Salon has an April 1 special contribution from “Julie Limbaugh” about the difficulties of growing up with a surname made infamous by one bad man.
My sympathetic letter of response is buried among the vitriol on Page 17 of the letters section.
A similar experience here
I know how you feel.
I grew up in Fort Lee New Jersey in the 1960s, when there was a large Jewish population. I felt like a complete outsider. I wasn’t Jewish, or bigoted or even all that aware of cultural differences.
But you try telling that to people when your name is Bobby Hitler.
My father was a proud man, and despite the obvious hassles, felt that changing the family name would be a dishonor to his father, who had died before World War II. I can respect his intent but it really became a single minded obsession that he continued to prosecute long after the inevitability of the struggle became overwhelming. But you could say that we Hitlers share this trait.
School kids wouldn’t play with me. Either their parents warned them away or they rejected my authority and plotted against me. I tried to form my own clique called Scholastic Aptitude or SA for short but eventually had to disband it suddenly when my right hand man Ernie turned out to be a little weird.
Simple events like Halloween were uncomfortable. One year all the kids on the block went out as army men and I tried to join in.
Adolescence only made things worse. Girls all asked if I had only one ball. And forget about trying to grow a mustache !
Eventually you grow up and come to a place where you can make a decision for yourself. I never knew my grandfather, my experience was completely different from my father’s so I felt no obligation to continue. I started to use my mother;s maiden name. And that is why 19 days from now on April 20 when people are reminded of Hitler’s birthday no one will cast a hateful glare my way.