The Speigel Connection

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Okay, so this is a kinda funny story. To me, anyway. Which isn't saying much, 'cause I'm a person who laughs at my own jokes. I really don't mind, though. I care mostly about keeping myself entertained. In life. Which is why I want to tell this story.

Spike Jonze is interesting. I know, I know you're saying "interesting? "  So, if you wanna tune out, so be it. Still, when I saw the NYT Mag cover page of Spike Jonze, I was drawn in because he looked interesting and I love his movies. As I read the very interesting story, I was fascinated by Spike's personal history and creative energy, particularly because I identified with him. It was deep. Deeper into the story I learned he was a descendent of the Spiegels of Spiegel Catalogue fame. To myself: OMG! My grandmother was a Spiegel.  Exponentially interesting. Was there some mysterious DNA glitch that might actually explain my  dark, quirky sense of humor and doom?

My mother, many years ago, told me her mother was a sister of that Spiegel. My grandmother, the story went, had eloped with a defector from the Czar's army (from a family of horse thieves, no less) and fled to America (with a daughter, the first of their 11 children)  in 1901. No one ever offered much more about their family histories, so it seemed the Spiegel connection was a legit possibility. Except that my mother was a great fabricator of facts, a.k.a. a pathological liar. (That alone can predispose you to dark and quirky.) However, a quick calculation (I inherited a good head for birth order) and I determined that I was the same generation as Spike's dad, the grandson of the founder of Spiegel, which would make my grandmother the exact right age to be a Spiegel sister (and me old enough to be Spike's mother's kid sister). This is where it starts to get weird.

Naturally I went to the internet and started my research. I did an extensive search for "Spiegel"  which yielded lots of info, but nothing on the Fannie Blacksin nee Spiegel who was my kin. I went out on a limb and looked up my own maiden name. I found a site for a music festival by the same name. Gruntfest. I suppose it could have been worse ( I once had a friend who referred to me as Nancy Orgy). I persevered. Eventually I went to Facebook and contacted any possible connection. No replies. My last effort was a cousin in Scranton, an artist whose mother was my mother's sister. Another granddaughter of Fannie Spiegel. I once asked her if the Spiegel myth had merit. "Probably not," was her glib reply. Her name is Judy Heep nee Matloff.  "What" you may ask, " does her name have to do with this story?" In my last, desperate attempt to get some facts, she was the only connection I had to anyone who possibly had any ties to our past. So I dashed off an email, hoping that she might actually have some leads. Then, I solemnly went off to my bedroom. As is my habit, I took the Sunday NYT with me and, on my way to the crossword puzzle, I turned to the inside back page to eye the story by, lo and behold,  Judith Matloff. Could it be???

No, it wasn't. But, coincidentally (?) her story was about her search for her grandmother's home in the Ukraine! That very same NYT Magazine where Spike Jonze nee Spiegel graced the cover. Now, this may not seem like much to to you, but to me it is quite interesting.

Posted on June 25, 2010 and filed under Un-Blog Me!.