Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, January 16, 2015

I Swear

Hello, Josephine!

Wikipedia indicates that a song written by Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew “charted #7 on the Billboard R&B charts and #14 on the Billboard pop charts” in 1960. The actual title of the song was “My Girl Josephine,” although “in various cover versions,” it became known as “Hello Josephine.” It’s a bluesy number, easy to play on the guitar, and the lyrics begin:

Hello Josephine how do you do

Do you remember me baby

Like I remember you

You used to laugh at me and holler woo woo woo.

I didn’t say it was deep!

A couple of weekends ago I said, “Hello, Josephine” to a new inhabitant of Earth. On Dec. 18, 2014, she was born in Charlotte, N.C., weighing in at seven and a half pounds and measuring 20 inches long. Or tall, if she could stand. So, I now have two granddaughters. No age jokes, please.

On Jan. 2, I flew up to where Josie, or JoJo (but not Joe, Josey, or Joey), lives and got to know her a little bit. As you might expect, she sleeps a lot, eats a lot, and ... Well, you know what else babies do a lot.

Predictably, the show was stolen by J.’s big sister, A.C., of whom I wrote in Feb. 2013, shortly after she was born. Yes, J. will go through life with a sister less than two years her senior.

A.C. mirrors attributes of her mother, she who taught herself to read at the age of two. Her birthday being Jan. 11, 1980, in Dec 1982 she sat down with “A Visit from St. Nicholas” in her lap and proudly recited it word for word. Thinking that she had memorized the poem, from having heard it 100 times, I flipped to another page in the book. Not missing a beat, she read every word she recognized, which was most of them.

A.C., like her mother before her, is communicating in complete sentences before her second birthday. Asked if she would like some more of something, she replies, “No, thank you. I have plenty.” Referring to a photograph on her dresser, she tells me, “Mama is in the picture.” Watching a football game on TV, after a certain play, she says, “The helmet is off. That helmet is on!”

When A.C.’s birth was still a few weeks off, under the influence of a New Yorker piece by David Owen, I came up with a grandfather nickname. Owen noted that if you live long enough, the name that you will die with will be the one hung on you for grandparental purposes. He wrote of a woman who dearly wanted to be called “Grammie.” She was nettled when the tot called her “Ninnie” instead. And of a toddler who called his grandparents “Man” and “That” for a while.

After lots of cogitation on the matter, I’d decided on a name. But when I looked A.C. in the eye, I knew that name wouldn’t work. So I tossed it. She calls me “Vic,” although occasionally it comes out as “Wick.” I trust her sister will do likewise.

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.