Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added)
is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.
--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Youmans - Spitzer connection

Poet William Harmon gets the grandest kind of a prize for being the very first person to drop me a note about my young music-minded cousin who has just hit the big time under her professional name of "Kristen": "In 2006, Ms. Dupré changed her legal name, according to records in Monmouth County Superior Court, from Ashley R. Youmans to Ashley Rae Maika DiPietro, taking her stepfather’s surname since she regarded him as 'the only father I have known.' But in . . . interview, she referred to herself as Ashley Alexandra Dupré, which is how she is known on MySpace" (The New York Times March 13, 2008). The just and jolly reward for dropping me a line on this important political matter of forbidden fruit will be an immediate name change from "William Harmon" to "Billy Rae Taylor D'Anunnzio," with alternate monikers of "Jonesie" and "Brandyn."

Billy Rae has expressed the thought that life is a lot more lively in New York than back home in the Carolinas. The North Carolina governor is downright boring "except for 30 mins. a year when he drives around a NASCAR track." Perhaps we can fax him Eliot Spitzer, who is terribly available this morning. Client-9. Kristin. Let's hope they can stand the excitement of their lives. Maybe even hope for a smidge of redemption and a scrap of good sense. As a dyed-in-the-cotton Southerner raised to be riddled with guilt, I have a hard time smacking anybody. Besides, Randall Jarrell told us all, "You know what I was, / You see what I am: change me, change me!" (“The Woman at the Washington Zoo.”) Of course, the context was a bit different.

Is "Kristin" of "Kristin and Client-9" related to me? I suppose so, since it's said that people in the U. S. who bear the name of Yeoman(s) or Youman(s) are all descended from four brothers who sailed to New York before the Revolution. Three (including my direct ancestor) skedaddled to Georgia, but one dug in where he landed. Evidently his branch was doing very well in the nineteenth century, but perhaps some of them have come on hard times since. By the Depression, most of mine had had their skinny Georgia butts vigorously kicked by history.

My husband, having read the Times and The Drudge Report over breakfast, suggested that I tart up a good nom de plume. I'm working on it, now that I've finished laboring over Billy Rae's reward. And Mike reminded me about all the mightly hordes of people who will be googling the young was-Youmans and discovering their passion for poetry and novels . . .

Now ain't that a thought?
***
Photograph credit: I've wrested this piece of forbidden fruit from the pictorial tree by permission of http://www.sxc.hu/ and J. G. or "LittleMan" of Belgium. Seems as though we all have at least two names today . . .

21 comments:

  1. Ha I remeber we talked about Nom de plumes at NCCAT. I remember you thought up one for Carrie if she decided to write bodice rippers, but no one thought of one for you. I must give this some thought.

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  2. I wonder what it was? Carrie would remember--she remembers hilarious things from high school that I've completely forgotten.

    Yes, any suggestions considered!

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  3. Wow...who woulda thunk? It is curious what connections are possible via Google...we can only hope, i suppose.

    As for a nom de plume blossoming out of this connection...i can only offer this: My silly friends, around the dinner table one evening, said the way to pick a name if one aspires to be a stripper is to first take the name of your first pet, then the name of the street that you live on. But this obviously doesn't always generate the desired new name. For instance, i, a female, would become "Scottie Perkins" which i don't think is the least bit titillatingly. And perhaps it tells me i have no career as a stripper. Phew...i was really worried.

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  4. Oh, I'm probably almost as closely related to you or anybody else who stops by!

    My first cat was "Smokey Joe." I wonder what my street was when I had him, back in Baton Rouge. Don't remember...

    Off to drudge: dinner party coming up, and there's no school tomorrow.

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  5. And there I was thinking it was some fantasy land you were off in when you mentioned it over at mine.
    Youmans seems a bit unusual, are you sure she's not a relation you know of? Anyway, I'm sure you could put your gift for fiction to good use pretending she was and selling the story?

    The pet/ street name stripper name works surprisingly often; mine was Blackie Gossoms, which I rather like, if I was a fiction writer I might make a character of it anyway...

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  6. No doubt she is a relation: just distant. That stubborn brother who wouldn't go to Georgia... Perhaps he was prescient!

    Lucy,

    I dunno, Blackie Glossoms is a great name. Maybe it will inspire fiction. Or a poem. Or maybe you spend a day doing your photographs from the point of view of Blackie Glossoms.

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  7. I laughed out loud about the guilt part. That was so funny.

    I think it was cute about hubby telling you people will be googling the name and get hooked on poetry. Maybe she will google her name and want to put some of your poetry to music. THat would be cool. Then I would have to learn how to play it on my accordion, after learning Down by the Sally Gardens ofcourse.

    that apple picture is lush like luscious lip gloss!

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  8. It may be funny to you, Miss Susanna, but for those of us broiled and flittering in the fires of guilt, well! A different matter!

    So you haven't learned "Down by the Salley Gardens" yet? Fie, fie, Miss!

    That's a hilarious but fearsome idea. But there seem to be a good many arty Youmans men and women. There is a science fiction writer, a children's book writer--and of course there's the great Vincent.

    Billy Rae Taylor D'Annunzio aka William Harmon just reminded me about Vincent Youmans: "Tea for Two may be the greatest song ever composed by an American (and cf. Shostakovich's "Tahiti Trot")--lyrics by Irving Caesar."

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  9. Is "Down by the Salley Gardens" a relative - distant or otherwise - of the modal-key tune "Sally in the Garden"? That used to be my favorite banjo tune when I was a kid.

    I though of you when I read about that prostitute. (Uh, wait, that doesn't sound too good, does it?) I guess what got me was the idea that someone making $4,000 an hour would have a MySpace page. For shame!

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  10. Down By The Salley Gardens (Irish: Gort na Saileán) is a traditional Irish song. Sometimes known as "An Traigh Mughdhorna", "The Maids of Mourne Shore" and "The Mourne Shore", it can be sung in either English or Irish.

    It is sometimes listed as a poem by William Butler Yeats, after the words were included in a book of his poems, The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems, published in 1889. However, the case is that Yeats published the poem as a tribute to oral tradition; it was based on a fragment of a song he recalled hearing an old Irish woman sing. Yeats' noted that This is an attempt to reconstruct an old song from three lines imperfectly remembered by an old peasant woman in the village of Ballysodare, Sligo, who often sings them to herself. The verse was subsequently set to music by Herbert Hughes to the air The Maids of the Mourne Shore in 1909. There is also a vocal setting by the poet and composer Ivor Gurney, which was published in 1938.

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  11. Hey Dave--

    Cute, very cute. Yes, if only you had a myspace page, you could have friended the poor lass and introduced her to some nice, thoughtful, sky-combing trees!

    I'll let Wiki answer the question...

    Hope your blog is de-spam-botted. Shall go see on Monday. Just now I have been drudging and am off to the sleep of the just, or the sleep of the drudges. Between now and then: many events. I'll come stare at one of those trees after the last dinner party.

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  12. I've got a friend who also recalls stuff I forget....sometimes I think her imagination runs riot... but then perhaps not!

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  13. Jan,

    I suppose it's good that those lost pieces of us exist in somebody's memory. When I taught at NCCAT (as Donna remembers), Carrie remembered a lot of funny and sassy things that I did--some of which came back to me. I'm afraid that I have jettisoned large portions of my past... I'm always relieved when somebody else under 90 forgets such things. I may be crazy, but I'm not alone.

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  14. Good to hear about your roots, I got lost with the ugger bugger!

    (So sorry Marley, put it down to my spelling and terrible sense of humour!)

    Still not online yet, the basic site is now done.

    The really exciting news is that my elder daughter's man has landed a publisher for his book and is now maddly working on the next. It's a novel and due out in about a years time.

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  15. Robert,

    Oh, confetti to your son-in-law! It's very nice for your gang of sculptors and painters to let in a scribbler...

    I don't know if other people's ancestors are so very interesting. The coverage of this incident seems very unattractive from what I've seen--since I don't watch t.v., I'm sure that I have only the vaguest idea, too.

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  16. Your naming system would make me Lassie Stirling. Sounds like a young teenage detective or a dog trainer, not a stripper.

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  17. Robbi,

    Lassie Stirling is a young girl Nancy Drew will meet on an adventure in Scotland.

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  18. When I saw that name I guessed you were related. Youmans of the world, unite! Thank you for the most lovely things you wrote about me on that Artful Parent website, dear Marly. I went around with my head in the clouds for hours after reading it.

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  19. Hey Laura--

    Unite... I'll think about that one!

    It was all the bare truth with not one fleck of moonshine.

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  20. Oh How funny! I googled my mother's maiden name & I got you! I had no idea about the Elliot Spitzer fame though! My Grandfather was a Youmans. I had been told that the name was actually Jewish! I find it VERY interesting about the four men who started "our" clan. My grandfather was born in Cincinnati, Oh. I would love to learn more!

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  21. Hi there--

    No, it's very, very English. A yeoman was a small freeholder. It's also a name for a bowman. But there are African-American "Yeomans" and "Youmans" descendants as well.

    I just imagine that you are descended from the brother who didn't go to Georgia (wise man!), since you are up north. Of course, I am too, but I came from down south. That brother seems to have done very well--there was a "Youmans Mansion" that was torn down in Delhi, New York some years ago. I saw two Yeomans graves near Mark Twain's grave in Elmira...

    I think several of my cousins have done some genealogy work for that side of my family, but it probably wouldn't be your branch. Unless they migrated to the North.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.