girl. Her top name choices were Madeline, Valerie, and Lydia (my Mom was in a bowling league with a Lydia and liked the name). I think Madeline was tossed out because my Mom didn't like the idea of me being nicknamed Mad or Maddie. Valerie was eliminated because with my Dad's Austrian/German accent, he would have pronounced it "Walerie." And my Mom thought (erroneously) that no one would take Lydia and shorten it into a nickname - all of you who call me "Lyd" can stop laughing now. But it wasn't until I was born and my Uncle Myles saw me in the hospital and saw my exotic eyes and looks that he told her that she just had to name me Lydia, inspired by my resemblance to exotic film star Merle Oberon who played the title role "Lydia" in a 1941 United Artists film.

Here's a lobby card from "Lydia" that my Uncle gave me a few years ago. I love the tagline, "If I can't have all there is of love...I don't want any." I pretty much agree!!! But this is the part that cracks me up, under "Lydia" it says - "A Free Woman" - I guess a pretty big statement for 1941.

So the movies have obviously had a big impact on my family's life. I always knew about my connection, but learning about my Mom's was really neat too. My Uncle Myles is really the last connection to my Mom's history and my Maternal side of the family. That's a good thing and also kind of scary too. He's in his mid 70's and won't be around forever. I wonder what other nuggets I can unearth in completely random ways.

Here's my Mom and Myles in a Polaroid Joycam shot.

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