Saturday, March 24, 2012

I'm Irish. And German, Choctaw, Chickasaw...

I'm Irish. And German, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee and a little French. When I think of my heritage, different words come to mind for each ethnic group because of personal experiences.

My father's mother was German - short, round and a little fierce. My husband and I spent three years in Germany when he was in the Army. I was often mistaken for Deutsch so I guess I inherited more German physical characteristics than any of the others. The words and images I associate with Deutschland are rich culture, comfort food and castles. That fierce part of my grandmother gives me an impression of a clan mentality. Granny thought anyone in our family could do no wrong, but she sort of stuck her nose up at everyone else.

My mother's mother was American Indian - Choctaw, Chickasaw and Cherokee. I didn't know her. She died when my mother was three. What I know of her comes from a couple of faded pictures. One letter she wrote survived her. It was rather sad. Words and images I associate with my American Indian blood are not so easily stated. Maybe proud, beautiful, ceremonial and a sadness that comes from trusting that ended in disappointment.

I'm not sure who was French exactly, but my father's side is responsible for this heritage. I've been through the south of France and on another trip spent a few nights in Nice. Without any family firsthand connection, I can't say I have any real associations. The small amount of time spent in country gives me only superficial images - wealthy, sweet and the best latte I've ever had.

And last but certainly not least - Irish! It is Irish American month. My mother's father, Grandpa, was a full-blooded, redheaded Irishman. He died the day I brought my son home from the hospital. My few memories of him are vivid. He didn't live near us so I didn't get to spend a lot of time with him. But those few times were rousing. His love of drink was stereo-typical, as was his storytelling and colorful language. He made me laugh and for a young girl, he was tons of fun. At one time, I owned some Bosons, and the one named Jock always looked just like Grandpa to me. Jock is Scottish but you get the picture. My words for Irish are fun, colorful, cheerful and green.

Using my heritage and my strongest impressions, my book Honey On White Bread is about Claire Flanagan whose father is Irish and her mother is Choctaw.

When seventeen-year-old Claire Flanagan is wrenched from her father and deposited at the Good Shepherd’s Home for Wayward Girls, all dreams for Hollywood stardom are lost. But when twenty-year-old Benjamin Russell helps secure her release, she starts to believe in a happy future with him…until she discovers his ex-girlfriend is pregnant.

In this post WWII coming of age novel, Claire discovers the silver screen can’t compare with the fight she takes on for the leading role in her own life.


Honey On White Bread:

Visit Brenda at
She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at
She blogs about prairie life on her personal blog


Alison H. said...

What an interesting heritage, Brenda! One of the best things about being American is all the different nationalities in our melting pot. My own mix of German, Swedish, and Scottish is heavy on the German, too. It's great that you've used yours in your book.

Jannine Gallant said...

I love doing research on my roots. I'm heavy on the English with some Swedish, Danish, and a little French & German thrown in. Love the way you characterize each nationality!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Hi Jannine and Alison - we're quite a melting pot!

Jenny Twist said...

well, no wonder you're so full of life - good hybrid stock!

Brenda Whiteside said...

A mutt of high bread stock! LOL