On Father’s Day, I think not just of my father (who I grew up not knowing), but also of a mysterious uncle that mom once mentioned. When I was young, she told me I was named John after my Uncle Jack. When she saw my confused look, she explained that his real name was John, but everyone called him Jack.

My dad had one brother and his name was neither John nor Jack, but Tom. So who was this uncle I was named after?

Recently, a light bulb came on in my brain. What if I misremembered or what if my mother got it wrong? Maybe I was named, not after an uncle, but after my grandfather — my dad’s dad — who was named John.

I thought it would be simple to go online and find out if he was called Jack. But no.

He was born in 1897 in Palermo, Sicily, and died in the early 1960s, probably in New York, but other than a couple of early census records, he was a ghost.

Part of doing research is skill, but another part is simply not giving up. Often, not just in research but in any endeavor, a point is reached where a lack of success creates a desire to quit. It’s somewhere past that point that a breakthrough comes, and so it was this time. After hours of searching for John/Jack, a memory stirred. Wasn’t granddad an artist who worked for a New York newspaper?


Didn’t mom say it was the same paper that Walter Winchell wrote for? A quick check online said Winchell wrote a gossip column for the New York Daily Mirror.

This promising lead soon faded. There are no archived copies of the Daily Mirror online, and try as I might, no connection could be made between that newspaper and a John or Jack Governale.

But then, after again working well past a desire to quit, I found a glimmer of hope. There are old copies of the Daily Mirror for sale on eBay. Great. Except they sell for as much as 50 dollars each, and I wasn’t about to shell out that kind of money.

As that glimmer of hope faded, the desire to quit hit me again. But suddenly the glimmer rekindled.

Each issue of the Daily Mirror on eBay had a photo of the front page. But some also had a few interior pages as well. One by one by one, I looked at each eBay listing, clicking on each photo.

At one in the morning, after hours of searching, there it was. A 1941 issue had a drawing of a world map showing which countries were part of the Allies and which had sided with Germany. In the lower right-hand corner of the drawing was a signature that looked very much like my own. But instead of John, it said Jack Governale.

Happy Father’s Day, Jack. It’s nice to be named after you.

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