This is the very definition of “personal” and as such it I expect it to inspire about as much interest as a pop-up from your local Hyundai dealership. So stop reading.
It’s about my name. My surname. And before the (very few) well-meaning among you point me to resources like ancestry dot com or the justifiably respected Mormon compendium in Utah let me assure you that better minds in this family than mine have been trying to walk the cat backwards for decades with limited result.
I’ve used that name, my name, in my Twitter @ handle since forever. And I’ve gotten perhaps ironic attention from eastern Europeans as well as Middle Easterners ever since (one Egyptian follower explained in a DM my name translated there as “the boss” which worked well with my often irate online persona).
The cousin who chased our lineage furthest, a published professor of literature who knows a thing or two about research, found the oldest surviving records showed our great great great (great?) grandfather on a ship’s manifest leaving Budapest, circa Hapsburg Empire.
Before and after that, thanks to the destruction of two world wars, things get hazy. And our elders? Even hazier. I asked my father once, and only once, what he knew of the family from his father and grandfather. “Leave it be,” he said, “if anything we may owe back-taxes.”
There has always been — and this is difficult to impart — a sense of shame, or denial, about my family heritage from the elders among them. There’s only one elder left. And there’s not a lot of the rest of us.
The current total of blood Bosha’s in our immediate web is 9. All male. There hasn’t been a female Bosha born to this clan in 120 years. That was Aunt Fanny, who was apparently alive when I was born but dead soon after (I’m 58).
I look at the old photo above (from a piece on how “Bosha” is “sometimes offensive/derogatory”) and think “That doesn’t look like us” and then I see…
…a kid who looks like my sons. Who looks like me when I was a kid. Unfortunately in my case, cigarette and all. Budapest. Budapest.
I’ve had it explained to me in non-mincing terms by Europeans who would know that the Roma were/are “the niggers of Europe”. And that would go a long way in explaining the tight lipped approach to heritage in this particular encampment. The laugh being they all set about marrying Irish girls, the Irish being also derided as “the niggers of Europe” during the same immigration wave.
Was it a name handed out as a gag by a tired Ellis Island intake officer when the real one was too complex but the point-of-origin offered an easy joke?
Don’t know. Never will.
There it is.