Mystery Monday: Shurla

The baby name Shurla was an impressive one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data in 1961:

  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: 17 baby girls named Shurla [debut]
  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: unlisted

Where did it come from? I haven’t been able to figure that out yet.

The name Shirley, which had been extremely popular in the 1930s, was trending downward by the 1960s. The sound-alike names Sherla or Shirla did not see a uptick in usage in 1961. And the somewhat similar name Shirelle, though it debuted the same year (thanks to girl-group The Shirelles), is probably not the cause.

Vital records indicate that the 1961 Shurlas were born in various places in the U.S., so they weren’t clustered in a specific region. (Here are two of them: one from Missouri, the other from Maryland originally but buried in Kansas.)

Do you have any idea where this one might have come from? (News? Television?)

Name Poll: Girl Names from 1941

girls, 18, radio station
Six 18-year-old women from Omaha, 1941

Omaha’s WOW radio station went on the air on April 2, 1923. The day it turned 18, the station threw a party and invited six teenage girls who were born in Omaha on the very same day.

The young lassies shown toasting WOW with a glass of punch and a piece of birthday cake are, left to right: Blanche Zaloudek, Roslyn Levy, Jacqueline Giles, Helen Rummelhart, Elaine Kinzli, and De Lorse McCarty.

My guess is that “De Lorse” is a variant of Delores, which was trendy in the 1920s.

Which name do you like best?

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The cool call letters “WOW” were a reference to Omaha’s Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society, which owned the radio station.

Source: “”Sextuplets” Guests at Radio WOW Birthday Part.” Radio News Tower [Omaha, Nebraska] 1 May 1941: 1.

The Trouble with Facundo

In the 1950s, Ramón Sanchez was a Mexican-American student attending elementary school in southern California.

By the second grade, his name had been Anglicized to “Raymond.” Similarly, students named Maria and Juanita had become “Mary” and “Jane.”

Then a new student named Facundo [fah-COON-do] arrived.

When he came to school we noticed they called an emergency administrative meeting. You could kind of hear them talking through the door, you know, “What are we going to do with this guy, man? How are we going to change his name?”

Someone suggested that they shorten Facundo to “Fac,” but it was decided that “Fac” was too close to a dirty word.

You can’t be saying ‘Fac where’s your homework,’ ‘Where’s Fac at,’ you know what I mean?

And so, at Ramón’s elementary school, Facundo ended up being the only kid who never got his name changed.

The Spanish/Portuguese name Facundo comes from the Roman name Facundus. In Latin, facundus means “eloquent, fluent.”

Source: Ramón “Chunky” Sanchez – StoryCorps

The Name Kaseem

kaseem, jungle jim

Jungle Jim started as a comic strip in the mid-1930s. The titular character, Jim Bradley, was an American hunter living in the jungles of Southeast Asia. Another main character was his native sidekick, Kolu.

Jungle Jim stories were adapted for radio, film, and eventually a short-lived television series consisting of 26 episodes that aired from 1955 to 1956. The TV show introduced several new characters, including a boy named Skipper, a chimp named Tamba, and a new native sidekick named Kaseem. (Many sources called him a “Hindu manservant.”)

The show didn’t do much for the names Skipper or Tamba, but it did boost the name Kaseem up over the SSA’s 5-baby threshold for the first time:

  • 1958: unlisted
  • 1957: 11 baby boys named Kaseem [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted

Incidentally, in the 1956 movie Zarak included a character named Kasim. And, surprisingly, Kaseem wasn’t the only turbaned man on TV influencing baby names in the ’50s — check out Korla.

Source: Don Markstein’s Toonopedia: Jungle Jim

Names in the News: Aneurin, Onyx, Suharsi

Some recent and not-so-recent baby names from the news…

Ambre (rejected): A baby boy born in France in January of 2018 was almost named Ambre (French for “amber”) but the French government rejected the name, claiming it could cause gender confusion. (The Local)

Aneurin: A baby boy born in Wales on June 26, 2018 — days before the 70th anniversary of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), founded by Aneurin “Nye” Bevan — was named Aneurin. (South Wales Echo)

Carson*: A baby boy born in Pennsylvania in July of 2018 was named after Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. (CBS)

  • “Pennsylvania Hospital has also had several babies named Carson lately. And one girl named Kelce, spelled like Jason Kelce.” (ABC, Oct. 2018)

Casey: A baby boy born in Kentucky in August of 2018 was named Jaxon Casey, middle name in honor of Kentucky’s “Casey’s law,” which the parents credit for saving each of their lives. (Courier Journal)

Foles*: A baby born in Philadelphia in October of 2018 was named Layla Grace Foles, second middle name in honor of Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles. (ABC)

Lily: A baby girl born in England in June of 2018 was named Lily after her 96-year-old great-great-grandmother Lily. (Leigh Journal)

Murren: A baby girl born in North Carolina in April of 2017 was named Tessa Murren, middle name in honor of the Swiss mountain village in which she was likely conceived. (The Local)

Onyx: A baby boy born in Idaho in April of 2018 — to a couple walking across the U.S. from Georgia to Oregon — was named Onyx “after the healing stone, which represents overcoming fear.” (Idaho Press)

Rachel: A baby girl born in Scotland in July of 2018 was named Ashley Rachel, middle in honor of Rachel Mackie, the ambulance technician who delivered her en route to the hospital. (BBC)

Suharsi: A baby girl born aboard the Indonesian hospital ship KRI Dr. Soeharso in October of 2018 was named Suharsi, “a feminine adaptation of Soeharso.” (Daily Mail)

Zeppelin: A baby boy born in the U.S. in December of 2016 was named Zeppelin after the zeppelin bend, inspired by the fact that his umbilical chord was knotted at birth. (USA Today)

  • Zeppelin is the son of actors Jensen Ackles and Danneel Harris. He has a twin sister named Arrow. (Danneel’s name was inspired by Danneel Street in New Orleans, btw.)

*Philadelphia hospitals are now preparing for a Super Bowl baby boom