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The Name I Am


It seems, at least to me, that my last name is unusual. A Google search of my name does not find a single other "David Klamet". I suppose that can be useful, sometimes. I've never had any trouble getting the username I wanted when registering for email addresses or on web forums.Maybe I'm just sensitive about it. The show that plagued my childhood, The Beverly Hillbillies, was about the Clampett family (if you're fortunate enough to not know or remember it) that ran for nine painful years during my childhood. During that time, my name was almost always mispronounced. For years after there was an invisible "p" in my name that I couldn't see, but people would still pronounce. Were there really that many professors at KU who were influenced by the show and used that pronunciation?For me, though, the name "Klamet" has a stolid, earthy tone and images of tilled fields and fall harvests come to mind. My father's father was a farmer. I imagine that his ancestors back in Germany were farmers, too. He raised seven daughters and two sons in the old farmhouse my father grew up in and that I spent many Christmas Days in. I cannot help but imagine their life in rural Leavenworth county. My father's mother died when he was young. The children attended Dafer school, a one room schoolhouse not far from my father's farm, where I grew up. I once overheard my father tell of his resentment that Charley, his older brother, got to use the tractor to plow, while he had to use the mules. I can imagine him walking behind the mules, resentfully watching his brother across the field on the tractor. Recently, at the funeral of the father of a high school friend, I happened to meet several elderly ladies who new my father and his brother. I overheard one of them as she talked about how she new them both and used to dance with my uncle, and what a good dancer Charley had been. He died when I was very young in an auto accident with his oldest daughter, their truck was hit by a train as they drove into town one evening. How and why is a mystery.My father died many years ago. He did not farm full time, but every season a crop was planted and there were always cows in the pasture. The farming tradition did not end with him, but it did not continue through me. The thought of my being a farmer would make my brother laugh out loud.Fate has played a strange yet subtle joke on the Klamet family. Of all the brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, grandchildren and cousins, the future of the Klamet name passes only through me--the one who had the least interest in the only life they all knew. My father's brother had only girls, as did my brother. My three sons are the only ones who will carry on the name.I often see that name now, printed in programs for high school music concerts and soccer games. Among the long list of names in small print, my sons' names seem to stand out as though they were printed in bold. Out on the stage or on the field I see my sons, but in my mind I see my father behind those mules.


Alia Ahmed 10 years, 3 months ago

I enjoyed your piece about your name and your family's history. It reminds me of the stories I've heard in my family about adventurous souls who came west to seek a better (but often harsher life).

Linda Hanney 10 years, 3 months ago

Great post. I love reading personal histories. BTW, you should take a tape recorder and visit those ladies with memories of your family.

David Lignell 10 years, 3 months ago

I love your recollection about how your father's brother got to use the tractor to plow, while he had to use the mules. Sounds familiar to anyone with an older brother. Of course, my brother would counter that I got away with murder as the youngest -- and that would be true. Anyway, that's my mule story. I love, too, how you make the connection across generations to your own son. Nice story, Dave

Ronda Miller 10 years, 3 months ago

I first read this not long after it was first posted and have thought about it on a couple of occasions. It has given me a lot of thought and consideration of my own family tree. I miss the heavy German accent that I took for granted from my grandparents and their neighbors for so many years.

I am sure you are proud of having three sons to carry on the family name and represent all of those who walked the rows before them.

An additional note of interest - my daughter's first words were, "Ooooh Doggie" as we were big fans and watched reruns of the Beverly Hillbillies when she was small.

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