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March 24, 2008


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The New York City Math Teacher

The Berliners are Ranthum, right?


Michael Nohr and Christina Ranthum, yup. How did you know?


How does one go about finding US Service records? My grandfather was a doctor in the US Army prior to, during and after WWII. Died in the 60s and I'm sure my mother doesn't have a copy of his record.

Doug M.

A few hundred meters behind Claudia's parents house, there's a memorial to the Lost Lands.

It has a big cross on top, and is very much a "one day we shall return" sort of thing.

On one hand, it's old -- 1950s. Other hand, it's kept up.

Doug M.

Noel Maurer

Christine: a fire in St. Louis destroyed most of them, including my father's.

Carlos: I've told you about the family story regarding my last name? /Everyone/ tells it, although there's no evidence, and my father doesn't believe it.

Regarding German names: considering as I have no emotional connection to the old country, I really do wish that I'd gone ahead and changed the spelling to "Mauer" before I started publishing. Instead I'm stuck with a last name that I pronounce three different ways on the same day, depending on my mood.

The family members who picked "Conner" at Ellis Island, well, I think they had the right idea. Nohr? Natzke? Argh.

At least "Maurer" is easy to pronounce in Spanish. Although for some unknown reason people in Mexico seem to always hear it as "Maurel" when I say it.

That was your Unnecessary Personal Ramble of the day. We new return to regularly scheduled commenting.


Christina, there's a web page here:


Noel, come on. Those are great names! Good solid rye bread and liverwurst names. Conner? generic now, very very Irish in the 1830s.

... you know, I think all my family missed Ellis Island. Castle Garden, the Danes, probably. (Try tracking down a Jens Larsen sometime. I am not kidding when I say there were whole towns of Larsens in Wisconsin. Including, well, Larsen.)

Noel Maurer

How do you pronounce Natzke? And why does rye bread and liverwurst have a positive connotation?

Okay, okay, I'm being obstreperous. But my last name just got written down here in Santo Domingo as "Maura." Another spelling that I wish I'd thought of and moved on before I got committed to "Maurer."


Nat as in Nat Turner, and -zke like Jet-Ski. I'd bet that most people today probably think it's Polish. (And it might be, in the mists of time; it's possibly a diminutive of Ignatz/Ignacy, from the borderlands. On the other hand, Ignatz wasn't a popular name until the Counter-Reformation.)

Even a Notzke, though, would still wear their name proudly. Because they had it first. Let those goose-steppers whistle for it.

Noel Maurer

Amma has decided to commit to "Maurer," as well.

On the one hand, it's totally f----n' amazing to see mail coming in for Amma Nzinga Maurer. I honestly can't describe it. It's just great.

On the other, now she's also saddled with this unpronounceable German monicker.

"Mason." That's the literal translation of "Maurer." A bit generic, but it woulda worked fine, if only it had occured to me before I started publishing.

Ni modo.

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