Saturday, June 17, 2006

What Name Do We Give The Baby?

My brother was named after his father, middle name and all. I was to be named after the saint on whose day I was born; that was all well and good, except I came real early and ended up on some African saint's day. That wouldn't do, so I was named after two brothers who were close family friends.

You see, in the Catholic Church, you have to be named after a saint. Any one will do, just as long as it's a saint's name. You may really be named after your aunt or uncle, some close friend or a currently-popular entertainer; as long as there was a saint with that name, you are home safe. If your first name is Moon Unit or Dweezil, your middle name had to be a saint's ... just sneak it in there somewhere.

So the parents go through the book of baby names and, I am sure, often the grandmothers stick their pointed noses in there and make some pointed demands, as well. There is the kid, stuck with some ancient uncle's 1870's name: Ebeneezer Socrates Cooper, for instance. (I do, in fact, know someone whose father wanted, and got, a son named Socrates.) Or something nuts, like musician Frank Zappa’s kids in the previous paragraph.

Our name is, really, the only thing we have. We might run through half a dozen or more cars in our lifetime, we might have many addresses and as many jobs; everything about us may change, but the one constant is our name. We can change it, but someone will know us "before." We meet; "You're Wilda Carten? Weren't you Wilda Vail before you married?" Or the newspapers will say, "Rap artist KK5 (real name Joe Smith) was arrested...."

Why not ask the baby about to be born? Ok, the kid's not about to answer, but you and your Significant Other can sit back on the couch and say, "What do you think the Little One would like to be called when he or she is a teen or an adult?" Do you think they'd like to be saddled with your identity from day one, or would they like to start out with their own? How will the cute, unique spelling go over in the professional world 25 years from now? Well, ask yourselves -- would you want to be stuck forever with what you're going to hang on your kid?

I always wondered what happened to Socrates Fronhofer. I see an arm wrestling champion from his state on the Internet; it’s probably him, so apparently he's ok with the name.


Blogger Cold Josh Vail said...

Been quite awhile now since we have had to choose a name for a baby, but at 68 if we ever have another one it definitely will be baptized Houdini Vail, regardless of the gender.

If you look over the baptismal records back to the days when if you had a horse you were pretty well off, you might find two boys with the same name in the same family. These names were given in honour of the grandfather and being as how the old dude was so revered, they would give his name, in a few cases anyway to two of the sons. The reason for this was because of the high rate of infant mortality.

Around here it was stylish at a certain time, to name a newborn after the saint whose name was that of the child's village. I know a fellow named Chrysostôme Plante, who was born and still yet lives in St-Jean Chrysostôme. There are many fellows who were named Lévis, after the neighboring town. I once saw a Charny Dufour in the obits..who lived in...yep Charny.

Josh is a nickname, but the predominent name related to the Vail family was Jeremiah. It started out in England in about 1618. five generations later, the name of Jeremiah was still in there.

I'm wondering what would have happened if people in smaller towns across America had adopted this stylish way of naming their kids, by using the town's name. would you let your daughter marry a guy named Intercourse Yoder? Or your son marry a girl from Maine, Portland Jenny Tibbets?

June 17, 2006 6:03 PM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

There is a gentleman of somewhat advanced age, is or was a writer and radio commentator. His name is Vermont Connecticut Royster. He goes by Vermont C. Royster.

You may remember a previous commissioner of baseball, Kennesaw Mountain Landis. He was named for Kennesaw Mountain, down south somewhere.

June 17, 2006 6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Then of course there are the names which explain why some children grow up to murder their parents (I'm kidding of course).

I personally know a man named Peter Leek, and a woman named Candy whose brothers are Cliff, Rocky, and Stone. Their surname? Mountain.

I was born and raised Roman Catholic, my name is Sherilyn and there are no Saints with my name as far as I know. Perhaps my mom forsaw something as I am no longer RC. But! My middle name is Ann. ;-)

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