To: George Edward Hand III

Caution: do not read if you’re already halfway toward feeling bad.

Alan Hand was from the Netherlands. He came to New York City’s Ellis Island in 1910 by way of Hungary. His son was George Edward Hand Sr. George was a handyman about town. His son was George Edward Jr., also a handyman and odd-jobber in the city.

His wife was from the south of Louisiana, a descendant of French refugees from Canada and she never spoke a language other than French her whole life. My dad, George Edward Hand III only spoke French up until he was five years old when started going to school.

The charming Ms. Sophia Mouton, une femme j’ai jamais vue de ma vie.

French was a forbidden language in the school system, and dad was punished for speaking French there with the other kids of Creole beginnings. He quickly learned English, lest he continued to suffer punitive measures and fall behind in his studies.

Dad took French in college hoping for an easy A; he ironically flunked it and lost that credit — hated that for him.

He joined the Air Force as a young man and was the first of the men in his American family who was not a jerry-rigger and fixer-upper. Clearly, the skills of his fathers’ trades were handed down from Georges Junior and Senior; Dad was a wiz at fixing and creating with his hands. He could do anything, it seemed, my dad could and I was proudly in awe of him — he was the King!