Thursday, November 12, 2009

James Riddle, Robert Strange

How and why do their parents do it? Maybe it’s in honor of someone, but don’t they realize what their kids will be saddled with for the rest of their lives?

Jimmy Hoffa’s middle name is “Riddle.” I don’t know why and haven’t been able to find out, but it could be worse. The biggest riddle, of course, is what happened to the guy and where his remains are. A fellow near me says he knows and wrote a book about it, “I Hear You Paint Houses,” a reference to Mafia shootings.

Defense Secretary Robert Strange McNamara went through school, the presidency of Ford Motors and sending thousands of Vietnam troops to their death when he knew we couldn’t win. That was, indeed, strange, Strange. When his son found out about the Old Man’s war record, the kid promptly disowned him; later reconciled, I think.

Mr. and Mrs. Landis named their son after Kenesaw Mountain (a variant spelling, for you purists). He had a mixed career as a jurist and got his way as baseball commissioner. He was not as big as his name might suggest (and as I always imagined him), but a spare, average-sized fellow. Maybe Kennesaw Mountain itself wasn’t that big.

Vermont Connecticut Royster (journalist and editor) was part of his great-grandfather’s tradition of naming family members after states: Arkansas Delaware Royster, Wisconsin Illinois Royster, Oregon Minnesota Royster, and Iowa Michigan Royster. Most of them used their initials; he used Vermont C. Royster, lived and died in Raleigh NC.


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