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Peter Mallory's Blog

By pmallory - Posted on 12 August 2013

1 August 2013

When my son was in high school, he had a crush for a while on a girl named Mallory Somethingorother. Thank heavens she didn’t reciprocate . . . because I’m not sure the Universe could have survived if it had contained, even for a moment, a person named Mallory Mallory. Boggles the mind, don’t you think?

How could such a travesty occur? Philip tells me it goes back to a female character on the 1980s tv sitcom Family Ties. Musta missed that one. Too old. Too young. Something like that . . .

But before Mallory was a first name, it was a last name, a good one, too.

There was Sir Thomas Malory (or Malleorre) who wrote Le Morte d’Arthur before he died in 1471. Never knew him. Good book, however. The legend of Camelot.

Spelling has always been an issue with Mallorys. The tv series Adam 12 bad a character named Officer Pete Malloy. (Missed that one, too.) When Philip lived in France during high school, he was known as Philippe Malloire.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, there was George Mallory, arguably the most celebrated mountain climber on Earth in the years after World War I. When asked why he intended to climbed Mt. Everest, he is purported to have replied, “Because it’s there.”

Climb Mt. Everest he did, in 1924 . . . but he never returned. They finally found his body in 1999, but there was no way to determine whether he had actually made it to the top before he succumbed. He remains where he came to rest after a terrible fall, still wearing Oxford tweeds at 28,000 feet, and I am so proud to report that his fame has not dimmed in all the years since he disappeared into the mists shrouding the summit of Chomolungma, the Goddess Mother of the World.

Interesting fact. Both he and his climbing partner, Sandy Irvine, were rowers, good ones, too! Why am I not surprised? Here are Sandy and George standing at the far left (photo sadly missing from this archive).

My father was named George Mallory by his parents, but it was 1919, years before the climbing George gained immortality. So it is merely a coincidence . . . but a glorious one. My brother is another George Mallory, a doctor, not a climber.

Me? I have been told that the first member of our American branch of the Mallory family was also named Peter Mallory . . . and he was convict transported from England, had his choice of America or Australia. (Don’t know what “transportation” implies? Read The Fatal Shore, an astonishing book.)

My direct 19th Century ancestors became the boat builders of Mystic, Connecticut, first whaling ships, later racing yachts. How cool is that?!!

In the 20th Century my grandfather made Mallory Batteries, now known as Duracell. Half a century ago the ads would say "Dura, as in durable. Cell, as in powercell. The copper-top battery, made by Mallory."

A great-uncle founded Mallory Stemship Lines.

You can visit Mallory Square in Key West, Florida.

There were also Mallory Hats, favorites of Manhattan lawyers, movie stars and private eyes, and Mallory Coils and Distributors, favorites of hot-rodders. Cousins, apparently.

In The Guns of Navarone, Gregory Peck’s character was named Captain Keith Mallory. (Gregory Peck was a rower, too, by the way.)

Geneology is just wonderful. Each of us carries the genes and the cultural heritage of countless generations of predecessors. And the stories are always way, way cooler than fiction. Couldn’t make this stuff up. No way!

But recently I scaled my own Mt. Everest of Malloriana. Take a look at this: (image missing):

I found it in France through the internet. Can you believe it? A real-live authentic Italian movie poster for an actual Spaghetti Western from the 1970s. I kid you not! HOLY COW!!!! Look at the title, for heaven’s sake! “Il Mio Nome e Mallory . . . ‘M’ Come Morte” That’s Italian for “My Name is Mallory . . . ‘M’ as in Death”

Yah Dah Dah!!!

The fact that as a movie Mallory was sufficiently dreadful that it hasn’t survived intact is definitely NOT the point. We have the poster, for Heaven’s sake! Couldn’t make this stuff up!!!!

This poster is SO FRICKIN’ BIG that I had to immediately give it to my son, who is the only person I knew who had a wall big enough to hold it.

But in retrospect that makes perfect sense. I am so proud to pass this artifact on to the next generation . . . of MALLORYS!!!

Now, each of you, your family may not be lucky enough to have a Spaghetti Western poster like ours, but you definitely have stories of your own, great ones, fascinating ones. Go find them. Embrace them. Celebrate them. Swim in them. ROW THEM! Use them as a springboard for your own chapter of your own family story.