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What's In A Name?

(by Aimee Lee Ball)

My mother’s name was Gladys. Not a name one hears too often these days, and it was unusual even in her day. Her father was an opera buff who operated one of the concession stands at the opera house in Philadelphia, which was built by Oscar Hammerstein I (grandfather of the lyricist for Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music). My grandfather apparently named my mother for the beautiful American mezzo-soprano Gladys Swarthout.

Famous family story: When my mother was four years old, her father took her to an opera. The star was a woman who had no children herself, and was reputed to give children she favored an expensive piece of jewelry.