I was given the name Karin Ingrid Augerson, to which I added McAdams when I married Michael. I still use McAdams, because the kids have it.
I don’t know who decided on Karin Ingrid, especially with the Swedish spelling. Augerson is an Americanized version of Åkeson, the name of our immigrant ancestor from Skåne. But my great-grandfather immediately demanded to know how to pronounce it, and I never really knew till we went to Sweden, where the Swedes, seeing it written “properly,” said oh, Kawrin (with a rolled r).
I was born in Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital. I can say that I was born in Hollywood, which is true, but technically Hollywood is just a part of Los Angeles, California.
I was born on April 8, 1940, a Monday, at 7:28 in the morning. Both the sun and the moon were in Aries, and six planets were in the 12th house. A note to non-astrologers: the latter can be either dire or full of challenging opportunity. I can’t find the weather, but it was probably another day in paradise, sunny with the high in the low seventies.
The world didn’t look good about then. The United States was declaring itself outside of the war that was worsening in Europe, but there was already a draft, and the government was secretly helping England, which was being bombed heavily. Surely this was in the back of everyone’s mind. *
In my story I mentioned that there were no freeways in Los Angeles then, but in fact there was a little bit of the first freeway opened, the Arroyo Seco or Pasadena. This wouldn’t have helped my parents get to the hospital. The modern era was truly coming; that year the first McDonald’s opened, also in Pasadena. I never saw one when I was a kid, though.
My mother’s maiden name was Elizabeth Leggett Guest. Leggett, or Legate, is a family name that goes back to the seventeenth century in America and before that to England. She was always called Beth. My father was Philip Henry Augerson. Philip was after his mother’s grandfather, who lived most of his life in Iowa, and Henry was his mother’s maiden name. I always, even into adulthood, called them Mommy and Daddy; somehow Daddy still seems okay, but I can’t refer to my mother as Mommy.
My mother was born in 1915 in Detroit, Michigan. I have a telegram that my great-aunt Margaret Whittemore sent to my grandmother, saying “Congratulations on the birth of baby Elizabeth. Votes for women!” My mother died of a heart attack in 1962. My dad was born in Galesburg, Illinois, in 1916 and died in January 2002. In 1963, Daddy married Elisabeth Roblee Zuckerman, my stepmother, who lived to the age of 98. She was determined to live long enough to vote for Barak Obama and to make sure he was elected. She died on December 4, 2008.
On my mother’s side, my grandparents were Emma Farrand Whittemore, born in 1883 and died in 1948, when I was eight, and Kenneth Irving Guest, 1878 – 1938. I was the first grandchild, and though my grandfather didn’t live to see me, my great-grandfather, James Whittemore, did. I remember Grandma Guest well; she was a warm and loving grandmother. When she was raising her own kids, someone took exception to her gardening, to which she retorted, “I’m raising children, not roses.”
My dad’s parents are the ones I really knew; from the time I was five until I was nine we lived next door to them, I spent more time at their house than I did at home. Grandpa Augerson (Herbert Rutherford) was born in 1884 and died in 1969, about the time my son Ian was born. My mother once accused him of being “a bigoted old man,” which he undoubtedly was, but he was always gentle with me. I helped him pick boysenberries and slaughter chickens.
Grandma Augerson was a beloved and affirming part of my life. She would patiently take part in my playing pretend, and she let me wring out clothes in the wonderful wringer and hang them on the line. Not really liking to cook, she had no problem with me experimenting in her kitchen. Living from 1886 to 1979, she had a long life, though her mind became shaky toward the end. She was born Stella Mae Henry in Galesburg, Illinois, the oldest of eight children.
I’m an only child. In spite of great-grandfather Whittemore’s advice to get a better doctor next time, my parents probably preferred not to take that risk again; also, the war undoubtedly intervened.
*The day after I was born, Germany occupied Denmark and Norway.