Ties from the Past

Herman Teale Janc, the only father-in-law I was fortunate enough to know, passed away three months after my daughter arrived on this planet. She was born in mid-December, 1972, and Herman and Mary Grandma came to visit us at Three Points over Christmas. It turns out that was the only time Herman ever saw her. Three months later, at age 53, he was dead of a heart attack suffered while he was at the Nevada Test Site north of Las Vegas where he had worked for years. When Herman died, I was so glad that I had stuck to my guns and named my daughter after him. She was and is a very real legacy.

No, I didn’t name my new baby Hermione, not in 1972. J.K. Rowling and her Hermione wouldn’t show up until decades in the future. No I used Herman’s middle name, Teale. Her first name is Jeanne, pronounced the way it is pronounced in France— Zhun. As far as I’m concerned, Zhun Teale sounds better than the much harsher Jean Teale any day of the week. Believe me, she’s had to fight for that name every day of her life since then—at school and at work.

At the time Herman died, Mary Grandma was working in the nursery at the Showboat Lanes at the Showboat Casino a few blocks from her house. Her job was literally within walking distance of home. It turns out Showboat Lanes was a very busy place and still holds the record as the bowling alley that hosted the greatest number of pro bowling tournaments in the US.

Mary Grandma was a gorgeous woman with an hour-glass figure and movie star good looks, so it wasn’t surprising that, once a suitable period of time had passed after Herman’s death, that she came to the attention of her boss, Frank Mirabelli, the guy who managed the Showboat Lanes. He was a handsome former pro bowler who usually wore—guess what–bowling shirts. Mary Grandma and Frank were married in a beautiful chapel just off the Strip. Unfortunately, their marriage was, as we say around here, short but brief, and eventually ended in divorce. End of story. Right? Well, not quite.

Our grandson, Colt—Mary Grandma’s great grandson—is a bowler—a thirteen year-old championship bowler. He’ll be bowling this weekend at the JBLT (Junior Bowling League Tournament)26 at the Sunset Lanes in Las Vegas where, at the banquet on Saturday, he’ll be honored as the Pacific Northwest Bowler of the Year.

He bowled there last year, too, and one of the guys who runs Sunset Lanes overheard Jeanne T. talking about her long ago connection to Frank Mirabelli. He came over and introduced himself. With any kind of luck, whether Colt wins a bowling plaque this weekend or not, he may be coming home with a a jacket with the Mirabelli name on it.

The Showboat is long gone. Herman, Mary Grandma, and Frank, too, are all gone. There is no DNA relationship between Colt and his late step-great-grandfather, and yet—magically—the connection exists. And you know what?

It makes me smile.

22 thoughts on “Ties from the Past

  1. It is certainly a small world. I hope your grandson does well. It is a great sport to be involved in. No awful injuries on a ball field.

  2. Zhun Teale sounds like genteel…refined, respectable, polished, decorous, proper, polite, correct, seemly, well mannered, well bred, cultivated, cultured, sophisticated, courteous, ladylike, gentlemanly, civil, elegant, stylish, urbane, civilized, courtly, dignified, gracious, punctilious – does that sound like her?

  3. I’m a Canadian who winters in Arizona and I just love your books because I recognize and have been to most of the places you mention.
    I’ve just read “The A List” and once again am sad when I come to the last page of your books.
    I usually read them in a day or two because I hate to put them down.
    Last night I read late into the night and wee hours of the morning then was up at the crack of dawn to finish this one.
    Thank you for all the joy your bring to me.

  4. I love your daughter’s name and can imagine how she has defended it’s pronunciation for decades. Jeanne Teale is a beautiful name and enjoyed learning about the origins of her name. Is she the dayghter who along with her husband sold you that ill-fated minivan that died in Santa Clarita? I’m hoping we all hear how Colt is honored this weekend. I grew up in the 60’s and bowling and movies were “the thing” to do on dates. How fun that he’s so accomplished. After hearing you speak at a signing in Prescott Valley I feel so much more connected to you and your books. I love the personal connection to your family and your familiar places. After many years of being a fan and reader, we have moved to Prescott.

  5. Team sports and activities have their benefits but learning bowling, tennis, golf, and individual sports last a lifetime. Same goes for band, chorus, orchestra. Learning piano, guitar, etc, a personally fulfilling and shareable talent at any age.
    Go Colt!

  6. Team sports and activities have their benefits but learning bowling, tennis, golf, and individual sports last a lifetime. Same goes for band, chorus, orchestra. Learning piano, guitar, etc, a personally fulfilling and shareable talent at any age.
    Go Colt!

  7. Team sports and activities have their benefits but learning bowling, tennis, golf, and individual sports last a lifetime. Same goes for band, chorus, orchestra. Learning piano, guitar, etc, a personally fulfilling and shareable talent at any age.
    Go Colt!

  8. When we lived in Phoenix, we with kids often drove to Vegas. Dad loved to gamble, I no. So we always stopped at the Show Boat. Dad went in to gamble, the kids and I bowled and then went out in the motorhome to bed. I am sad that the ShowBoat is no longer there. Good memories.

  9. Does the group Colt belongs to in Seattle pay for this trip to Las Vegas? I assume they would since he is the champion, but you never know. I used to like watching bowling on TV. The first time I tried it I threw my arm with the ball behind me as I’d seen the people on TV and dropped the ball on the floor. Other folks not happy. That was my last time bowling.

  10. That’s very sweet and congratulations to Colt. I am named after my maternal grandma Celia, I k how your daughters struggle, people call me Cecilia all the time. Needless to say it’s my least favorite Simon & Garfunkel song.

  11. Congratulations to Colt! Funny how stories like that come full circle and tie up nicely with a bow.

    I was all ears/eyes to hear your daughter’s name explained. It is in my wheelhouse now. I have struggled for 2-3 years now with Louise Penny’s book characters French name pronunciations. Usually wrong! Had to get some Audio CD’s to get things figured out. I get surprised a lot with French names.

  12. I’m not sure how bowling is, but tenns is so much more than an individual sport. Our grandson started tennis at a fairly youg age, playing in tournaments all over the PNW, in high school, and now college. He has now has friends every where. Playing in HS and college is more of a team sport than it seems. The players work together as much, if not more, as any “team sport” . They also seem to be some of the better students. The only thing I know about bowling, is that my wife kicks my behind every time we go, and that my uncle is 92, bowls three times a week and is still in great shape.

  13. Good Luck to Colt!

    I love this story. I really think it’s a special gift from God when some incident reminds us of someone or some place long ago. Maybe something we had never even though of before.

    By the way, that lady still lives in Benson who is now 98 years old and continues to read your books, even though she has cataracts, but refuses to have eye surgery.

  14. Good luck to Colt this weekend.
    Great story about where he will be bowling and also concerning your daughters name and namesake.
    I always enjoy reading your weekly blogs.

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