his friend thought it all a fun joke. It could just be a story told, an invented explanation to later children and grandchildren for an absent father. My family is full of mysteries and I don’t know how much Jean knew about the law or men, but I know that when she declared her marriage vows, she gained an ephemeral husband. The law considered their marriage null and void. Jean bore their first child in October of 1930. The following November, in 1931, Jean labored in Cook County Hospital to birth her second daughter with Maurice. Relief was brief, as she was told there was another infant in her womb. A doctor used forceps to pull a baby boy out of her body. Jean named the twins Barbara and Robert Galvin. My Grandma Barbara denied her black heritage and passed as white her entire adult life. In my Grandma Barbara’s mind, her father abandoned her because of the color of her skin.
I have seen one photograph of Grandma Barbara’s first husband, my grandfather. The photo is in my mother’s entryway, on a bottom shelf. I wish I could tell his DNA from it. My mother’s maiden name is Norma Theresa Espinoza. She thought she was Puerto Rican until she was eighteen-years-old, because Grandma Barbara thought Puerto Rican was the best thing to call her children. She was well aware of America’s racial hierarchy system, where black lay at the bottom. When my mother talks about her father’s race, it changes. First he was Maybe Mexican, then he was Texan, then a year ago he was Native Texan, as in