The French name Desiree was first popularized in the U.S. by the 1954 movie Désirée, which told the story of Désirée Clary, the one-time fiancée of Napoleon Bonaparte who later became the queen of Sweden and Norway.
Several years later, during the doo-wop craze of the ’50s, five Harlem-based teens formed a vocal group called The Charts — intentionally naming themselves after the Billboard‘s hits list in the hope that they would one day see themselves on the charts.
Despite being booed off stage during an Apollo Theater amateur night, the quintet got signed to a label and ended up recording several songs before disbanding in 1958.
The only Charts song to actually reach the charts? “Deserie,” a “huge East Coast doo wop cult classic” that appeared on Billboard‘s pop chart four times during the second half of 1957, peaking at 88th.
Here’s a video featuring the song:
But the Charts actually charted twice, because the baby name Deserie debuted on the U.S. baby name charts the very same year:
1960: 15 baby girls named Deserie
1959: 8 baby girls named Deserie
1958: 7 baby girls named Deserie
1957: 13 baby girls named Deserie [debut]
Though the spelling and pronunciation aren’t quite the same, Deserie (deh-zə-REE) was no doubt inspired by then-trendy Desiree (deh-zi-RAY), which can be traced back to the Latin word for “desired,” desideratum.
Which name do you like better, Desiree or Deserie?
Warner, Jay. American Singing Groups: A History from 1940s to Today. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corporation, 2006.
In the spring and summer of 1932, tens of thousands of unemployed World War I veterans and their families set up camp in Washington, DC.
Each carried a military service certificate. These certificates weren’t redeemable until 1945, but the Great Depression was underway, and the group — which called itself the Bonus Expeditionary Force — was demanding that the government redeem the certificates immediately, in cash.
Toward the end of July, Mayor Edward McCloskey of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, visited the B.E.F. and (perhaps inadvertently) invited the group to Johnstown in the event of an eviction. So, when President Hoover kicked the B.E.F. out of Washington a week later, Johnstown is where everyone headed, to the chagrin of Johnstown residents.
The first B.E.F. baby born at the new Johnstown location arrived on July 31. She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Leroy Herendeen of Jackson, Michigan, and was named Edwarda in honor of Edward McCloskey.
(The bonus army didn’t stay long in Johnstown, though. After a few days of negotiation, Eddie McCloskey was able to convince the group to disband. The last of the army left on August 7.)
If you like the idea of anagrams but want to avoid sound-alike sets, I recommend anagrams with different numbers of syllables. Pairs like “Etta and Tate” and “Clay and Lacy” are a far more subtle than pairs like “Enzo and Zeno” and “Mary and Myra.”