My Other Side: The Little Side

Nov 23, 2016 | 0 comments

Mary Woods Little (Nana) and William Woodworth Little (Dad) c. 1915

Mary Woods Little (Nana) and William Woodworth Little (Dad) c. 1915

Much to my dismay, my mother (more than) once suggested that I have my maiden name changed from Little to Espy!  “But where does that put Dad?” I argued.  “Oh, well,” she answered (somewhat breezily, as I recall), “Dad has become much more Espy than he is Little.”

And, I believe that was true.  From the time my father, William “Bill” Woodworth Little came west from Boston, he seldom looked back.  Of course, that was in 1929 and even going back from Redlands, California where he was attending the University, was financially impossible.  So, when he met my mother and the rest of the Espys, they became his family.  Eventually, Oysterville became his ‘roots.’

William Oliver Baketell Little (Bumbpa) c. 1930

William Oliver Baketell Little (Bumpa) c. 1925

My dad had only one sibling – a younger brother, Jack – who, in turn, had two sons, Craig and Brian, eight and twelve years younger than I, respectively.  I grew up hearing of them and their exploits mostly through letters from my paternal grandmother, “Nana.”  Both now have “Dr.” in front of their names — Craig as Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, Sociology, SUNY Cortland and Bri as a medical doctor (neurologist? pathologist?) in Wilmington, Delaware.

Because I had lived in the Boston area during my first three years and was the first Little grandchild, it was I who had naming privileges.  “Nana” and “Bumpa” for my father’s parents and “Big Bumpa” for Nana’s father who lived in their house, up in the attic bedroom (which was cozy and book-lined and not nearly as Draconian as it sounds.)

Over the ensuing eight decades, Craig and Brian and I have visited back and forth, coast to coast, a half-dozen times or so.  The family connection is palpable – all the shared ‘memories’ (that aren’t shared through having been there as much as having heard about) and the fact that Craig, as he has aged, has become the spitting image of my father ..

Sydney and William Woods (Big Bumpa)

Sydney and William Woods (Big Bumpa) – 1936

In a situation much like in the R.H. Espy family, so far there is no one to carry on the Little name.  Chris Espy (my second cousin once removed) did finally marry a few years ago and has recently become the proud father of a son!  We got an email saying “The Espy Name is saved!”  On the Little side, it’s up to Brian’s son Eric who is not yet married – too busy pursuing his degree in forensic pathology.  Perhaps someday he, in his turn, will send out a Good News Email.

We three Little first cousins have been in touch recently – sharing family memories, photos, joys, and laments.  A fitting lead-up to Thanksgiving, don’t you think?


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