What's in a Name?

The shortest route to Waspdom, when it was still the new arrival's destination of choice, was the swapping of an ethnic name for an "American" one. A case in point:

A well-seasoned Irishman in the New York city hall pressroom eyed with obvious distaste the new boy being introduced around. "Barrett?" he sneered in lieu of a handshake. "You're no Barrett." He was offended that this kid of obviously Semitic stock had the temerity to filch a surname from the old sod. Stuck for a rebuttal, I swallowed the slight. Even now, 35 years later, a good answer eludes me. But...

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