While posting and commenting recently with a blogger I follow, she mentioned that her mother’s name was Marion. Not too many of us out there spelling it with an “o” instead of an “a.” Those who spell it with an “o” are usually men. One in particular, John Wayne, whose name was Marion! He was one of my favorite actors even when I was a youngster. So I was reminded of how I came to be named Marion. There was a story connected to the baptism, mother tells the story like this.
My family grew up Catholic and my sisters and I also went to Catholic school, graduating from there. So of course we were baptized in the Catholic Church. A few weeks after I was born, mother planned a Christening for me, which she did for each one of us kids. A Christening was a party with food, drinks, the works and all the relatives attending, or at least the ones that mother was speaking to at the time. The baby was usually taken to the church by the Godparents, both Godfather and Godmother, with the mother also going if she was up to it and as an afterthought, the father.
Well, mother had a two-year old at home and she was not completely recovered from the childbirth. So only the Godparents and father went to the church with the baby to be baptized. The party would be held later in the day, lasting sometimes into the wee hours, depending how long the keg lasted. Mother and baby would be asleep long before the party ended. As little group arrived at the church, the Godmother, who was one of my mother’s sisters, yelled out;
“I don’t remember what her name is to be,” she shouted.
“What?” gasped the Godfather and father in unison.
“Do you know?” she yelled at father.
“No,” he yelled back. “I am only the father, how should I know? She was supposed to be a boy anyway.”
So the Godparents and father went into a huddle to try to figure out what to do as the priest waited nervously at the church door.
Most people in those days did not have phones and we were numbered among them. So calling mother was out. The baby started fussing and everyone was getting agitated.
Out of nowhere the Godmother came up with an idea. She said, “Well I like Marion Davies, how about we call her Marion? I don’t think Kate will mind. What do you both think?” The two men agreed. Anything to get the show on the road.
Kate was my mother and as it turns out she did mind but by the time she found out, it was too late. Marion Davies was a famous movie star of the day and also a mistress to Wm. Randolph Hearst, the newspaper publisher and big shot of that time. So the little group went into the church and proceeded to get the baptism over with. So “Marion” it was!
When we arrived home and broke the news to mother, she told everyone that I was to be named Rita, which was my father’s sister’s name. She also told father in no uncertain terms that she was not happy about the mix up. However, as far as I was concerned, I certainly did not like the name Rita, much preferring Marion and can’t imagine having any other name.