Before Mowsza, a.k.a. Moshe, Maish, Maishe, Maishel, became Morris he was for a time Moses, and later, Maurice. Let me explain.
Upon arrival in the United States, his first his American name was Moses, the literal translation of his Yiddish name. It did not endure. The name Moses required recurrent defense from taunting peers. Singsong versions of "Holy Moses, King of the Jews, swapped his wife for a pair of shoes" could be tolerated for only so long.
In the autograph book of Miss Lillian Vivian Gersh(enowitz) commemorating her graduation from the Arsenal School (Miss Hackett’s class) is the following inscription:
June 22, 1925 “Roses are red violets are blue. Sugar is sweet and so are you. If you love me as I love you. No knife can cut our love in two.” Maurice Eisenberg
The handwriting looked vaguely familiar. Could this (Romantic Slasher) be who I think it is? Somewhere in the metamorphosis of his name, my father took or was given the name Maurice. There are no known stories about this evolution. However, I have a faded picture of my father, age 17, dated December 1925 in Hartford, CT. In my mother’s handwriting at the top of the picture is the word 'Maurice.'
In this photo he is standing in front of a short flight of stairs leading to the entrance of a house. ‘Maurice’ is wearing two or three layers of sweaters and jackets, none of which fit very well. On his head is the easily recognized cap everyone seemed to wear in the 1920's. He looks like one of the Bowery Boys or Dead End Kids-a teenage street urchin. He appears to have just come from central casting on a movie set dressed to play a ‘ragamuffin’ (a child in ragged, ill fitting, dirty clothes). I envision that in a picture dictionary next to the word ragamuffin, there would be that picture of my father. He is the least 'Maurice' looking person I could imagine. My mother was Then 14 years old and in love. I suspect she tried to create 'Maurice.' Her favorite performer was Maurice Chevalier. I speculate that Maurice seemed pretentious, so the name ultimately became Morris.
Along the way, his name took on another permutation, if for only a brief while. Within that same autograph book, in which Maurice Eisenberg had written, there is, almost one year later, in the identical handwriting, the following entry:
March 1, 1926
“Fate cannot cut us apart,
For I am now offering you,
My Heart.” (The word Heart is underlined
The Romantic Slasher strikes again!
To his family, he remained Maish, Maishe or Maishel.
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