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Posts: 819
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

For those of you who remember her on TV, and/or for those of you who may know of her otherwise, collect her recipes, etc., etc., here is a fun clip from an interview she gave on Kuhn Rikon's website:

Is Crescent Dragonwagon your real name?

Many people do dumb things as teenagers, but most have the sense not to cast them in concrete and drag them around for the rest of their lives. At sixteen, I got married for the first time. My then-fiance, Mark, and I thought that a woman should not take a man's last name, so we decided to choose a new last name for ourselves. We also discovered that our first names had meaning we didn't agree with (it was the late 1960's, we did not agree with much). "Mark" meant "the warrior"; we were antiwar. My old first name, "Ellen," meant "the queen"; we were anti-authoritarian. He came up with new first names for us: "Crispin", for him, meaning "the curly-headed one"; "Crescent," for me, meaning "the growing" (once erroneously reported in a newspaper interview as meaning "the growth").

The wedding drew nearer. We still hadn't come up with a new last name. One day, after trying and discarding several possibilities, I said, "Maybe we're taking ourselves too seriously. Maybe we should pick something completely frivolous." He said, "Like what?" I said, "Oh, um, uh, like Dragonwagon."

Thus we became Crescent and Crispin Dragonwagon. If I'd had any idea how many thousands of times I would have to explain this ridiculous name, I would have chosen something a lot less flashy. But by the time I realized how long the remainder of my days might be, and that I'd be pulling the name around like a ball and chain, I already had a couple of books out and the start of a professional reputation. I am long. long divorced from Crispin Dragonwagon, but am still toting around the name. I certainly can't blame anyone for saying, "Huh?" when they first hear it, or writing me off as a flake. But, A) it's my own fault, and B) once people know me, they don't even notice my weird name anymore. Thankfully.

Decisions you make early in your life affect you differently over time. Looking back, something that probably contributed to my decision was a desire not to get by on my parents' renown or identity. I was a writer; they were both semi-famous writers. I think I felt that if I used their name, I was somehow cheating; riding on their reputations and identities instead of forming my own.

I do respect the pigheadedness and idealism of my sixteen-year-old self, even while I am exasperated with her. Because now, at age 58, I sometimes ask myself, "Wasn't being a professional writer hard enough? Did you have to make it harder on yourself?!"