Picking Harriet’s name was a little more tricky than picking Alma’s. This time around, we decided to find out at the 20 week ultrasound whether we were having a boy or a girl. We put of talking about girl names until then.
If she had been a boy, she would have been named Chet David. Chet was my great uncle, who was my hero. He was an amazing man who lived through a lot of amazing and inspiring things. David is both my dad, and Jesse’s dad. Alma would have been Chet David, too. But, she wasn’t a boy.
Since Alma’s middle name is my maternal grandmother’s maiden name, we had talked about giving our second daughter my paternal grandmother’s maiden name – White.
We found out that Harriet was a girl on the same day that my paternal grandma passed away. Her name was Muriel, so we threw that name in the ring. Jesse’s grandma, Daphne, was a great woman who had passed away a few years ago, so her name was up for discussion.
We went to a restaurant and started throwing names out there. We pretty much left with three options:
- Daphne White – Daphne for Jesse’s grandma, White for mine.
- Muriel Chapin – Or perhaps Murielle. Chapin was Daphne’s maiden name.
- Harriet Olcott – Harriet because we liked it, but also sort of for my grandma Muriel’s family (her father was Harry) and Olcott for Chet and Helen.
After lots of discussion, we realized that whenever we talked about a name, we both would say, “I like it, but not as much as Harriet.” That told us something. If we are comparing all the names to Harriet, that must be the name!
So she was Harriet.
I still wanted to honor Chet and his wife, Helen in our child’s name.
Helen and Chet never had kids of their own, but were sort of like second parents to my mom. And they were like a third set of grandparents to my brother and me.
Since they didn’t get to have their own kids to carry on their family history – and since we were so connected to them, I wanted to figure out a way to connect their legacy to future generations.
Before World War II Chet went to officer’s training school for the Navy and was sent to Wake Island. On Christmas Eve, 1941, Japanese troops took over the island and took Chet as a Prisoner of War. He spent the remainder of the war in various POW camps in Japan. Just think about that… he was a prisoner from December 1941 until September 1945. Chet never really spoke of his experiences in the camps, but after he died we found journals, letters, artwork and other remembrances of his time as a prisoner. I had always looked up to Chet, but reading his journal solidified his place as my hero.
After the war, he met and married my Granny’s sister-in-law, Helen McHugh (Granny married my grandfather, Frank McHugh during the war). They lived together with an unbelievable view of the ocean for the rest of their lives. Helen and Chet were a third set of grandparents to me. I learned so much from them: never to trust a guarantee, to enjoy and celebrate nature, The Lord’s Prayer, how to have a sense of humor, how to fly a kite and so much more.
Also, Chet’s father was Ben W. Olcott. Ben was governor of Oregon after Oswald West. That makes both of our girls a part of Oregon history. And that’s pretty cool.