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Grabbing Alexandra

My name has defied tongues for years: Grab, Grabby, Grubble, Grobble, Grapple.  Maybe my ancestors were famous in Tsarist Russia, but no Americans could get Grabbe right. Even putting a French accent on the final "e" didn't produce the correct pronunciation.  It was, therefore, almost with jubilation that, on May 17, 1969, in Vassar’s Shakespeare Garden, I slid down the aisle into a new persona, globe-trotting Alexandra Boutin. 

I loved the sound of this new name and repeated it under my breath as I headed for Kennedy Airport and life in glamorous Paris.  I felt taller, as if I had grown at least three inches. Sandy Boutin was more stylish.  She had better posture. She learned to drink red wine with dinner and would become an excellent French cook.

As Sandy Boutin, I bore three children, reported on life in France for the monthly France Today, and hosted two radio shows, “An American in Versailles” and “Good Evening, Paris.” When the program director asked me to create a radio name, I chose “Sandy Beach,” a nod to Wellfleet, on Cape Cod, where my parents had retired.  

Fast-forward fifteen years. I move home to the USA with my second husband to care for elderly parents. I write a memoir about that experience, while working on two novels. I start a green bed & breakfast and create a guide to Wellfleet.  With pride, I resume my maiden name. People will simply need to learn how to pronounce it.

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