Monday, October 24, 2011

A Short Story From Dorothy

Dorothy told me a short story during my last visit with her. I'm going to share it with you. First, though, I'd like to thank you again for all of the wonderful mail she's received. You folks are the best! Although she really isn't up to sending personal replies to each of you, she is definitely getting a great boost from your thoughtfulness. Every time I read aloud from one of the cards or letters, or ask her about one of the stuffed cats, a big smile makes itself at home on her face. I'll repeat the address again, in case anyone else wishes to join in:

Dorothy Luff, Room 103
c/o Milford Care & Rehabilitation
10 Veterans Memorial Drive
Milford, MA 01757-2900

(For more background on Dorothy, please go HERE.)

OK, here's the story.

When Dorothy was born, her older sister, Patty, found herself unable to pronounce "Dorothy". After unsuccessfully trying to wrap her tongue around the name, she instead took to calling her "Dolly Ann". That name stuck, and it became what her immediate family called her. Nobody ever called her "Dorothy". Since her older sister called her "Dolly Ann", that's what Dorothy was known as when she went to school for the first time, too.

L-R: Patty, My Father, Dorothy (or "Dolly Ann"), a short while before this story

After a few years, her family moved from their original home to The White City Apartments, on Hyde Park Avenue in Boston.

(At one time, three apartments in that building were occupied by my family members. I'm not sure, but I think there were 10 apartments altogether and 13 of my family roaming around. You couldn't swing a dead cat by the tail and not hit a Sullivan family member, if that's your idea of fun.)

As a result of the move, Dorothy enrolled in a new school. On her first day in class, the teacher was calling the roll.







"Dorothy? Are you here? Please answer "Present!""

Again, silence.

The teacher once more called out, "Dorothy?"

Dorothy turned in her seat in the first row and, like everyone else in class, looked around the room for the missing student.

Since nobody answered, the teacher moved on. After calling all of the names on her list, every student in the room had been accounted for... except Dorothy.

Teacher: "You haven't answered, little girl. What's your name?"

Dorothy: "Dolly Ann!"

Seeing no "Dolly Ann" on her sheet, the teacher asked...

"What's your last name, Dolly Ann?"


"Luff? Let's see... Luff... I have a "Dorothy Luff" here. Are you Dorothy?!?"

Realizing she was, Dorothy meekly said "yes".

With great embarrassment, it dawned on Dorothy that, on her first day in a new school, she had given everyone the impression that she was so dumb she didn't even know her own name. It took a while to live that down.

Soon, with more better stuff.


Hilary said...

She has certainly repeatedly proven over the next century that she was anything but dumb. Funny tale.

Suldog said...

Hilary - That's the great thing about the story (which she told on herself, of course) is that she's a tremendously intelligent person!

Craig said...

Funny story. . .

A girl in my 6th-grade class, who ended up being our class' valedictorian by the time we graduated, had a somewhat similar experience. In our 'history' lesson, we were discussing our own family histories, and she raised her hand and volunteered that "George Washington's horse was my father's great-great-somethin'-somethin'", meaning, of course, that GW had bought a horse from one of her ancestors, but it sounded like she was saying that she was descended from a horse. The teasing lasted pretty much through all of 6th grade, but she eventually lived it down. . .

Daryl said...

Love it .. and I am glad she's sharing this wonderful family history with you .. I so wish the last time my dad and his kid sister were together (they've both passed since)we'd set up the video camera to record their reminiscing .. there's no one left of their generation to share the past with us.

messymimi said...

Makes me wonder if there isn't more in a name than Shakespeare gave credit for.

You and Dorothy have given me a smile on a morning when i really needed one. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Now there's an oops moment if I ever saw one.

lime said...

aw, i can just imagine the poor kid. love that she's the type of person who can tell the story on herself and laugh about it all these years later. what a great spirit. my best to her.

Michelle H. said...

What a wonderful story! I can just imagine how meek she acted for the entire day. I expect she handled the rest of the school year with smarts and grace from the teasing.

Jackie said...

Give Dorothy a great big hug from me, will ya please, Jim....

notactuallygod said...

But it wasn't her fault! Poor kid.

Maggie May said...

How sad. Today they would have crossed out Dorothy and put Dolly Ann on the register. Children choose what name they want to be know as.
I am so pleased Dorothy is getting such a big response to the invitation for cards that you put out.
You know, Suldog, you have a heart of gold. God Bless you.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Ladybuggz said...

My mother was always called by her middle name, Louise, and was registered at school that way. One year she decided she wanted to use her first name, and my grandmother arranged it. But after my mother came home and reported that there was a girl in her class who never answered the teacher, my gran told the teacher to go back to Louise. In 85 years, that's the only time she ever used her first name.

Buck said...

GREAT story, and I can relate. The first day o' school and having to answer to "Norman" was always semi-painful... because the ONLY time I was ever addressed as Norman at home was when I was in it DEEP. I'm STILL not over that yet, actually.

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip said...

I went through the same sort of trauma. Imagine finding out your first name is Uncle [HSWHTPFIHC].
Seriously - it took forever for me to find out that nuns really do have a sense of humor... just not about kids who don't answer to their own name.

Lora said...

Haha! That's a cute story! And besides, being completely mortified builds character....right? ;)

silly rabbit said...

Great story! I agree that its wonderful that Dorothy can tell it and laugh at herself. It is a requirement in our family.
My middle sister once proudly announced after a visit to the dentist that she "had only one hole in her head". My only brother turned to the rest of us and promptly said "Yeah... between her ears!"

Chris said...

Too funny. On a similar note, my brother Bobby came home crying from his first day of kindergarten because in his class, they insisted on every child going by their full name. Never having been called anything but "Bobby" up until then, he walked in the front door sobbing,


Carolina said...

Wonderful story. One of my friends has two little daughters (the farting cushion kids) and one of them is called Jennifer. But she's never called anything else but Jef. Because older sister couldn't pronounce Jennifer at first. I can see a repeat of Dorothy's story happening when Jef goes to school ;-)

Sueann said...

Ha!! Love that story!!

CiCi said...

Great story. I can picture the students turning around looking for the missing Dorothy. Ha.

Clare Dunn said...

You and Dolly Ann have hit a home run with this story! Love It!!

Shrinky said...

Awww, I can just imagine that little girl curling up inside in sheer embarrassment - poor kid, I think we've all been there at some point!

Joan said...

Great to be able to hear the old stories! I love it when my Dad shares his childhood with us.

Mich said...

Ah the joys of elementary school!

That picture is ADORABLE.


Pearl said...


My brother only answered to "Kiki" for years.


Pearl said...


My brother only answered to "Kiki" for years.


Anonymous said...

Great story!!!This problem is very common.
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Karen said...

I'm glad she's enjoying the cards :)