The movie-inspired baby name Rawnie from a few weeks ago reminded me of the baby names Roni and Roni Sue, neither of which I’ve posted about yet. So today let’s check out Roni, which saw a spike in usage in the mid-1950s:
- 1958: 89 baby girls named Roni
- 1957: 94 baby girls named Roni
- 1956: 134 baby girls named Roni (ranked 864th)
- 1955: 295 baby girls named Roni (ranked 536th) [peak usage]
- 1954: 70 baby girls named Roni
- 1953: 49 baby girls named Roni
What was the cause?
A feel-good news story about a 17-month-old Greek orphan named Roni Marie. She was being adopted by childless Texas couple Norman and Helen Donahoe in very early 1955. (This is how the story managed to slightly increase the usage of Roni among 1954 babies.)
Norman, a Navy lieutenant, “took his Christmas leave to hitchhike to Athens for the brown eyed foundling.” He spent 3 weeks in Greece finalizing the adoption.
Once Roni was his, the pair set off on the return trip, which lasted from January 8 to January 13.
“Roni Marie’s trip to the U.S. became somewhat of a diaper derby for Lieutenant Donahoe…he was rapidly running out of disposable diapers and he worried about the dwindling supply. But he was able to add to his diaper stock during a stopover in Morocco.”
LIFE Magazine, a little late to the party, printed a short blurb about the Donahoes on January 24.
So how do you feel about the name Roni? Do you like it any more or less than Rawnie?
P.S. A follow-up article published in 1961 revealed that Norman and Helen had gone on to adopt one more Greek orphan, Steven, and then have two biological children, Eloni [sic?] and Donald. (I’m assuming Eloni’s name was really Eleni, which is a Greek form of Helen.)
- “Cry from an Immigrant.” LIFE 24 Jan. 1955: 48.
- “Donahoe Family Grows.” Daytona Beach Morning Journal 16 Jun. 1961: 1.
- “Greek-Born Lass Meets Foster Mom.” Toledo Blade 14 Jan. 1955: 3.
- “Hitching Yank and His Baby Halted in Italy.” Chicago Sunday Tribune 9 Jan. 1955: 38.