Meet Ronnie Hart and Ronnie Hart. It isn’t often, or ever as was my case, that you hear of cousins on the paternal side, within the same age range having the same given names. It never occurred to me to wonder. But I did find it curious at some point, even during my younger years. Does anyone ever think about how they acquired their names when they are very young… I don’t think so?
In my case Ronnie Hart the senior was (I’m guessing), three or four years older than me. So there was no doubt that name was already taken. Now, who is this little pip squeak that shows up bearing the same moniker? Well it turns out… an angel put me on the doorstep and left a name tag that said… “this is Ronald Arthur” and if you want to keep him you may. Just add your family name to his and he won’t know the difference. Little Ronnie promised us that he wouldn’t eat much and would try not to be a bother. If you should have problems with his behavior, there is a return label attached to his diaper pin. You can, if need be, reattach the label to his front pocket button hole and place him near the curb. The Sheeny Man comes by regularly on 32nd Street and will know where to take him.
Fortunately for me, the Hart’s decided they liked me and would give me a try. I was happy to become a Hart.
Even though he wasn’t my namesake, Ronnie Hart the older, was really a cool guy, he built model airplanes. His dad, my Uncle Bill, put together this huge model train set in their basement taking up the entirety of the room. It was a fun place to visit and I always looked forward to being there and seeing them.
Ronnie Hart (the older), let’s call him “good Ronnie”, was the ideal son. He was also the ideal grandson, cousin, and nephew. I think he surely loved animals as well and they loved him. As best I can recall not a bad word was ever spoken about good Ronnie. And, did I mention, I liked him a lot too.
Good Ronnie, very early in his life, decided he was going to be a Catholic Priest. It is extremely hard not to like someone who is going to be a priest. Especially those members of the family that might need some help one day gaining admittance, or getting a front row seat at one of those heavenly shows; I don’t think they are showing movies just yet, and I don’t think they have internet either. I believe it is mostly fireworks? At our celebrations, and family feasts, I’m also guessing Good Ronnie always got the biggest pieces of cake and the bigger drumstick, than did the rest of the smaller cousins group? I wish I had thought of becoming a Priest first.
My becoming a Priest, unfortunately, couldn’t happen. My mother was a protestant and my Dad of course was Catholic (there is a longer story here and not the intent of this missive). As for me, I wasn’t allowed to become a Catholic and go to the Catholic Church. So, I thought, I really hadn’t much chance of being as popular within the family hierarchy as my good cousin Ronnie? I remember it was painful for me, because all I really wanted was to feel I belonged, like the rest of my cousins.
Keep in mind the Harts were a huge Catholic family; a huge Catholic Polish family and its center was Grandma Hart, who was by then a widow. Having had thirteen children, as best as I can count, there were many Uncles, Aunts, and cousins about, and they were all strictly administered, in their Catholic ways, by the family matriarch. This put my mother at a huge popularity disadvantage within the purview of her mother-in-law. It was the source of one of her many frustrations with being a Hart… she had many of those.
The Good Ronnie did become a Priest and became a missionary in Africa. As for me, the not quite so good Ronnie, I did finally become a Catholic. That was shortly after leaving home to join the Air Force. I quite gleefully sent my mother a postcard to that effect.
Many years later, Ronnie “the Good” left the Priesthood, and my religious experience was short lived. My concern was all for naught, the Hart’s loved me and I still love being a Hart.