C.W. Gusewell


Is a name of fame a royal pain?

I’m proud to say I knew and loved Kate Middleton long before her name was on the lips of every loyal man and woman in the United Kingdom.

We vacationed together – shared a cozy lakefront cottage. She was a gifted cook and great company around the heating stove on chilly evenings. Storms terrified her. She trembled when lightning flashed and the wind hurled waves against the shore.

She had no royal title then, but she ruled the hearts of everyone who knew her.

She was my favorite aunt, Aunt Kate, married to my favorite uncle, Kenneth Middleton. And she was the queen of two villages – Glenaire, Mo., and Elysian, Minn.

Kenneth was my mother’s brother, a journalist and devoted fisherman. From earliest boyhood, I remember summer weeks spent at their retreat in the north country.

Both of them are gone now. But I can imagine, if she were still living, the great amusement she would have found in sharing her name with the Duchess of Cambridge.

How do you suppose a British merchant would react today if an American lady on holiday in London were to try paying for her purchase with a check signed Kate Middleton ?

It could happen. The name’s not that uncommon.

To illustrate, there are three Shakespeares listed in our city’s telephone directory. None of them happens to be William, but you can bet there’s a Bill out there somewhere.

The phone book also shows four Hemingways, two Steinbecks, a William Faulkner, a George Washington, a Benjamin Franklin, a Betsy Ross, a Picasso and 18 Carusos.

Is it a burden to carry a famous name? I wouldn’t know. I once tried to research the provenance of the name Gusewelle, and the results were disappointing.

The information that came back indicated that men by that name had been mostly ne’er-do-wells – slackers, draft dodgers and louts who neglected to marry the mothers of their children. I chose not to pursue the matter any further.

When spoken, Gusewelle has been rendered many ways: Goose-well, Gussy-well.

I once even received a social invitation addressed to Charles Suscavelli, from someone who must have thought I was a mafia don.

However it’s said or spelled, the name has spared me the confusion and embarrassment of being mistaken for anyone famous – much less being thought a member of England’s royal family.