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July 11, 2011

A Small World, or Bob's Your Uncle

by Heather

Unknown Once upon a time, Florida had a governor named Bob Graham. My name is Graham, so that is rather cool. Now, I knew we weren't related--my dad and his family just came from Scotland while the Graham family that the Governor came from had been in the country--even in the South Florida area--for decades. But I really liked Governor Graham.

He was decisive. And my favorite stance he took was when the then-governor of 1076 Alabama wanted the Florida panhandle. Now sometimes it's true that the Florida panhandle is called South Alabama. And that's okay. We like our neighbors and it's delightful that Louisiana and Alabama friends come to the panhandle beaches. 

But it's our panhandle. To me, Florida is the amazing, quirky state that it is because we have areas that are so vastly different. The north of the state is Deep South, St. Augustine is the oldest city continually inhabited by European settlers in the Xmas_castle U.S., the center of the state is theme-park-ville and the south of the state has become completely international; Spanish is the dominant language, while you'll hear Brazilians who hail largely from mother Portugal, Slavic languages--we have a nice population of Russians--and the occasional German, French, and Italian.

We have the Keys, where you enter another world, and you have the west coast, and the magic of Sarasota and the Ringling mansion and so much more.

To get back to the point, it was rather an incident. The governor of Alabama really
wanted to panhandle. And Bob Graham was fierce in defending it.

We in Florida  58064-commissioner-co-chair-former-senator-bob-graham-gestures-dur
came together--no one is getting our panhandle!

So, to try to make a long story a bit shorter, I really liked this man, though I didn't know him. I thought he was great for my state, and I love my state. He went on to serve longer in politics.

When I would go to a restaurant, I never lied. But when people asked me if I was related I would try to pretend that I just didn't want to say so, or use our affiliation. I always got seated quickly, and people were so nice!

As I write this, I'm getting ready to leave Thrillerfest, an amazing experience all on its own. I got to "date" Harley Jane Kozak at the banquet where she was up for an award. I posed with R.L. Stein, Jon Land, and F. Paul Wilson with a smart car for Reading is Fundamental. 

Keys-To-The-Kingdom2 And I met Bob Graham. Yes, my favorite governor has now written a thriller. So, T-fest was a real thrill--Bob and I now have a picture together, and we have decided that surely, somehow, we are cousins! 

And what about you? Ever meet a stranger who shares your last name? And did you claim them or disown them?



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See, I DO date. I'm dating Heather.

And it was a lovely banquet and a fine Thrillerfest, and best of all was chatting up Senator/Governor Graham, who, thank God, shares my political party.

As for other Kozaks out there, they find their way to my website every now and then. My favorite was one Julio Kozak, who wrote that he's pretty sure he's my long lost . . . son.

Uh, I think I'd remember misplacing a child.

I almost met Bob Graham. Does that count? He's had so many interesting jobs, and now a writer. Fantastic!

I never met a stranger with my last name. I take that back. I've often met relatives, who were strangers to me, who shared my last name. They are surprisingly easy to spot. The men all look like my grandfather Harrington, and so do most of the women. Well, the women have hair. Fortunately I look like my French and Métis side.

One day in Boston I saw a woman waiting at the bus stop in front of Children's Hospital. I knew she was a Harrington, because she looked just like my father, and my grandfather, and my great-grandfather, and my second-great-grandfather. So I had no problem approaching her and her son, who also looked like my grandfather and the rest of them, except he still had hair. I asked her if she was a Harrington, and she said "Yes?" Questioning because, I am one and don't look it. So I told her who I was and she gave me a big hug, and said that she was really a Davis, but her mother was a Harrington.

Graham is a fairly common name, but since my family just hasn't been there that long, I know most of those with whom I share it aren't relatives! But, it is fun to think that way back, we might have been. Except, of course, that wayyyyy back, we don't know who was really doing what, so . . . I guess we're all related in that human sense! On the other hand, my husband has something like two hundred living aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, and so on, so Pozzesseres, Meros, D'Onofrios and so on are in the plenty.

I publish under the name 'Will Graham'... does that count???

I've met unrelated Pickerings, but no one influential or famous. My maiden name is Schubart. Never met one to whom I wasn't related . . . and that's because they were my father's siblings and offspring! :)

I'm excited to hear Sen. Graham has written a book and one that is a thriller! I met him when he was governor and I was a public health nurse in Leon Co. and gave him a couple of foreign travel immunizations. My maiden name is Campbell (another well known Scottish name) and I always wanted to be related the soup Campbell's but no such luck.

Will, I mean, seriously, of course all Grahams count! Wouldn't it be nice to discover you were a Campbell soup heiress? Piks, I have a lot of kids, but your folks created their own colony.

'heiress', Heather????? (laughing)

It's a running joke in the family: a couple of centuries back, the clan consisted of horse thieves, highwaymen, robbers, and assorted other crooks.

Now, we lay claim to three generations of FBI Agents, State Troopers, a cousin who retired from Scotland Yard, and a distant relative who was with La Sûreté Nationale until he passed away from a heart attack a few years back.

Funny how things change....:)

Small hijack (sorry, Heather!)

An interview with TLC's very own Mary Alice:


Gosh, Heather, you missed the single most wonderful thing about Florida, the ecological treasure called the Everglades. It's unique in all the world, and not nearly appreciated enough for its role in filtering water in Florida. And it occupies a pretty darned big chunk of land there.

Love that you and Bob are now buddies, and that Harley is finally getting a little action, however little that may be.

There was another Karen Maslowski, until she got married. We were both on Prodigy, back in the Dark Ages of the Internets, in about 1990. But we've never met in person.

And may I say, Happy Birthday, Mary Alice! What a nice present.

I can actually see how the panhandle would have made a big differeence to Alabama. Not that Florida should have given it up, but just saying.

I am actually related to a (now retired) NFL quarterback. When he started playing in college and made a name for himself, the rest of us in the family were just glad that he helped the world understand how to pronounce it!

Nancy, I'm guessing it wasn't "Martin" that the quarterback was educating the world about.

Well, with a name like Bandsma, you don't run into ones that aren't related. Rare name even in its country of origin...Netherlands, Friesland province.

I wish.

Although--and maybe you can explain this to me since it make NO SENSE at all.

People ask me--are you related to the actor Ryan Phillipe?

I mean--huh? How would that work?

My maiden name of Braden seems to have become an "in" first name. It tends to confuse my parents when they hear people calling out "Braden". They think someone is calling them when in fact they're calling little boys. My Braden ancestors came over the mountains from Carlisle, PA around 1780 and settled in what was to become Beaver County.

My married name is Pietsch. Can you guess how it's pronounced? Turns out all the Pietsch's in the world have come from one region in Germany so maybe somehow we're all related from back in the middle ages. My husbands branch of the family came to Altoona, PA around 1870, had a large family, then many of the children moved away. My husband's grandfather came to Pittsburgh in the early 20th century.

Here's a link to a site which can tell you the concentration across the world of your last name:

I've never met any non-related Braden's or Pietsch's, but I know they're out there somewhere.

Peach, likewise, it's very weird seeing my maiden name on the backs of people wearing football jerseys!

Going to check on Peach's concentration map now....

Well, in the post, yes, I did miss the Everglades! I don't in real life. I love the Everglades. We all head out to Shark Valley now and then, and I love visiting the Mikasuki villages, heading toward the north of the county and Broward and learning more about the Seminole as well. I never understand, either, how people buy houses built deeper and deeper in the 'Glades, and then seem indignant that they've got alligators in their canals. I do love the Glades more in winter--when we have fewer mosquitos!
I love unusual names! Actually, the one I get most often is people who think I'm the other Heather Graham, an inch shorter, hazel eyes instead of huge blue, and a few years on her, but it's okay--I thought the Hangover was hysterical!

Oh, Heather, you poor thing. I'd forgotten about the Other.

I like her work quite a bit, but I bet it's tiresome to describe yourself the way I describe you to people, as if your middle name is "the writer, not the actress."

My brother rather enjoys being "Google=proofed" by up and coming Ohio Senator Rob Portman. He is not even a distant relation, but does make finding information on my brother Bob, difficult. Given my SIL's first husband, this is a good thing.

My Grandfather David Portman stayed once at a hotel run by, David Portman. They traded letters from many years but never found any common relatives. Perhaps they were both the sons of Russian tailors, Portnoy is Russian for tailor.

There are two Buck families in St. Lou is broadcasting. Joe and Christine Buck are the children of legendary broadcaster Jack Buck. Julie Buck leaves her relationship to Jack Buck sort of open if she is asked.


Slager, my maiden name, we are all related somehow. Tanger, married name, unknown as father-in-law was an adopted only child; however, it came in handy once when a clerk at the Tanger Mall was giving me a hard time and I handed her a check to pay for my purchase. She blanched. Loved it.

Maiden name: Brown. Common as dirt, right? The only Browns I'm related to are my brother and his kids. For several generations back, only one son in each generation has produced a son. Go figure.

Heather, you're merely dating Harley. You've slept with others of us who are your friends.

People, people, minds out of the gutter. "Slept" as in actually sleeping / sharing of beds at conferences and family get-togethers. No hanky panky. Yeesh.

I'd never met another Stella to whom I wasn't related until a few years ago when I got called for jury duty in Key West. There was another Stella also called for the same case. The judge and trial lawyers wanted to make sure we weren't related.

Two of Paul McCartney's daughters are Mary and Stella.

There is also a Hotel Mary Stella in Italy that grabbed what should have been MY domain name years ago. Apparently that domain name is up for sale now but it would cost me a few thousand dollars. So, for the time being, I'll stick with www.mary-stella.com.

When I arrived in Inverness (CA), I was asked, "Are you a relative of J and M Gault?" No, although my stepmother is also the same name M Gault (her maiden and married name as she and my dad were first cousins).

And I'm sometimes asked if I am kin to Willie Gault. Not that I know of, but you never know.

Heather, I grew up going to school with Bee (William) Graham in Miami Springs. His family owned Graham Dairy which used to be all cow pastures. It is now all of Doral. I do believe it is his family that included the Governor.
Deringer with one R is the correct spelling for the German immigrant who worked in the gun industry and is in my blood line. The reporter who did the article for Lincoln's assassination spelled it with two R's in error and the little knock off guns swept through the West.
All the one R Deringers are related. I'm going to bet the concentration live in Virginia when I check the map!

The summer after I graduated high school, three friends and I took a trip to Daytona Beach. We found a lovely motel with a kitchenette so we could at least pretend to save money on meals. The drinking age was 18 (three of us having just turned 18 were thrilled) and we wanted a fridge to keep our beer nice & cold. On the second day we met 4 guys from Atlanta and sat around getting to know each other. We were in the guessing the last name phase when I was asked my last name. I said, “It is reasonably common where I come from and it starts with an M.” One of the guys (the one I thought was the cutest, lol) said, “Is it Meers?” I about dropped my teeth. Then I got kinda mad thinking someone had been in my purse. He pulled out his wallet and showed me his driver’s license. His last name was Meers, too. We were attached at the hip for the rest of the week and called each other “Cuz”. Great vacation!

I forget whose page it was on, but during the course of discussions on an author page another 'Mundy' posted. Hmmmmmm.... We laughed about it. I know that part of the family was from the south and the dust bowl region (great-grandfather or gg was actually a photo during the time in Natl Geographic I think).

We just had our family reunion, on my mom's side. As my great-aunt just passed last week, her son brought boxes of all her old photos. And boy, do I mean OLD! 1800's, on tin through this year. This, on top of my mom going through the book of the Schaeffer/Schmidt/??? family history back to the 1700's. At least I found some evidence that I was a very cute munchkin... :)

Holly Gault, do people ever ask you, "Who is John Gault?"

I grew UP on that panhandle. Redneck Riviera, and yes we called in L.A. (for Lower Alabama.)

I just got back from vacationing on its sugary beaches as we do every year...which is why I haven't been here. I am sunburned and full of crustaceans.

Harley, they do, but it was, "Who is John Galt?"

Back in the 1970's there was an old, rusty-red, egg-shaped Volvo running around Santa Barbara with "Who is John Galt?" written in white script across the back.

I know there are a lot of folks back east with the same last name as me but I haven't ever met them.

I do have an Uncle Bob . . .

Alan - any relation to Natalie Portman???

Now I have to go look up - who is John Gault.

Bob Graham should be so lucky to be related to your family. You guys are so much fun and you are so close. I love that. And my maiden name was Mongiello, not many of those around. When my Great Grandfather came over he came with five brothers, whom we never saw again. So imagine my surprise to find a Mary Mongiello and wonder, are we related? Hmmmmm.

My married name, Gorton, means I'm often asked if I'm related to the Gorton fisherman. I wish. Since my husband's grandfather changed it from Goldberg (or Goldman?), I really have no idea if we have relations in the US or not.

My maiden name was Broader, but pronounced to rhyme with road, not with broad. I don't think there are very many of them, but my father was the youngest of 11 kids and grew up in an orphanage, so he didn't even know a lot of his older siblings. I believe he knew the boys, though.

My mother was a Collins, whose parents both came over on the boat from Ireland. Both the US and Ireland are probably crawling with relatives I don't know. However, she is under the impression she is related to Michael Collins, of the movie. Who knows?

Natalie Portman

Interestingly, Natalie Portman is a stage name for an Israeli born actress. I do have cousins in Israel. No one yet has said she is a cuz. Downside, no movie passes. Upside, I can enjoy the bikini pics without the yuk factor of checking out a cousins boobs.

I thought Bob Graham was a great governor. Heather, you should have talked him into running for that office again. We could really use him now. And never forget that the Panhandle is also known as the Redneck Riviera.

I found out recently that there is a Duke of Risk somewhere in England. Too bad we can't claim him as relative and we don't know if he needs heirs.

Alan, Jack Buck fathered eight children by two wives. I'm sure I heard him claim Julie as one of his by his first wife.

Ahha. A rose by any other name . . . .
Neither Heather Graham the actress or I actually have the domain. Someone did the same, Mary, and thus I am eheathergraham.com or theoriginalheathergraham.com. (I wish she was the original, but alas!

That's nice he's written a book. I'd rather he return to Tallahassee. We need him as governor again.

There's another Mary Garrett in St. Charles -- we have to be alert at the library, pharmacy, doctor's office to properly identify ourselves (though my favorite library aide told me, "As far as I'm concerned, you are the ONLY Mary Garrett." We aren't related, but I recently learned that she's the aunt of a storytelling friend.

I forgot a funny story. My late ex husband and our son and grandfather and great grandfather are named William Piquette.
The middle name was different. So one time I went to pick up a script for my son and came home with his grandfather's hemorrhoid creme.
AND the most exasperating horror story of them all...the Social Security office person put in the computer that my son had died instead of his father.
I spent 6 months getting that straightened out.

Ah! I now need to show this post to Bob Graham, and tell him, hey, think you write and run for governor again? We'd really appreciated it!

No one shares my last name via physical relatedness, since my dad was adopted, and I've kept his adoptive last name, meaning I'm not related to any of those who call me and ask if I'm their long-lost cousin. Sort of an interesting way to be unique in the world.

On the other hand, Laraine Newman and Laraine Day both spelled their first names the way my dad chose to spell mine. Yaaay.

Today I'm occasionally asked if I'm related to Sam. Twenty plus years ago every single person I was introduced to asked if I was related to John Boy. Every one. Like they thought it was original. Other than my father's brothers' families, I haven't met another Walton that I'm related to. However, my grandmother was an avid family tree-er and I am actually related to both Richard Gere and Dick Van Dyke. Fourteen generations of cousins separate us, but hey...

Your headline definitely got my attention. Why? Because Bob Graham IS my uncle! In fact, just had dinner with him last night here in Seattle where I live. He was here doing some promotion for his book and also some board work for one of the organizations on which he sits. I'm admittedly biased, but he's truly a wonderful man. I'm proud to be called Graham (my mother's maiden name) and equally proud that our youngest son is named Robert, named after his special Great Uncle.

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