Family duty.

We’ll be out of touch today, attending the funeral of Alan’s Aunt Dorothy. (Everyone had an Aunt Dorothy once upon a time, didn’t they? And now hardly anyone does. In 70 years, will we all be burying our Aunt Britnee?) She died two days before her 91st birthday. I met her on the same day I met Alan’s parents. They had recently been to Fostoria to check out the biggest news in years — Jesus on a soybean-oil tank.

“They say the image was made by vapors, but maybe a divine hand guided the vapors,” she said.

“Oh, bullshit,” said Alan’s dad.

This anecdote pretty much encapsulates both departed souls.

Anyway, now she can ask the man himself.

I’ll be back tomorrow. Discuss whatever you like, but I won’t be participating.

Posted at 7:58 am in Same ol' same ol' |

97 responses to “Family duty.”

  1. Dorothy said on March 25, 2008 at 8:36 am

    My condolences, etc. to Alan et al.

    And of course I have 23 nieces and nephews (4 of them of the “great” variety) who have an Aunt Dorothy. My dad named me after a nun – well, let’s say he had “inspiration” from said nun. I’m just glad I’m Dorothy instead of Dorthea. And when I met David Letterman 21 years ago, he mentioned his mother is named Dorothy, which I already knew.

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  2. brian stouder said on March 25, 2008 at 8:41 am

    I had an Aunt Dorothy (married to Uncle Henry), and an Aunt Ethel (married to Uncle Harley), and still have an Aunt Fannie

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  3. John said on March 25, 2008 at 8:59 am

    I’m just glad I’m Dorothy instead of Dorthea.

    You just trying to piss someone off?

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  4. David said on March 25, 2008 at 9:10 am

    My maternal grandmother is named Dorothy. 87 and all too frail these days. My great aunt Goldie and my cousins Fern and Thelma have all passed on, bless them.

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  5. LAMary said on March 25, 2008 at 9:52 am

    I was almost named Dorothy, but my mother overruled it. I have an Aunt Mae, Aunt Flo, Aunt Marge and Aunt Nellie. You don’t meet many people with those names anymore.

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  6. Julie Robinson said on March 25, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Some of these names are coming around again: my grandmother was named Eva, and my MIL is Elizabeth. But we were just as guilty, since Sarah and Matthew were the most popular names the years they were born.

    And Matt is now on day 7 of the flu. What’s the male equivalent to Sleeping Beauty?

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  7. John said on March 25, 2008 at 10:04 am

    Rip Van Winkle?

    My children are Peter Pan names: Wendy and John Michael. My grandchildren are Lillian and Cole.

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  8. Jolene said on March 25, 2008 at 10:11 am

    Dorothy, you met David Letterman? Tell, tell. I’ve been staying up too late to watch him for, well, many years.

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  9. Dorothy said on March 25, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Oh Jolene it wasn’t anything really spectacular. But it was lots of fun. I went to see his show (still at NBC then) in August 1987, while visiting my sister in New York. I made a small quilt for him – a wallhanging, not a bed quilt. I had let his assistant, Lori Diamond, know about it ahead of time, so she had seats designated for us. We were in the middle section, 2nd row, and when he asked for questions from the audience (with only 90 seconds until air time), I raised my hand and he chose me! He thanked me for the quilt, and then said “Wow, this is so nice, I don’t even feeling like being surly and antagonistic anymore!” But of course, he didn’t keep his word. And I’m damned glad of it!

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  10. Sue said on March 25, 2008 at 10:38 am

    I have an uncle Eldrid. Not too many of those around.
    He’s a Yooper.

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  11. Dorothy said on March 25, 2008 at 10:39 am

    And oh John – no offense intended about the Dorthea reference. It’s just that it sounds even MORE old lady-ish than just Dorothy.

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  12. ellen said on March 25, 2008 at 10:58 am

    I had an Aunt Ernestine. She made great pies and homemade candy.

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  13. Danny said on March 25, 2008 at 11:00 am

    Some of my relatives names are pretty cool, IMO.

    Men: Tull, Shade (Shadrach), Elijah, Lee

    Women: Blanch, Ollie, Bootsie, Nellie, Goldie

    EDIT: Sorry, I just noticed that Mary and David had some of those names on the list. My attention is divided this morning.

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  14. Jolene said on March 25, 2008 at 11:11 am

    Still a good story, Dorothy. Not many of us Letterman fans have gotten our very own wisecrack!

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  15. Jolene said on March 25, 2008 at 11:14 am

    I have some distinctive relative names too—most of them dead relatives, I must admit.

    Aunts: Agnes Ingeborg, Lydia Gustava, Edna Miriam

    Uncles: Arthur Oswald, Rudolph Benjamin

    These are some of my mother’s brothers and sisters. A Norwegian family.

    My paternal grandmother was Doretta Adeline, usually shortened to Dora, which I always thought was very pretty.

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  16. Danny said on March 25, 2008 at 11:19 am

    These are some of my mother’s brothers and sisters. A Norwegian family.

    Jolene, have you ever met ABBA?

    Sorry, stupid joke. And I know they are Swedish.

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  17. John said on March 25, 2008 at 11:20 am

    And oh John – no offense intended about the Dorthea reference. It’s just that it sounds even MORE old lady-ish than just Dorothy.

    The grave gets deeper.

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  18. Catherine said on March 25, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Julie is right about some of those names coming around again, like Eva and Ella. My youngest is Virginia (a family name) — I was hoping it was “so old it’s new again,” but so far she’s the only one I know under 50. I still love it, and it suits her.

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  19. Dorothy said on March 25, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Jolene I knew a Doretta! She was one of my quilting friends, and lots and lots of fun. First time she came to the Wednesday night group, she had to put her quilting away, she said, because she was laughing too much and making lots of mistakes in her stitches.

    My dad had a sister named Irenaus. (rhymes with mayonnaise, sort of). That’s the only woman named Irenaus I’ve ever heard of or met. I get my middle name from my dad’s other sister, Clare.

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  20. Deborah said on March 25, 2008 at 11:44 am

    No Dorothys in our family, but my grandma’s name was Verna and we have two brand new boys named Woodrow and Owen.

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  21. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 25, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Ah, names — my grandfather and great aunts: Eldred Lothair, Chloa Loretta, Georgia Evelyn (ok, not so quaint). My in-laws are Myron and Elnora, but most folks don’t know them as anything but Buck ‘n Nory. In their families, middle names were for sissies.

    On my dad’s side, his father, who died just before i was born, almost stuck me with Harry Amos.

    Yeah. My mom said no, thank th’Lord.

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  22. MaryC said on March 25, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    On my dad’s side all the women were named Mary, Margaret, Jane or Janet regardless of fashion, going back all the way to Eve apparently. My mom had cousins with more typical names of the day: Beulah, Doris, Beatrice and Florence (“Bee” and “Flo”) and two unusual names: Ardis and Fairley. I thought they were all pretty names except for Beulah (who wasn’t very a nice person, maybe because of her name). I don’t think you’ll see Florence, Doris or Beulah coming back any time soon but I gather that Beatrice is becoming more popular.

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  23. derwood said on March 25, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    My mom’s name was Zelma. Her sisters were: Thenia, Margaret, Tookie, Hazeline and she had brothers Waddell and Chester.

    Yep, South Carolina…how’d ya guess.

    I’m the only Hoosier.

    And, I got 1 r and an o in my name.


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  24. Julie Robinson said on March 25, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    My dad’s family had an endless variety of Johns. So we had John, Johnny, Jack, John Jr, big John, little John, and one who was named John but used his middle name. Too confusing for everyone!

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  25. Kirk said on March 25, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    My grandparents were Hubert and Zoe, Walter and Bess. My parents were only children, so I had no aunts or uncles, but I did have lots of great-aunts and great-uncles, including Oma, Rhua, Deb (a great-uncle, short for Delbert), Edith, Ilo, Ada and Hazel. Think there was a Velma somewhere in there, too.

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  26. sue said on March 25, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    My brother was named after my mom’s beloved brother Jack, who died as a child. However, since we went to a Catholic grade school, and the nuns there insisted that there was no such name as Jack, John he was for 8 years. Not to us, though. And speaking of hypochondriac relatives, I believe my father probably died of hypochondria, since by the time he had some real, actual symptoms, no one believed him.

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  27. Jolene said on March 25, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    It’s not nice to laugh about someone’s death, but that last line really made me laugh, Sue.

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  28. sue said on March 25, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    That’s ok. I come from a family that can see the humor in just about anything. Although my dad probably isn’t laughing.

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  29. Danny said on March 25, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    I have often wondered how “Jack” is considered a nickname for someone named “John.” It isn’t like it is a diminutive.

    Is this really a Catholic/Eastern Orthodox deal where the insistence is on Biblical names?

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  30. Danny said on March 25, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Sue, that reminds me of a “Deep Thoughts” saying from Jack Handy of Saturday Night Live fame.

    “Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine … which is probably why several of us died of tuberculosis.”

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  31. Kirk said on March 25, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    I always wondered how Margaret turned into Peggy.

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  32. Linda said on March 25, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Yes, names come and go. See this for a fun exploration:
    It traces the most popular 1000 names in the U.S. for the last 100+ years. Linda is way down now from its crest in the baby boom, so I know lots of 50+ women named Linda, but no young ones. I am already a great-aunt Linda to three kids. The most remarkable comebacks for names are Hebrew names, and old-fashioned ones like Grace.

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  33. Sue said on March 25, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    I haven’t been a Catholic in a long time (other than the “once a Catholic, always a Catholic” part of me), so I don’t know how much has changed. But back in the day, you didn’t name your kid after a biblical character so much as a saint, preferably the saint on whose feast day the child was born. And you better know how your particular saint died. Then of course you had to pick a saint for your confirmation name later on, and you’d better know how that one died, too. And no, I don’t remember anymore, so don’t ask.
    And I love the Deep Thoughts quote. I’ll have to remember that.

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  34. Dorothy said on March 25, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    I have an Aunt Peg, who was Margaret of course. When she’d get phone calls while she was in high school, my Irish grandfather (Tim McCarthy) refused to acknowledge the name “Peg”. He’d angrily say “There’s no one here by that name!” and slam the phone down. And Peg’s brother, John, was and still is known as Jack.

    All of these wacky names – someone could write a book using all of them!! (hint hint – Nancy are you listening??)

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  35. Danny said on March 25, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Kirk, I guess there isn’t a Saint Peggy?

    This all kinda reminds me of that verse from “Rocky Racoon.”

    Her name was Magil, she called herself Lil, but everyone knew her as Nancy.

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  36. Jen said on March 25, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    My great-grandmother was named “Echo,” which I think is a unique name. I’ve only ever met one other Echo, when I was in high school.

    My first name is actually Jennette, which is pretty unique, too. That was also a great-grandmother’s name, I believe, and it’s also my aunt’s middle name. I’ve met a few people with the same name, but usually it’s spelled “Jeanette.”

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  37. joe k said on March 25, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    If you would have been a boy Jen, we would have named you, Apollo Bing.
    Love Dad

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  38. Mindy said on March 25, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    My grandmother was named Zelphia, which she hated. Her sisters had more normal names like Pearl and Lillian. She married Lowell Russell who was nicknamed Casey after he took a job as a railroad brakeman. He was never Lowell again except in his signature. When his younger brother was born, their parents wanted the new arrival to have a family surname for his middle name but argued over which one it should be. So he got all of them. The poor kid was named William Thomas Nelson Green Alexander Smith McDaniel.

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  39. Dorothy said on March 25, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    How did Bob come from Robert? I have a brother-in-law named Robert, but he’s Duke to everyone.

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  40. michaela said on March 25, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    I was thinking that there aren’t any unusual names in my family, but then I realized this quirk: both of my grandmothers were known by names completely unconnected to what was on their birth certificate: Marjorie (real name: Lillian) and Susie (Marion). I know that Grandma Susie had several Marions in school somewhere, thus the change to Susie. But I’ve never understood the jump from Lillian to Marjorie.

    Oh, and my mom is a Margaret turned Peggy.

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  41. Kirk said on March 25, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    And the CFO of the company I work for is a woman whose first name is Poe (rhymes with Flo). I haven’t heard where that came from.

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  42. brian stouder said on March 25, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    It’s not nice to laugh about someone’s death, but that last line really made me laugh, Sue.

    One of the funniest Mary Tyler Moore shows of all, was when Mary attended Chuckles the Clown’s funeral, after he got flattened by an elephant in a circus parade, and she couldn’t stop laughing (until the eulogist noticed her, and pointed her out)

    My brother Alan (who coverted to Buckeye-ism when he married a Pioneer woman, decades ago) was always known as “Louie” – for no real reason. Thinking back, they (mom and dad) also called him “Lumpy” (always had a lumpy head, I suppose) – and they may have called him “Louie Lumper” which became “Louie”….in fact, I seem to recall a Little League game where Alan got a hit, and, up in the stands, dad yelled “RUN, LUMP!” – which angered him!! (I was known as “hinge jaw”, for some reason)

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  43. Danny said on March 25, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    If you would have been a boy Jen, we would have named you, Apollo Bing.

    Too funny. Having your dad post.

    Hey, Jen. Just so you know, my mom had an alternate name for if I had been a girl. Stacey.

    Very few people knew that until I just posted this to the internet. Hmmm.

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  44. Danny said on March 25, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    That’s funny, Brian. Of my two nephews who used to live with us, the younger has an “in family” nickname too. It’s Ha-Beebee (pronounced kinda Middle Eastern). When his older brother was learning to talk, he referred to him as “the baby,” but with a binkie in his mouth, it came out like above.

    Travis is now 8-years old and doesn’t like the nickname. Not at all.

    Too bad! Hahaha.

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  45. alex said on March 25, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    Someone earlier mentioned Aunt Flo being out of style. Actually it seems to be quite the popular euphemism among women of my generation.

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  46. Sue said on March 25, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    That actually was one of the best MTM episodes ever. She spent the whole time yelling at everyone for making fun of Chuckles because it was so disrespectful and finally found the humor at the worst possible time. As for odd funerals, at my Aunt’s funeral my brother-in-law started laughing (as quietly as he could) and started fumbling with his cell phone. Afterwards he told us that he had forgotten to turn it off and knew what would happen if someone called him. His ringtone for some reason is Don’t Fear the Reaper (Blue Oyster Cult).

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  47. Dave said on March 25, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    I have a sister, Virginia, named for our maternal grandmother, and she’s still under fifty (five years to go!) but she’s always been Ginny.

    I had a whole host of great-aunts with names like Dora, Grace, Beatrice, Mildred, Florence, Gertrude, my other grandmother, Ella Mae, Belva (?, I’ve never known another) and, curiously, Florence, who somehow became Aunt Bill, no idea how.

    My grandmother’s brother was named Stroder, pronounced Strawder, and there are several Stroder’s throughout the family. Strother is a name I’m familiar with but I’ve never come across any Stroders and if I do, I’ve got to think they’re long-lost family.

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  48. angela said on March 25, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    My favorite great Aunt Dorothy passed in 2000 just shy of 100. One of her sisters was Florence and her brother was Donald. I miss those old fashioned names. I was delighted to meet a Martha (young!) who chose an old fashioned name for her daughter.

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  49. A Riley said on March 25, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    There are lots of heavy old-fashioned names hanging on little kids in my yuppie-stuffed Catholic parish in Chicago: Simon, Noah, Emma, Amelia, and so on. And their parents’ names are all like Bob and Linda.

    Doesn’t anyone name their kids John or Mary anymore? And when was the last time you met a Sally under the age of fifty? And I think all the Nancys I know are about the same age as our honored proprietess.

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  50. Crabby said on March 25, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    I had an Aunt Anastajia, pronounced like Anastasia but accent on the “ji” – a nice name.

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  51. LAMary said on March 25, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Hey, Riley. My kids are Tom and Pete. My nephews are Joe, Dave, Mike and John. We’re a very basic bunch.

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  52. John said on March 25, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    I have a cousin (same age as me [52]) named Standlee. There is a constant (behind the scene) debate in the family as to whether his mother knew how to spell Stanley or not.

    Nancy, don’t worry. The cousin is on my mom’s side, not the side you and I share.

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  53. brian stouder said on March 25, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    My paternal grandmother was named Maude, but she was dead ten years before I was born (I don’t think she made it much past 50); one of these days I’m gonna utilize the ACPL’s renowned geneology department, and learn more about her. She was apparently a formidable presence, back in the day (my mom, when she was a newlywed and a new mom, lived under her roof here in Fort Wayne, and they apparently had ‘creative differences’)

    Not long ago, my mom was going through old pictures, and came across an old sepia portrait of an infant, asleep in a bassinet – and saved it for me. It was my dad’s older sister (the only girl Maude gave birth to), who was still-born. (a home delivery with a midwife; my dad and his brother were both born in a hospital after that)

    I had heard of her, but it was somewhat stunning to see the portrait; it came right across 80-plus years, and packed a punch.

    And her name was Janice

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  54. Kirk said on March 25, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    Belva is interesting. One of my best friends’ mom was named Belma.

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  55. Harl Delos said on March 25, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    That “The Stuff of Thought” book by Steven Pinker has a section about how names get popular and die. He point out how television shows can make names popular, only sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

    Pinker says that Darron (in a variety of spellings) became popular in the UK in the 1960s, after “Bewitched” hit the air – but the name Maxwell (Get Smart) and Ricky (I Love Lucy) didn’t. He thinks it’s because Darron ended with an “n” sound. A third of all British boys’ names end with an n.

    I suppose that I should explain that it’s Harl and not Harlan, because it needed to rhyme with a twin named Carl. (And if you think Harl is a rotten name for a guy to get stuck with, my sister was *really* unhappy to be named Carl.)

    “Don’t name your son William. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry is called William” – Sam Goldwyn.

    I think it would have been cool to have been named Yogi. Smarter than your average shortstop, y’know, and you would have a good excuse for stealing pick-a-nick baskets.

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  56. Karen said on March 25, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    I love all these names! My mom is another Margaret, called Peggy, which I never understood. Grandma on mom’s side was Harriett, and she married Harry. Other grandma was Winifred. I don’t see either of those women’s names coming back around, but David Letterman’s son is named Harry (to bring it all together…)

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  57. LAMary said on March 25, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    I have a photo of my son Tom as a baby, sitting on my friend Harry’s lap, holding a photo of Richard Nixon. It’s the Tom, Dick and Harry shot.

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  58. sue said on March 25, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    Has anyone ever tried out the Baby Name Wizard? I don’t know how to link these things, sorry. I first saw it on Eric Zorn’s blog. It tracks name trends over the years. I think if you type in Baby Name Wizard and look for the voyager you will get to the site.

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  59. Dorothy said on March 25, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Funny, Mary!

    For some reason after reading all these entries, I keep thinking of “Goodfellas” when Lorraine Braco makes note of the fact that all the men in the family seemed to be named ‘Paul’ or ‘Paulie’ and all their wives were named ‘Marie.’

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  60. michaelj said on March 25, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    Hillarys an asshole and Obamas God. If you believe his Grandma called somebody a nigger. You’re almost too stupid too breath. He made this shit up.

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  61. Danny said on March 25, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    :::blank stare:::

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  62. nancy said on March 25, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    I’m just glad I’m Dorothy instead of Dorthea.

    Um. That’s my mother’s name. Also, my middle name. Not that I will hold your disrespect against you.

    I saw an olde-fashioned name today at the cemetery that beats ’em all: Ora Grogg. Alan’s maternal great-grandfather, I believe.

    Glad you all had such fun in the comments today. My feet hurt. I shouldn’t wear heels, really.

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  63. Danny said on March 25, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Oh, crap, Mom’s back. Quick, everyone look busy.

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  64. Edward Carney said on March 25, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    My Aunt “Dot,” born in the 1920s, was christened “Dorothy.” My Aunt “Mary,” also born in the 1920s, was christened “Margaret Mary.”

    My wife’s father was christened Walter Everett but known variously as “Walter,” “Ev,” and “Rhett.” His widow was asked by her brother-in-law why she always called his brother “Walter” instead of “Ev.” She said, “Because that was his name.”

    Was it something about the Depression era that everyone liked to try on different names? This was before there was even a radar to fly under.

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  65. moe99 said on March 25, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Drive by trolling…..

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  66. Jolene said on March 25, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    The baby name wizard that Sue mentions is a lot of fun. I’ve used it on other occasions, but, today, it keeps crashing my computer. Would be interested to see whether it works for others. As Sue says, you just need to google “baby name wizard”.

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  67. Laura said on March 25, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    My grandmother’s name was Leta Mae Grow. She married my grandfather, RB Wise, and became Leta Mae Grow Wise. Everyone called her Peg, though. Go figure.

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  68. Dave K. said on March 25, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    My mother’s name was Oretta Jayne. I remember her saying that Oretta was actually a combination of Ora and Etta, but I’m not sure who they were. Everyone knew her as Jayne and she insisted on the proper ‘y’ spelling. Most people never knew about the Oretta part.

    When she was hospitalized with a fatal case of leukemia, not long after the O.J. Simpson murder trial, one of the nurses wrote her name outside her room as O.J.!
    It didn’t take mom very long to have a “discussion” with her nurse and have the O.J. replaced with Jayne.

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  69. Peter said on March 25, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    I’m sorry I’m late to the name game, but I can top a lot of you guys – having parents from Eastern Europe will do that to you.

    I have an Uncle Bozidar, cousins Nebojsa and Zoran, and second cousins Slavin, Dortitza, Seka, Beba, and Veljko.

    But here’s my two favorite name stories:

    I didn’t know my mother’s maiden name until I was 18 and had to apply for college. It’s- are you ready – Leposava Vejmelka. Everyone I knew called her Ria.

    After we laughed that one off, she told me a story about when she was a child. Ethiopia just fell to the Italians, and the kids were playing outside. They started to taunt one kid, singing “Addis Ababa, Addis Ababa” when the next door lady came out with a broom and started hitting them. She told them “Shut up, it’s not the kid’s fault he has a stupid name!”

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  70. michaelj said on March 25, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Eric Zorn’s used to be fair. The opportunity to trash Hillary even when you make an ass of yourself, that’s hard to avoid. He can’t make an asshole of himselve relative to common sense the way Keith does, but he’s a partishanshit heal bastard. If you don’t thing so, you’re a artisan shitheel bastard/?? . There’s nothing makes Barackthe second coming, but when it seems all about race, its all mpre abpout gender, I think that that that really dislike is more about gender.

    So, what I started out to say abuopt Warren. If it makes you sad to liisten to The Wind., lieten to Eccitable Boy. Listen to it. Then listen to The Wind again. Then listen to Meuteneer. Thou, streneer:

    I think you’r missing the point. I think you can claim to be a derivative poet. I think you can nail it. I think you can say “Cast a cold eye”, and nobody’s going to touch that in about a gillion years.

    So anyway, about Warren. It’s said, but I’ll tell you what. He wrote someaid songs back in the day. Warren understood recriminations better than I could admit to. Sad songs, too, But maybe alright? My back turned, looking down the path. And as dark as possible. Warren was a warrior. I think he wasn’t a captive of any of these. I’mpretty much sure he could just make this up.

    But what I meant to say. Warren devoured the language like W.H. Auden, in my opinion. Slightlessly less mundnd, slightly more clever. He was almost A. E. Housman, and almost Lou Reed. Almost Ray Davies. Morobs

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  71. del said on March 25, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    I was named after a grandpa born in 1908. His name may have come from a Flaubert novel published in the 1860s (set in the 1840’s). I read the novel about a year ago and was shocked to see my very unusual name attached to the description: “He was proud as a peacock and stupid as a goose.” So, as Carl the Greenskeeper would say . . . I got that goin’ for me. I’ve never met another non-relative with my first name (the first three letters are Del).

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  72. michaelj said on March 25, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    One I ever meant about the

    windThuu Aind<i

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  73. Danny said on March 25, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    nk,oqsdc-[ ksdniopw, michaelj. I think the “j” must stand for jabberwocky. You crack me up, man.

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  74. Harl Delos said on March 25, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    I have a cousin (same age as me [52]) named Standlee. There is a constant (behind the scene) debate in the family as to whether his mother knew how to spell Stanley or not.

    I had a grandfather named Rily. He was named after Sir Walter Raleigh, and always knew whether it was a friend calling on the phone or a salesman, because salesmen pronounced it Rily, and friends knew to pronounce it Raleigh.

    His wife discovered when she was almost 30 that her birth certificate said “Betty”. Until then, she’d been called, and had spelled her name “Betsy”. She decided the birth certificate must be right, and changed her name to match it. Ever since I heard that story (which was after she died), I’ve always felt sad, that she let a piece of paper bully her.

    But I don’t know if Grandpa ever knew that his name was “spelled wrong”. And I figure it didn’t make any difference. He wasn’t Sir Walter, after all, but his own man.

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  75. Harl Delos said on March 25, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    I was named after a grandpa born in 1908. His name may have come from a Flaubert novel published in the 1860s (set in the 1840’s).

    Delmas, I presume.

    There’s a Delmas Typesetting company in Ann Arbor that’s been around for about 30 years. They mostly do books.

    There’s a Delmas Shipping company in France, with about 60 ships. It seems to be well-respected.

    There’s also a town in South Africa named Delmas. It’s a small farming community. That name comes from “de la mas” which would translate to “of the small farm”.

    Seems to be, like Harrigan, “a name that no shame has ever been connected with.”

    I think our names shape our character, to a certain degree. Delmas sounds like a sturdy name, not something flimsy. I think people would feel comfortable giving a loan, or a job, to someone named Delmas.

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  76. Judy said on March 25, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    I have twin boys in first grade. Their class mates are:

    Courtney (there are actually two of them)
    Colton (there are two of them!)
    Jordn (that is how it’s spelled)

    I gues we are the unimaginative parents. Our boys are Michael and Jonathan.

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  77. Dorothy said on March 25, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    I bow before thee, Nancy Dorthea, and beg forgiveness for dissing the “Dorthea”!! (Is this what you were alluding to earlier, oh John??!?!?! Ya coulda warned me ya know!)

    And Danny I can’t stop laughing at your comment at 5:59 PM. I’m gonna laugh myself to sleep now…

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  78. del said on March 25, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    Harl, you’re good. Hey, no fair, you googled it!
    My wife’s cousin was Brian Studer, Brian Stouder.
    Chuckles the clown was very funny. On Seinfeld Jerry forget a girlfriend’s name, rhymed with a female body part . . . . . .
    uh, Delores!

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  79. John said on March 25, 2008 at 9:26 pm


    Dorothy…It was more fun to see you keep going. You should have asked who I thought might get steamed.

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  80. joe k said on March 25, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    This may be a bit off subject but, If a republican said he was shot at by a sniper and it was proven not true the media would crucify the guy, yet Hillery says she misspoke and they give here a pass??? How the hell can you misspeak about something like that???

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  81. moe99 said on March 25, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    Del, that’s my middle name, which is why I go by moe on the internets.

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  82. Deborah said on March 25, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    My grandmother on my mother’s side, Matilda Musch married my grandfather, Henry Heine, to become Matilda Musch Heine, this usually results in gales of laughter from friends when they hear it. You have to know how to pronounce it properly in German to get it. When I am asked to reveal my mother’s maiden name by credit card companies to identify me and I quietly say Heine, you should hear how they try to surpress their glee.

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  83. Jolene said on March 25, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    Who says they’re giving her a pass, Joe? You heard about it, didn’t you? It was on cable news all day today, in the Washington Post, in the NYTimes. Isn’t that enough?

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  84. Kafkaz said on March 25, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    I once met an Aunt Violet. Alas, she wasn’t mine. An Auntie Vi would, I think, be nice to have.

    My paternal grandfather’s name was Oral.

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  85. whitebeard said on March 25, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    I have a grandson, who lives us, and he is called Ishmael; but wait, I have another grandson who lives in Canada and he is also called Ishmael

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  86. MaryC said on March 25, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    I mentioned this discussion to my mom and she reminded me that her mom’s best friend was named Electa. Fairly popular name around the turn of the century apparently — it’s from somewhere in the Bible and means “the chosen one”.

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  87. Harl Delos said on March 26, 2008 at 12:50 am

    Harl, you’re good. Hey, no fair, you googled it!

    When one suffers from Old-timer’s Syndrome (or is it Angry Cow Disease? I can never remember), one learns to use every available tool to compensate.

    In fact, I tried to google it, but I still couldn’t figure out what your name must be. I had download Gutenberg Project files, and grep for your name.

    Electa. Fairly popular name around the turn of the century apparently — it’s from somewhere in the Bible and means “the chosen one”.

    I like that name.

    I don’t like most of these “modern” names that are meaningless sounds. On the theory that the acorn doesn’t fall far from the oak, though, recycling a family name from three or four generations back not only gives the kid a distinctive name, but one that probably is fitting.

    Mom had a friend, Iona Ford, who married Mr. Carr. Interestingly enough, Mr. Carr was a Ford dealer – but it was a Ford tractor dealer.

    Monday night on Leno, he was making fun of an “Ima Hogg” concert being held in Houston. You’d think he would know who Ms. Hogg was. Her father was Governor of the state of Texas, and she was one of the state’s greatest philanthropists of the 20th century. She died in 1975, but it seems nasty to insult someone who has done so much for so many.

    Life ain’t easy for a boy named Sue.

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  88. Linda said on March 26, 2008 at 6:52 am

    BTW, Ima was named after the heroine in a Civil War poem that her uncle wrote. I guess he never thought about how that would sound with his last name. Something for parents to think about! But once you’ve donated millions and made the arts and health in your native state much better for your philanthropy, such things are minor.

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  89. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 26, 2008 at 7:25 am

    When will the “Today” show change their name to “Day Before Yesterday in the New York Times”? They had Billy on this morning, and all i’ll say today is that is one good lawyer, and Fayetteville is gonna settle with the family if they know what’s good for them.

    But mom confirmed for me that her deal is that she wants to know and see the punishment meted out to those who harmed her boy — and that’s never gonna happen. She’s convinced they aren’t doing enough, and i’m guessing the school believes they’re doing as much as they should . . . and i would bet you *cash* that the family has been offered mediation and refused, because her boy is the victim and the others are bullies.

    Despite 47 true and troubling stories from those of us who have been bullied, the world just won’t neatly sort into bullies who deserve harsh punishment and victims who need more protection. I know i was innocent and beat up and tormented by mean, brutal kids, but looking back, i see what their home situation was, and i’m here to tell you “more punishment” isn’t going to get them to stop doing at the bus stop what happened to them at bedtime last night.

    Just did a mediation where two of the three sets of parents involved were present for a “scheduled” fight after school, cheering on their kids from the porch. When pressed, they offered their fairly sincere belief that “the boys just needed to get it out of ’em; it would just get worse if they stayed mad [over girlfriend switching allegiance], and this was the best way forward.”

    Y’know, they really did believe that. Their probation officer confirmed that they lived it, too. We talked about “alternative dispute resolution,” and there was some interest, but not a great deal.

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  90. Jen said on March 26, 2008 at 7:58 am

    Dave, I always liked the way grandma spelled her name – “Jayne.” For years I thought that was the only way to spell it.

    I think you’re right that no one knew her “real” first name was Oretta, though. I looked up her obituary in the paper on a slow day not too long ago and she was listed as Jayne, with no mention of “Oretta” anywhere. I always thought Oretta was kind of a neat name, too, though.

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  91. del said on March 26, 2008 at 8:19 am

    Mary C, at least they didn’t name her Electra.

    Jeff, the parents were present for the pre-scheduled fight? Good Lord. Where, in tarnation, do you live? Which reminds me of my conversation with my cousin from Portsmouth OH. She assured me that Ironton is pronounced “Rnton.”

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  92. Dorothy said on March 26, 2008 at 8:27 am

    Del does your cousin pronounce her town name as “Porch-myth” like they do in Portsmouth, Virginia? My daughter lives near there and I’m amused that they pronounce it like that.

    Jeff – my son just started a new job as a probation officer this week. Yesterday he was issued handcuffs, a badge and a bullet proof vest. That last one really gave me pause. I’m going to try not to think about that vest too much if I can help it.

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  93. del said on March 26, 2008 at 8:39 am

    Dorothy, my cousin’s a transplant from Ann Arbor so she doesn’t say it that way, but I’ll have to mess with her some more about Porch-myth.

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  94. Dave said on March 26, 2008 at 10:15 am

    All my family comes from Scioto County, where Portsmouth is but I’ve never heard that pronounciation, it’s Ports-muth. Pretty county, depressing area, can’t imagine how your cousin got there from Ann Arbor, Del, anything to do with Shawnee State, by chance? (Floodwall Tech).

    I forgot to mention that one great-grandfather was named Fernando Cortez White, called Cort, named for a family friend, no Spanish connections that anyone is aware of, and another named Robert Lee Bradbury, Robert Lee for Robert E. Lee, his father an unwavering Confederacy veteran. I’m betting there were a number of post-Civil War sons named something similar.

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  95. Harl Delos said on March 26, 2008 at 10:19 am

    Yesterday he was issued handcuffs, a badge and a bullet proof vest.

    God bless your son. I hope he learns to love his work.

    Your son will tell you that vest isn’t much protection. It’s like a string tied around your finger – a reminder that you don’t want people shooting.

    Probation officers don’t exist to send people back to prison; they were there in the first place, and we could have kept them there. His job is to help people stay out of prison, and to become happy and productive taxpayers.

    And the more taxes his clients have to pay, the happier everyone is. (I’d love to need to pay a million dollars yearly in income taxes, wouldn’t you?)

    Police officers are taught to inflict pain in order to get compliance, and to increase pain until compliance occurs. I suppose that’s OK if you never see the person again – but a probation officer isn’t in that situation. You don’t want clients obsessing on getting even.

    My wife works as therapeutic support staff, dealing with dangerous clients all the time, and she rarely gets hurt. She says her clients rarely get any respect, so she starts by treating them like they were (gasp) actually human. Then she figures how what they want (she has to, imagine, actually listen) and then help the client get what he wants. It doesn’t always work, but it works often enough that they end up sticking my wife with the toughest cases they have.

    As Claire Booth Luce said, no good deed goes unpunished.

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  96. del said on March 26, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Dave, you’re right, my cousin’s husband is in the music department at Shawnee state. He also grew up there and his mom was, I am told, a well known radio dj.

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  97. Suzi said on March 30, 2008 at 11:56 am

    My Dad had 3 aunts with wonderful names – Vida Glo, Emma Flo and Stella Zoe. He & Mom knew Aunt Stella the best. She was a generous, kind-hearted farm lady in Kewana, Indiana. We also have Eldon, Milo, Winifred, Aunt Gussie, Uretta and Myrtle in our family tree.

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