Years ago I posted about Livonia, a baby both born on and named after a Pullman car. Recently I wondered: What other Pullman car names would have made good baby names?
So I downloaded a big spreadsheet of over 12,000 Pullman car names from The Pullman Project and was slightly surprised to see that thousands of them could have been baby names, if we allow for the splitting of compound car names (like Fort Miley, Glen Norman, Meredith College, and West Willow).
Here are a handful of examples. On the left are relatively common/familiar names, and on the right are some unexpected choices.
Marion and Charlotte “Lottie” Story of Bakersfield, California, had at least 22 children — including five sets of twins — from 1922 to 1946. Seventeen of their kids are listed on the 1940 U.S. Census (at right).
I don’t know the names of all the Story children, but here are 20 of them: Jean, Jane, Jack, Jacqueline, June, Eileen, Clyde, Robert, James, Jeannette, Steve, Jerry, Terry (sometimes “Terrytown”), Charlotte, Scotty, Sherrie, Garry, Joanne, Frances (called Lidwina), and Monica (called Sandy).
Charlotte Story herself was one of a dozen children, born from 1899 to 1919. Her 11 siblings were named Pearl, George, Rhea, Hazel, Fern, Ira, Myrtle, Dorothy, Helen, Russell, and Viola.
And Charlotte’s mother Elsie was one of 13 children, born from 1865 to 1892. Her 12 siblings were named Edward, Levi, William, Frank, Rosa, Joseph, Mary, Elizabeth, Margaret, Archibald, Gertrude, and Emma.
So here’s the question: If you had to choose all of your own children’s names from just one of the sibsets above, which set would you pick? Why?
Today marks the 86th anniversary of the discovery of Pluto.
One thing I’ve always found interesting about the former planet is that its discovery/naming involve a string of people who all happen to have memorable names: Percival, Vesto, Clyde, Herbert, Falconer, and Venetia.
Businessman and astronomer Percival Lowell began looking for the trans-Neptunian planet he’d postulated — “Planet X” — in the early 1900s at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona Territory. Even after he died in 1916, Observatory staff kept up the search.
Young astronomer Clyde W. Tombaugh, using photos taken by the Observatory’s astrograph, finally made the discovery on February 18, 1930. The existence of a ninth planet was announced to the public on March 13, which would have been Percival Lowell’s 75th birthday. It was also the anniversary of the discovery of Uranus (in 1781).
Now it was up to the director of Lowell Observatory, astronomer Vesto M. Slipher, to name the new planet.
Soon suggestions indeed poured in from all quarters: Cronus, Odin, Persephone, Erebos, Atlas, Prometheus…the list seemed endless. One young couple even wrote to Tombaugh asking that the planet be named after their newborn child!
The suggestion Slipher liked best was “Pluto.” Not only was Pluto one of the few good names from classical mythology not already in use (Pluto was the ruler of the underworld) but its first two letters coincided with Percival Lowell’s initials.
Ostensibly the suggestion had come to Slipher via telegram from Oxford astronomer Herbert Hall Turner, who was passing it along for retired Bodleian Librarian Falconer Madan, who had gotten it from his 11-year-old granddaughter Venetia Burney, who’d come up with it over breakfast the day after the discovery was announced.
Nowadays it’s hard to believe that Venetia was the very first person to propose the name Pluto. Astronomers at the Brera Observatory in Milan, for instance, had nicknamed the planet Pluto soon after it was discovered. (And Slipher was no doubt aware of this.)
Nevertheless, when Slipher used the name in print for the first time on May 1, he gave Venetia Burney full credit. On May 25, the planet was officially named Pluto.
Today’s question: Which of the male names above do you like best? Vote below, then tell me why in the comments.
Clyde and Dorothy Popp of Missouri had a baby boy in 1952 and named him Soda.
Yup — Soda Popp.
When Soda Popp was enrolled in school, it made the news:
Jefferson City, Mo., May 15 (AP) Soda Popp, 5, has been enrolled for kindergarten here next year.
And he’s been in the news quite a bit since, thanks to his memorable name.
In a 2003 interview with the Kansas City Star, he had this to say about it:
“I tell folks I have a sister named Lolly,” he said with a laugh. “And that I have twin sons, Snap and Crackle.”
That’s fiction, of course. But his name? That’s pure fact, he insists.
“My mom wanted to give me a name that would stand out – something unusual; something folks wouldn’t forget,” he said.
It’s worked. “People say, ‘How could your parents name you that?’ But I’m glad they did. My name has opened a lot of doors for me.”
A writer for the Topeka Capital-Journal spent a few days with Soda Popp in 2007. He said Soda was often forced to produce his driver’s license to prove his name really was “Soda Popp.”
What do you think of the name “Soda Popp” — cool, or cruel?
P.S. Soda Popp reminds me of two names I’ve seen on the 1940 census: R C Cola Osbey, a 21-year-old man in Texas, and Seven Up Stubin, a 22-year-old man in South Carolina. (And Seven Up Stubin reminds me of Lemon Lime Clay.)
“A Little Drink.” Milwaukee Sentinel 16 May 1957: 2.
Frazee, Brent. “Refreshing Soda: Yes, his name is really ‘Soda Popp.'” Kansas City Star 25 May 2003: C14.