Somewhere in these notes I have alluded to the fact that Robert Louis Stevenson is a forbear of ours on Mom's side. After Toni was born, we made a very conscious decision to have Robbie. Toni was separated by eight years from Robin. It worked out like this: Lucy Chase (Lucky), two years, John Elbert, two years, Evelyn, two years, the PhD, two years, Robin, eight years, May Preston (Toni). Lucy Chase realized that Toni would have four much older siblings - the nearest being eight years older - and it would be like having six parents! We had to have one more nearer her own age. I could not have been happier. I agreed at once: "I always wanted six!"
So when Robert was born, we decided that James Robert Louis would be an excellent name for our new baby. We called him Robbie from the beginning, but when he went to school we told him that he could choose for himself what he wanted to be called...Junior, Jim Bob, Jimmie, James, James Robert...
The summer he was four, my younger brother's son Tom lived with us for a while at Interlochen and Robert LOVED him. To our astonishment, when given the above alternatives, he announced that he wanted to be called TOM!
Well, that's OK.
So for his kindergarten and first couple of years, he was "Tom." One of his teachers - a male gym teacher - called him Tom Terrific because he was such an attractive little boy.
Then, being the independent type (that he still is), he decided on Robbie and so he has been ever since! He has dropped the James.
It has always been a source of mild amusement for those who first learn his name. Last year when he won the President's Medal as the most outstanding teacher of elementary school science in the whole United States, when he was introduced to receive the award to the National Science Foundation it was a very serious affair. But when his name was read "Robert Louis Stephenson, third grade teacher at Wardcliff Elementary School, Okemos, Michigan," there was an audible titter that rippled over the huge crowd. That mild amusement turned to delighted laughter when, from the back of the auditorium, his three-year-old son Andrew shouted out, "Hi Daddy!"
Composed 5 November 2008; Transcribed by Lucky© Jim Bob Stephenson 2008