Saturday, May 23, 2009

An American Family

As you're probably aware the posts on this site are generally written by our staff writers or interns, usually in their native Hñähño (which has to then be translated into Spanish before being run through Google Translation and uploaded here, in case you were wondering why we don't cover breaking news). But since this is one is more family-related, I thought I'd come to the office and write it myself (or, more accurately, dictate it to little Luipta here).

First of all, Happy Birthday to our most energetic commenter, my mother, who is officially of retirement age today - a fact that would probably excite her more had she not left the work force midway through the Johnson Administration to devote herself to spoiling yr. humble corresp. full-time. Also, Happy Memorial Day. Now for the family/memorial tie-in...

So, a few days ago, the Legal Dept. was performing their weekly internet search for any references to me that might warrant a cease and desist letter or a nuisance lawsuit, when they discovered Koughan Memorial Water Tower Park, a two-acre parcel of land in Round Rock, TX.

"Koughan" being a transcription error from the original Irish "Keoghane," anyone with that name is almost certainly a relative. And while we, as individuals, if not collectively, are not entirely lacking in accomplishment, the Koughans are not people who have a lot of stuff named after them. In fact, we're pretty certain this is the only piece of public property in entire United States to bear our name. (And it's in Texas, no less! We were very relieved to learn that Round Rock is adjacent to Austin, the Lone Star State's one little island of sanity. Plus, we like the whole Boston/Austin thing, pioneered by another son of the Bay State who has a lot of stuff named after him.)

The Koughan memorial Water Tower serves as a giant tree at Christmastime, and it apparently appears in the opening of "Friday Night Lights," though I've never seen the show. Here it is on GoogleEarth:

But who is the Koughan being memorialized here? A statesman? A war hero? A philanthropist? A self-employed certified public accountant? Sigh. If you happen to be a Koughan, you won't be surprised to learn it's the latter.

William Koughan, according to his extremely pleasant wife, Ruth (who, to my amazement, didn't think for a second that I was some weirdo trying to scam her), was a CPA from St Paul, MN, who moved to Texas about 35 years ago and passed away in 1998 at the age of 62. Since 1990, he had lived on Round Rock Ave, just up the street from the eyesore patch of land containing the water tower. After he died, Ruth and some friends raised about 40 grand to spruce up the land, which was also across the street from Bill's CPA practice, and turn it into a park bearing his name.

In other words, our family's one public commemoration was bought and built by ourselves. I was a little bummed out by this until I decided to think of it as an example of the kind of self-reliance and rugged individualism that to often goes unapplauded in the public sphere. So Happy Memorial Day, everyone.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Birthday wishes Frank! It was worth leaving the work force to spend a lifetime keeping you out of trouble!

Love, M

Dan said...

Ummm . . . is it just me or do the towers featured in the pictures you posted not resemble each other in the least? Either way, as a Koughan, I could not be more proud and will certainly sit for a moment of quiet contemplation the next time I'm passing through Round Rock. In my book, spending 35 years in Texas as a CPA takes far more guts than storming the beach at Normandy.

Burro Hall said...

I think it's the perspective, bro - one's taken from the air. I know they do everything bigger in Texas, but I'd be surprised if there were two old water towers on Round Rock Ave. Though, if there are (and I'll concede there may be), let's you and me pitch in and get it named after Dad.

Strangely, this does not in any way decrease my reluctance to visit Texas again.

chip said...

Glad to see from the comment above that Burro Hall is applying the "It-Seems-Plausible-To-Us" standard to it's reporting. (Pioneered by fellow former CBS-ers, Rather and Mapes)

So was he a relative?

Burro Hall said...

Most likely. He was was Minnesota, but his family, generally, was from Maine, and can be traced back to Prince Edwards Island, like ours can. In other words, it seems plausible to us.

Charles Pergiel said...

The first picture made me think of the Martian Tripods from "War of the Worlds". I used to live in Austin a long time ago, so I know where Round Rock is. I've even been there a couple of times. Didn't see any Martians.