My cousin Jane Huggins did the sweetest thing the other day. She sent my brother and me copies of an old photo she had found at her mother and father’s home (Charlie and Iris Powers). It was from 1946, going by the approximate age of my brother Harold.

It was a photograph of the family of Dewey Wilbur Powers, Sr. (my grandfather, known to us grandkids as “Da.”) W. D. Powers, Sr. and Family

I had never seen this picture before. From left to right, the people are as follows:

Back row: W. Palmer Powers, aka “Ponk,” Dewey W. Powers, Sr., aka “Da,” Charles H. Powers, aka “Charlie,” Dewey W. Powers, Jr., aka “Dub,” Harold W. Motte (my father), aka “Motte,” and in his arms, Harold W. Motte, Jr., aka “Bud.”

Front row: Michael D. Powers, aka “Mike,” Marena S. Powers, aka “Mimi” or “Boots,” Martha Elizabeth Motte (myself), aka in those days “Betty” or “Bets,” Bertha Madeline Powers Motte (my mother), aka “Sister” in younger years, “Beth” later on.

Doing family tree research I had located my granddaddy’s WWI military registration card and saw that he had written out his entire name: Dewey Wilbur Powers. He was 18 years old.

His first-born son’s first name is Wilbur, Wilbur Palmer Powers. His second son, D. W. Jr., however, has William as a middle name, not Wilbur.

Then I discovered that in earlier days, Sr. and Jr. did not necessarily mean the same thing they do today. Sr. simply meant the older of two men in a community with similar names, whether or not they were father and son. They might not even be related to each other. The names didn’t have to be identical, just similar.

That goes a long way toward explaining the mystery of the middle names.

This is the only photograph I’ve ever seen where all my mother’s siblings are together in a photo. As you can see, the three oldest Powers boys were in the Navy during WWII. Mike was far too young for military service then. My father Harold was in the Army Air Force, though not in uniform for the photo.

I am very grateful to my cousin for sending us the copies of this photograph. It means a lot to me.