Tedd and Audrey Determan are among the people you meet on a trip and never forget. Chance encounters that are unforgettable have happened to me several times and this one was in China 2006. Audrey was explaining Tedd's bent little fingers, and with some probing, here is what I learned:
"My father's mother was a Charnofski, (spelling) which was a large, Polish Royal landowning family," explained Tedd. "Her mother, (my great grandmother) lived her last days with my grandparents. My great grandma was really wrapped up in the heritage of the family, the titles, the land, and, I guess, the castles. There was a tradition that all of the male heirs of the family, since there was only verbal tradition (of lineage), had their little fingers on both hands broken...to identify who the real heirs are. I was around 2 years old when my great grandma took me out on the porch late one night and proceeded with hammer and some other tool to break my poor little pinkies. I have been told by my Mom that that caused quite a ruckus, especially since it is very hard to break the finger of a child..the green-tree syndrome and all. In any event, I have very bent little fingers, especially the left one...and a wonderful story for my wife to tell."
Being royalty isn't so great when you have broken fingers and none of the land, the titles and the castles.
But, the story is wonderfully rich.