West Side Stories | Essay | Chicago Reader

West Side Stories 

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It was a Sunday. We called a cab, and we were riding to the hospital. I said to Vince, "Wouldn't it be a beautiful day to go on a picnic?" The driver turned around and looked at me like I was out of my mind.

She was born in two and a half hours. In those days the father didn't go into the delivery room. But afterwards they let him come in to see me. He looked so worried that I said, "Vince, don't worry about me. They're being wonderful to me. Everything's fine."

He wanted to name the baby Pegge, Margaret Mary, after his mother. And I wanted it to be Maudemarie, after my mother. He said, "Well, why don't we settle it by making it Mary Jo?"

I said, "Well, my mother is alive, and she would enjoy having a child named for her." We could name our second daughter for his mother. He said, "Well, if we named her Mary Jo--" I said, "Oh, no. We could keep that one for later."

When she was born the doctor said to me, "I never saw such wide-awake eyes. What's her name?"

I said, "I don't know."

I slept for a while. In those days they took the baby to the nursery. Anyway, when Vince came in to see me he said, "We have a beautiful baby girl. Do you know what her name is?"

I said, "No, I don't."

He said, "It's Maudemarie."

She's always liked her name, and I told her that her father named her, that I didn't. If we'd had a boy it would have been Vincent or John Ryan. We had five names when the first one was born, so we didn't have to worry about names for years. We used them all eventually.

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