Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Sunday, March 30, 2008


My husband, Alan, and I were watching the tail end of the Rutgers University Women's NCAA tournament game. Remembering Wabi Sabi Girl's comments about her as-yet-unborn child's name (should it be a girl) I was thinking, she could do worse -- much, much worse than the name (Guiliana) that she has picked. I actually think Guiliana is a beautiful name, sort of like my granddaughter's name (Elliana).

We talked about the names our family have picked for our grandchildren and the names we chose for our children and the names my ancestors and Alan's ancestors gave their children.

Several of my grandchildren are being called by the middle name given them. For example, Elizabeth Anne is Annie, Victoria Grace is Gracie, Evelyn Rose is Rosie. So why give them a first name knowing they were never going to use it? Well, Gracie is not Victoria because we already had a Victoria in the family, but my daughter loved the name and had chosen it years ago, long before the first Victoria was born. Annie was named Annie because, well, she's an Annie, not an Elizabeth, Eliza, Liz, Beth, or Betty. You look at her, and know, her name is Annie. Regarding Rosie. I think we knew all along she was going to be Rosie, but Rose Evelyn wasn't as rhythmic as Evelyn Rose, so we just called her Rosie from the first day she entered this world.

My husband's name is Robert Alan. Those that love him call him Alan, because his dad's name was Robert (Bob) and they didn't want to confuse the two, they started calling him Alan. So this middle name business is not new to our family. Alan was Alan when I met him, but he went to college and there was another Alan in his dorm room so he went over to Bob (Robert) and in the army he was known as Robert A. Hahn, so he kept Bob throughout his working career. You see? Those that know him call him Bob, but those that love him (family) call him Alan.

My brother is John Mark -- we called him Mark. My mom wasn't overly fond of the name John, but my father wanted him called John Mark (after that person in the Bible of the same name), and I believe my father called him John Mark a lot. The rest of us called him Mark or Markie. He's now John to most people. When he went to college, it was easier not to explain to people that your mom didn't like the name she had given you, and so he went by the name he had to put on those numerous forms you fill out each semester. Thus, he was known as John. His wife calls him John, his parishioners call him John, the family still calls him Mark.

My name is Judith Anne. Judith was the name I was called when I was in trouble, although, I don't think my father ever called me anything but Judith. I went by Judi as long as I can remember, although I spelled my name Judy until it dawned on me that I wanted to be a little more unique, and so I changed it to Judi and told people I just cut off the "th". I'm not especially fond of my name and requested that none of my grandchildren have Judith as any part of their name. Fortunately, my children agreed with me.

Cyndi (Cynthia Rose) was "girl" for five days. We were expecting a boy, and had a boy's name picked for her. So it took us a bit of time before we named her. Oh, yeah, back when my children were born, we were in the hospital for five days. A bit overdone, but when you had two toddlers to come home to, I suppose it was for the best.

Anyway, the names the Rutgers players had (which started the whole conversation) were names that were, shall we say, a bit unusual? Here's the list Essense, Epiphanny, Rashidat, Matee (I assume that's pronounced mat tee, but it could be mat tay), Mijia, Khadijah, Kellisdra, Judith, and Heather. Even spell-checker doesn't recognize seven of the nine.

So the next time you think you have a horrible name, or don't like your name, or want to change your name, or are naming a child, just get out the old spill and spell container, throw the letters on the table, and whatever appears, that's the name you use.

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