Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I don't specifically follow the celebrity gossip circus that seems to be prevalent today not only on the Internet but also in the daily newspapers (much to my chagrin). But it is hard to avoid seeing that new little babies are being assigned some strange names. I think of Apple, Zuma, Suri, and Rumer, for a start, although Rumer is not exactly a baby anymore. And I have to remember that Moon Unit Zappa was rather unusual in its day too.

And I remember that in 1956, when my husband and I chose Sean for the name of our firstborn, my mother in law said she would never call him that; instead she would call him Robert, which was his middle name. Aside from the fact that she was from a tiny town in southern Tennessee, there really were no Seans around to speak of, except for the Irish Playwright Sean O'Casey, which is where we got the name.

While we sometimes scratch our heads at the strange and remarkable names our celebrities name their children, in some indexing I am doing for the FamilySearch.com website, I have found some names of yore that can top any current expression. These date generally in the period from 1870 to 1890. Can you beat these?

For females: Philander, Alfaralta, Union V., Paradine. For males: Dilador, Previs, Huricha, Linguilla. I found a Sandusky Casto (a male, I suppose) and a Larkin Stark. I have found women named America, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. I do think most of these are more bizarre than today's selections.

I had an uncle who was named Nevalyn and most of the time he appeared on a census as Evalyn and as a female. As it happened, he was gay and one wonders if his name had anything to do with it.

My dad's best friend, Wilmer Funk, was called "Son" by his family and that name spilled over to his friends. Dad and mom called him Son, and since in my day children didn't call adults their given names, my sis and I had to call him Uncle Son. Which didn't mean anything to us then but later we had good laughs over it. And my own father, who was so reluctant to become a grandfather (or at least to be called a grandfather), had his grandchildren call him Uncle Granddad.

I do think names and naming is a very interesting subject. I hesitate to pass judgment on other's choice of names: I had my fun (with Sean, Erin, Bryn and Kerry) and I say let other people have their own fun, even if I think it is pretty darn strange sometimes!

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