Waywad, Woywad, Woy what?


Yes, W-O-Y-W-O-D....."Woy" rhymes with "boy" and "Wod" is pronounced "Wood!"

"Well what kind of name is that?"

It's my name!!! That's what kind!

I cannot tell you how often I've had to explain to people how to pronounce my last name nor can I even start to describe how many times it's been butchered by others. So many times in fact that when someone new pronounces it, and gets it right, I am stunned..I congratulate them...I thank them as I shake their hand!!!

For almost 17 years in my adult life people knew me as Eva Marie Roberts...nice and simple, right? Well not really because even then it was my first name they got wrong....Ava? Eve? No, E (long e , it says it's name) - VA! E-V-A! But even then if they weren't sure a quick and simple "Mrs. Roberts" always did the trick. It didn't matter that I actually hyphenated my last name when I was married, Woywod-Roberts, as long as they saw the "Roberts" that's what they went with.

Even now, over a year after my divorce, and by people who know me well, they will still refer to me as Eva Marie Roberts. When I remind them that I no longer go by that name, I will often hear "well it's easier for me to say than 'Waywad'!"


There was a time when I was a child that I absolutely hated my name...all of it! I would inform my parents almost daily of the new name I wanted to go by - and then demand they change it to it:

Some of my favorites...

Kelly (my first cat's name, and a Charlie's Angel)
Holly (just because)
Sabrina ( the smart Charlie's Angel)
Tabitha (I always wanted to wiggle my nose and travel to another dimension...anywhere but where I was)
Scarlet (Gone with the Wind....what else?)

Anything was better than the name I was forced to be called by!

Then as I started to mature ( something I am still in the process of), and as I learned the history behind my name along the people who carried it before me, I slowly started to appreciate just how unique it truly was.

Now the "Eva Marie" part came from my father's crush on the actress Eva Marie Saint. Which once I realized she had kissed Cary Grant in "North by Northwest"...I was cool with it. Cary Grant has always been my favorite leading man....funny, sarcastic, intelligent and sexy! We'll just ignore those rumors on his sexual preference! Besides, it was better than the "Starr Lynn" my mom wanted to name me....and although I am a product of the 60's, my mom never took LSD...that I know of.

As for the Woywod. Well, you can pretty much bet if you run across another Woywod we are related somewhere in the family tree. There are a few here in the states, some of which I know of...my father's brother's family and then my grandfather's brother's children. I have found one other clan of Woywod's here in the states but not sure where we connect in the tree. Other than them most are still in Germany. Yes, I said Germany, and yes, I know that it doesn't sound like a German name. I've had Germans in Germany tell me that...while they wondered where I got the red in my hair if my dad was "supposedly" German...

Now my Grandpa ,August, a strict man with his well over 6 foot frame, often reminded me that "Woywod" was a "aus Prussian" name.

"A strong name!"

"A name held by warriors!"

"Leaders of soldiers!"

Knowing how he and my Grandmother came to the states and started their family, I stopped doubting what he told me. Grandpa came to Ellis Island after he fought in the first World War and in hopes for a new life. Alone, and young...he left everything and everyone he knew behind for a better life for him and his soon to be bride.

He started his venture working in the coal mines of Pennsylvania, to working on a Kentucky horse farm. Eventually his trek (which lasted years) lead him to Evanston, Illinois where he landed a maintenance job at Northwestern University. It was then when he sent for the love of his life, my Grandmother, Bertha.

Grandma, not knowing a word of English and not one soul (other than Grandpa) in the states, climbed aboard the ship that would take her also to Ellis Island to start her new life, in a new world. It was during her passage on that ship she studied along with some others, the English language.

She made her way to husband to be and Evanston, Illinois where the couple was to be wed at Saint Nicholas church. A beautiful old church where one day I would attend it's school and receive my confirmation. A church where when I was a child that carried so many questions, and pain from the abuse I suffered at the hands of many a man, you would often find me there taking comfort in it's beauty and peace contained within it's walls.

The young couple would have three boys; August, George and my father Alfred. Only my father and Uncle George survived childhood as August died from lock jaw when he fell on a rusty fence and the doctor who attended to him didn't see the need for a Tetnus shot.

My Grandparents lived well into their 80's. First to pass was Grandpa, and then only a few years later Grandma followed. I was lucky in that I was extremely close to them and in their final years they lived with us. I grew up in a modern world, but home was a step back into time where old world traditions were the norm....including them only speaking in German to one another when at home.

I grew up hearing the stories from the "motherland" and also the horrors of wars. Grandma would sit and remember the letters she received from family detailing the violence that happened when Stalin's army marched through her hometown. Even now just remembering her words as she reread the letters talking about a family being slaughtered by having their tongues nailed to a table and then their throats slit, still brings chills to me.

That is just a small glimpse into my name's history...so now when people tell me I am a strong woman because of all I have been through, I think of Grandpa and his stern voice reminding me that my name, Woywod, is "Aus Prussian!", "A strong name!"..and I understand now what he meant.

So yes, my name is Eva ( with long e that say's it's name) Marie Woy (rhymes with boy) Wod (said like wood) . Once you know it, you'll never forget it.


Anonymous said…
I had a friend Eugene Woywod while in Vancouver BC Canada 1961-65
who used to be a barons son in Prussia before the Russians invaded,he was 9 years old then.
Bill West Chester PA

Anonymous said…
I feel your pain. My last name originally was Woykofka. My family also from Prussia and went to Pennsylvania to Coal mine. We have a August too along with Frank,Carl,Anna,Marie.....

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