Marlow & Maryn, just last weekend when you visited your Pop-pop and me, you looked at all of the old family photographs and asked us to tell you who all of the people are.
Your pictures are the most recent on the table of photographs you were admiring, as you are the most recent generation of our family. But as you saw, there is lots of family that came before you, only some of whom you know.
You were named in remembrance of two people we loved very, very much from a generation that has passed, and we want you to know all about them!
Marlow, you were named for Pop-pop's mother, Mary.
And Maryn, you were named for my father, Mark, who passed away not long before you were born. He was the original Pop-pop in our family. Did you know that?
Mary Wesoky was born in Bayonne, NJ on March 14, 1900.
Both of her parents were immigrants from Russia -- Minsk, we think. They arrived in NYC around 1890 and married on the Lower East Side in 1897.
Mary was the second child. Eventually she would have three brothers and two sisters. They grew up mostly in Pittsburgh, which is where your Pop-pop was born and grew up, too.
And that's why Pop-pop has that funny accent and can't pronounce your names properly!
She came from a very large, close-knit family. Besides her five siblings, she had dozens of cousins and throughout her life she traveled all over the country to visit them.
She was active in the Hepps Family Club (yes, once there was one!) and the synagogue. She did a lot to support Israel and even traveled there to meet with the Prime Minister.
(Her husband, Jacob, was your Mommy's namesake.)
Though she passed away when your Mommy was very young, we remember her through the funny stories your Pop-pop loves to tell about her.
Like the time she let the bird out of its cage for a walk! She took the police seriously when they said she should sit at the top of the hill in the park and call, "Herman! Herman!" until it returned.
Or the time she woke everyone up at midnight and made them return to the dinner table to eat the green beans she had forgotten to serve.
(But actually, she was a smart and successful businesswoman, which was very rare in her day!)
Marlow, already you show so much love for family and religion just like your namesake. And you're a great big sister just like her, too!
You're also very silly, though perhaps not in quite the same way as her!
Max Davis was born in Philadelphia on September 4, 1916.
His father was born in New York City, but his mother immigrated from Zhitomir, Russia probably around 1912.
He grew up as an only child. His mother poured everything she had into raising him.
Max was a child prodigy on the violin. He took classes at the Settlement Music School, founded in 1908 specially for children of poor immigrants.
In the culture Tillie came from, having a son who was a violinst was as prestigious as a doctor or a lawyer!
As his yearbook shows, it was his dream to play for the Philadelphia Orchestra. He auditioned for Leopold Stokowski, the famous conductor, who said he was very talented, but he should come back after he graduated high school.
Unfortunately, he graduated during the Great Depression and had to go to work immediately. What do you think he did?
He became a professional violinist, of course!
He founded his own band and played speakeasies in Philadelphia and Atlantic City.
Eventually he was noticed by the most prominent people in the city and began to play high society parties. That is why he changed his name from Max to Mark. There was a lot of anti-Semitism in those days, and one of his famous clients thought it would be better if he didn't have a Jewish-sounding name.
For almost seven decades, he played parties all over the world for his famous clients. And, of course, he played all the weddings and B'nai Mitzvahs for his own community. We were proud that he was written up in the society pages almost every weekend. But what we remember most is that he always left everyone with smiles on their faces.
Especially within our family my father was the life of the party. He fiddled for all your mother and Tante Tammy's early birthday parties.
He was loving and generous to the extreme. When I lived by myself in Philadelphia before I got married, he left dinner for me in my apartment. When he would take your mother and Tante Tammy out for dinner, he would buy them flowers.
He was also very emotional! You'll see in lots of pictures of him from happy family occasions he is wearing sunglasses because he didn't want people to see that he was crying.
Maryn, we were heartbroken when my father died in May 2010. But when you came along you brought so much joy with you!
Your huge spirit and unflagging energy remind us of your great-grandfather. You always leave us with smiles on our faces, too!
So, Marlow and Maryn, now when people ask about your unique names, you can tell them about the unique people whose memory you are keeping alive!
May your lives be as long and happy as theirs.