This might be my favorite photo on the entire internet.
The shot, which depicts a playful little Texas boy pretending to ride a dead catfish on someone’s front porch, was taken by photographer Neal Douglass in April of 1941.
The Portal to Texas History calls it “Mrs. Bill Wright; Boy Riding Catfish.” So I’m guessing that “Mrs. Bill Wright” was the boy’s mother. But there’s no other identifying information, so I don’t know the boy’s name, nor do I have any way of tracking it down.
So let’s turn this into a name game!
First, let’s suppose our little catfish-rider was not named “Bill” (or “William,” or “Willie,” etc.) after his father. With that rule in place, here are the questions:
What do you think Mrs. Bill Wright named her son?
What would you have named him?
Just for reference, popular names for Texas newborns in the late ’30s included:
For extra credit, what do you think the boy named his catfish? And, what would you have named his catfish? ;)
I searched historical records for personal names including the word “snow,” and here’s some of what I spotted…
I found dozens of people named Snowball, including Snowball Craddock (female), born in 1915 in North Carolina. Here she is on the 1930 U.S. Census:
I found several people named Snowdrift, including Arthur Snowdrift Thornton (male), born in 1883 in Virginia.
I found dozens people named Snowflake, including Snowflake Reinke (female), born in 1907 in North Dakota. Here she is on the 1910 U.S. Census:
Notice how her older siblings have traditional names like Maria and Ludwig (their parents were immigrants from Germany) whereas she and her younger brother, “Theo. Roosevelt,” have much more creative/American names.
(By the way, did you that there’s a town in Arizona with the unlikely name Snowflake? The founders were a pair of Mormon pioneers named Erastus Snow and William Jordan Flake.)
I found dozens people named Snowman, including Snowman W. Doe (male), born in 1924 in Massachusetts. Here he is on the 1930 U.S. Census:
I found several people named Snowstorm, including Snow Storm Stokes (male), born in 1906 in Arkansas.
My dad came out to visit us in Colorado recently. He loves geology, so we made sure to take him to several different places with impressive rocks/terrain.
One place we visited was Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. In this park we spotted the above sign, which described how the park got its name back in the 1850s:
As they looked over this area of cathedral-like rock spires, one man, Malancthon Beach, commented that the spot would be a great place for a beer garden someday. His friend, a poetic young man named Rufous Cable, replied that it was a place “fit for the Gods.”
It’s a cool story, but, to me, that first name “Malancthon” is way more interesting than the origin of the park name. Where did it come from?
My best guess is that Malancthon is a tribute to 16th-century German theologian Philipp Melanchthon, one of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation. His surname at birth was Schwartzerd (“black earth” in German), but as a young man he Latinized his name to the classical equivalent Melanchthon (“black earth” in Greek).
We also saw some names at Red Rocks, which is both a park and a famous amphitheater.
The amphitheater was constructed from 1936 to 1941 by men in the Civilian Conservation Corps, a work relief program that existed during the Great Depression. One display included a photo of 124 of the men in the local CCC. Here are their first names, sorted by frequency: