Various anecdotes have filtered down of where the name “Shory” originated, and how it came into possession of my Arab grandfather, my “Jidi”.
One story is that the name was the immigration officer’s attempt to spell out “Shwi-ree”, a name Jidi had been using in France and French Canada. This name, in turn, was a Westernization of the Arabic tribal name “Schwerbe”.
Another version is that Jidi’s English was none too good. When the immigration official asked him “What is your name?”, grandfather thought the question was, “Where are you from?” In this version “Schwerbe” is a precinct of Beruit.
Whatever the case, I early learned to spell my last name out, instead of just saying it, because everybody always wants to put an “e” in it.
Once at an EMT training, there happened to be a “Rick Shorey” also. He came along first in line. When he saw “his” certificate spelled “wrong”, they tore it up! I had to wait for a replacement in the mail.
Another time, working for the Forest Service, I almost got arrested for somebody’s mistake.
I was teamed with two youngsters, one from Oklahoma, the other from Virginia. We were doing forestry surveys in northern Washington State. They were fascinated by being so close to a “foreign country”.
We took our lunch break in a little border town. They strolled across into Canada and back, just so they could say they’d been there.
I went into the customs station to meet them. The officer waved them through, but for some reason wanted to see my identification – me, who hadn’t even been in to Canada.
The hiring officer, when I’d started my Forest Service job, had typed my name wrong the first time. Of course.
Then she’d used whiteout to correct it, before it was laminated. The border patrol was all upset about my “altered” government ID.
From this sort of thing, I became militant about having my last name spelled correctly.
The “extra e” mistake was so universal I even thought about changing my name to that. But now with the Internet, it’s handy.
You can Google me, and get me and only me. Except for a few people I’m related to.
One thing Google will find is the “Shory Family Reunion”.
The Shory Reunion has no Shorys. The people who hold that reunion did not even know there were any living Shorys, with that name, till about ten years ago.
You see, Jidi had a brother. They ran a store together. However, their wives didn’t get along.
One day, one of the wives took a penny piece of candy from the inventory. The other wanted her to pay for it in the till. The first wife refused.
From this tiff they stopped speaking to each other. The two families drifted apart.
Jidi’s brother had only daughters. In that side of the family, in the next generation, the Shory name was lost.
One of these girls, my father recalls, sat next to him in grade school. She was a first cousin he didn’t know he had. They even shared the same birthday. But still the families were not reconciled.
The two Native American tribes, the Crow and the Sioux, were once one people. Their languages, and other ways, are very much alike.
There is a story, the same in the oral history of both tribes. According to the tale, two women once argued over a buffalo paunch.
I don’t know what a buffalo paunch is, but in the grand sweep of things it’s probably like a penny piece of candy.
Anyway, everybody in the clan took sides in the quarrel. The tribe split into two camps. These became the Crow and the Sioux.
Ever after, they were enemies.
At least the Shory branches aren’t enemies. We just never knew about each other.
Some time in the 1990s a man named Robbie White got in touch with my father. Turns out, the other “Shory”s have a big reunion every 4th of July, a tradition decades long.
They keep a mailing list, and are always talking by email. I even wrote to a few of them for awhile, but it didn’t stick.
They seem like fine people. However, lacking those years of shared history, we couldn’t come up with much to talk about.
Several years ago, one of my Shory uncles, my father’s brother passed away after a long illness. The funeral chanced to fall on the 4th of July.
Only long afterwards did my father realize the Shory Reunion was happening right down the street, that very same afternoon.
“Those people might have liked to know,” he shook his head at the irony, “About the funeral of somebody they were so closely related to.”
And an actual Shory.
All this over a penny piece of candy.