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? ;)
The rare girl name Jyme (probably pronounced “Jimmy”) has only appeared in the national data set a handful of times, starting in 1946:
1946: 5 baby girls named Jyme [debut]
It’s just a slight debut, so there may not be a solid reason for it, but…I did find a little girl named Jyme prominently featured inside the Aug. 11 (Sunday) issue of the Chicago Tribune that year. So she could have been the influence.
Jyme Rae Pierson’s photo appeared in the paper alongside an article about the Joliet Industrial Health Camp — a camp that catered to local underweight children, its main objective being to get campers to gain a few pounds over a period of several weeks. The camp’s 20th anniversary was that summer. Jyme, one of the campers, was mentioned in an article several times.
While the reason for Jyme’s first appearance in the data may be elusive (perhaps nonexistent), the reason for the name’s second appearance, in 1954, was no doubt the influence of Jymme Shore.
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader looking for lists of old-fashioned double names. She was aiming for names like Thelma Dean, Eula Mae, and Gaynell — names that would have sounded trendy in the early 1900s. She also mentioned that she’d started a list of her own.
So I began scouring the interwebs. I tracked down lists of old-fashioned names, and lists of double names…but I couldn’t find a decent list of double names that were also old-fashioned.
I loved the idea of such a list, though, so I suggested that we work together to create one. She generously sent me the pairings she’d collected so far, and I used several different records databases to find many more.
I restricted my search to names given to girls born in the U.S. from 1890 to 1930. I also stuck to double names that I found written as single names, because it’s very likely that these pairings were used together in real life (i.e., that they were true double names and not merely first-middle pairings).
Pairings that seemed too timeless, like Maria Mae and Julia Rose, were omitted. I also took out many of the pairings that feature now-trendy names — think Ella, Emma, and Lucy — because they just don’t sound old-fashioned anymore (though they would have a few decades ago).
The result isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a decent sampling of real-life, old-fashioned double names. I’ve organized them by second name, and I also added links to popularity graphs for names that were in the SSA data during the correct time period (early 1900s).
A few years ago, we held a fun 1980s name-song tournament. (Come on, Eileen, you must remember!) This year, let’s go back even further — let’s check out songs with names in the titles from the early rock and roll era (late ’50s and early ’60s).
I’ll explain more about the tournament at the bottom of the post. For now, I’ll just forewarn you that each link opens a video in a new page so that you don’t lose your place on this page, which is pretty long.
"Wake Up Little Susie" by The Everly Brothers (57%, 4 Votes)
"Sally, Go 'Round the Roses" by The Jaynetts (43%, 3 Votes)
Total Voters: 7
Which song is better? (30 of 32)
"Susie Q" by Dale Hawkins (71%, 5 Votes)
"Sherry" by The Four Seasons (29%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 7
Which song is better? (31 of 32)
"Runaround Sue" by Dion (67%, 4 Votes)
"Venus in Blue Jeans" by Jimmy Clanton (33%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 6
Which song is better? (32 of 32)
"Sheila" by Tommy Roe (67%, 4 Votes)
"Susie Darlin'" by Robin Luke (33%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 6
…And that’s it for now! Round 2 will start on Friday.
Here’s the full tournament schedule:
Round 1 (64 songs to 32): Vote March 12-15
Round 2 (32 to 16): Vote March 16-19
Sweet 16 (16 to 8): Vote March 20-22
Elite Eight (8 to 4): Vote March 23-25
Final Four (4 to 2): Vote March 26-27
Championship (2 to 1): Vote March 28-29
Winner (1): Announced on March 30
Polls close at 11:59 PM (Mountain Time) on the last day of each round.
And finally, in case you’re wondering how I chose the groups and the pairings: The groups are alphabetical (A to F, G to L, L to P, and R to W). To rank the songs within each group, I used that “total” number of Google search results as a proxy for popularity. Then I created match-ups in true March Madness style: first vs. last, second vs. second-to-last, and so forth.
Horseflies are fierce. Like mosquitoes, they require a blood meal before they can reproduce. But even for a horsefly, this one was special. Bryan Lessard first spotted her in the Australian National Insect Collection. As soon as he laid his eyes on her round, golden abdomen, draped in two translucent, honey-colored wings, he knew: “I figured, if I’m ever going to name a species after Beyoncé, this is it.”
Until then, it had been known to locals as the “golden bum fly” but had not been described scientifically. No longer. In 2011, the artist-formerly-known-as-golden-bum-fly officially got her new taxonomic name: Scaptia beyonceae. With this moniker, Lessard hoped, she “would become an ambassador for bootylicious biodiversity.”
Her crusade to include men’s names when meteorologists differentiated hurricanes placed her at the eye of an international storm.
Following a long naval tradition of giving storms women’s names, just as ships are referred to by female pronouns, government forecasters adopted the practice in 1953 and applied it alphabetically.
Soon, weathermen — and they were mostly men — were applying sexist clichés to the storms, like suggesting that they were unpredictable or “temperamental” and were “flirting” with barrier islands or coastlines.
But a generation after Ms. Bolton began her campaign, the weathermen finally capitulated.
My sister’s name is September, and today is her 32nd birthday. Yes, that’s right. My parents named my sister September even though she was born in January, and she has consequently suffered years of obvious questions. Of course, these are the same people who named their only son Ranger.
Gal’s first name is pretty much pronounced how it’s written (think “gal pal”). You’ve also probably found yourself pronouncing her last name as “Guh-dough” or “Gah-dot” thinking you’ve got it all down, but sorry to disappoint you: both of those are wrong. … During her interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Gal explained that the correct way to pronounce her last name is “Gah-dote.” Say it with me: “Gah-dote.” Gadot means river bank, while Gal means wave in Israeli.
From Nina Sankovitch’s memoir Tolstoy and the Purple Chair (2011):
For my father, the consequences of war brought him far from home, and eventually across an ocean, to start over in a new world. My parents tell me I was named after the members of the corps de ballet of the Bolshoi, most of whom were named Nina. They went to see a performance of the Bolshoi just days before I was born. But I also know that my name is another ripple effect of the war, coming from my father’s sister Antonina, who was murdered that night in 1943.
(Three of her father’s siblings — Sergei, Antonina, and Boris — were all killed one night during WWII.)
Adelman and his colleagues came up with a new naming convention that incorporates the mom’s first name. Instead of Babygirl Hobson, my daughter would instead be tagged as Katherinesgirl Hobson. Twins would be called 1Katherinesgirl and 2Katherinesgirl, rather than the conventional BabygirlA and BabygirlB. (Another system using temporary names like CutiePie and BuggyBear was rejected, says Adelman.)
Mark begins her classes by telling the story behind her name. “For just a few moments after I was born, [my parents] thought that Marsha Mark was a really nice name. But a couple of hours passed and then they said, ‘No wait, it’s a terrible name!’ and they went to try and change it, but the folks at the hospital said, ‘No, sorry, you signed the papers, so that’s the name,'” Mark recounted. “To my mind, the name Marsha either belongs to a sister in The Brady Bunch or to someone who wears, maybe, pink ruffles. And neither of those applies to me. So, I’ve been called M my whole life, and I’m happy with it.”
Have you spotted any good name-related quotes/articles lately? Let me know!