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:
Every generation’s baby names are the refuse of terrible literature. It is a tradition of long standing.
Maybe it’s not so bad. This is one of the major incentives to write fiction: to take up residency in the minds of others, to make your story a part of their stories, to run into crops of little Anakins at recess or drive the name Joffrey to extinction, all through the power of your storytelling.
The generic name “Pol” for a parrot can be traced back to England since at least the early 1600s. In his 1606 comedy Volpone, Renaissance playwright — and close friend of William Shakespeare — Ben Jonson assigned many of the characters animal personas which reflected their true nature.
Two comic relief-type characters, Sir Politic Would-Be (“Sir Pol” for short) and his wife, are visitors from England who are trying to ingratiate themselves into Venetian society, and they do so by simply mimicking the words and behavior of Volpone and his associates. Because of their endearing ignorance of what they are actually saying when they repeat phrases they’ve learned, Jonson describes them as parrots.
It is unclear whether Jonson actually coined the term “Pol” as a catch-all moniker for parrots, or if he simply popularized it. In any case, indulgent British pet owners eventually turned “Pol” into the much cutesier diminutive “Polly,” and both names made their way across the Atlantic.
In an ideal world, the baby’s name is between my husband and me, and it shouldn’t bother me what other people think about it. I’ve shared with family and close friends the name(s) we’re thinking about, and gotten mixed reviews. Which is fine. I asked because I value their opinions.
But I’m already a hormonal mess most days. I just don’t want to hear from an acquaintance that she used to know a kid with my favorite baby name who grew up to be a meth dealer, or from a stranger at the grocery store who had an extremely overweight uncle with the same name “but he was a really nice person.”
Jeremiah and Carrie Rosson of Kellyville chose the name Elijah Gust for their 17-month-old because of its biblical roots and because the weather-influenced middle name paired well with their four-year-old son Josiah Thunder’s name.
“There is a verse in the 2 Kings that says Elijah was swept up in a gust,” Jeremiah Rosson said of the inspiration for their younger son’s name.
(Hundreds of baby boys in the U.S. have been named Thunder, btw.)
From the book Germaine Greer: Untamed Shrew by Christine Wallace:
In the autumn of 1938 came the first conception. Peggy’s pregnancy was easy, with little more than queasiness. But the labor was long and difficult. The baby, a girl, was bruised around the head from the traumatic delivery and arrived in floods of blood as Peggy hemorrhaged from a retained placenta. The baby was named Germaine, with no middle initial to interrupt the elegant alliteration with Greer. According to Peggy, it was the name of a minor British actress she found in an English magazine Reg had brought home from work. In Germaine’s version, her mother was reading George Sand’s The Countess of Rudolstadt when she fell pregnant, and drew the name from one of its characters, the Comte de Saint-Germain — `because she liked the sound of it, I reckon.’ It was the height of the last Australian summer before the war: 29 January 1939.
From the book Descendants of David McWhirter and Mary Posten (Vol. 1) by Patricia Lynn Petitt:
Alexander, the eldest son, died at the age of twenty-two, before he had graduated from Princeton. About two months after his death another son was born to Hugh and Jean. This baby was named “Alexander” after his deceased brother, but his name was not allowed to bespoken in the family until he was several months old. This son became the Rev. Dr. Alexander McWhirter of Revolutionary fame.
No one can pronounce my name correctly. Most people think it’s “Shana” or “Chayna” or “Shanna.” It’s not hard, really: just say “Hannah,” only with a guttural ch sound, like “Chanukah.”
I was born in New Haven, Connecticut, to a pair of New Yorkers who did not want to give me a more ordinary American name like Jennifer or Jessica–names by which I now call almost all my female friends. As my parents intended, my name sets me apart from the mainstream. There has never been another Chana in my class (although a Harvard classmate spells it Hanna). This uniqueness made it harder to blend in when I was a preteen and wanted to disappear into a crowd. But now that I’m older and value individuality, I appreciate the merits of not being just another Mary or Susan.
My parents also wanted me to have a distinctly Jewish name, with a Hebrew pronunciation. Because of my name, my religion is one of the first things most people find out about me. So no one can ever call me a dirty Jew behind my back, as my mother explained to me years ago.