I’m fascinated by personal names that, out of context, don’t appear to be names at all. Especially when said names are created from everyday nouns and proper nouns — places, foods, animals, objects, brands, ideas, events, institutions, organizations, qualities, phenomena, and so forth.
My fascination kicked into high gear after I wrote about noun-names earlier this year. Ever since, I’ve kept my eyes peeled for noun-names.
So far, I’ve collected hundreds. But it’s going to take me a while to blog about all of them. In the meanwhile, I thought I’d list some of the strangest ones I’ve already talked about:
On the day John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth (February 20, 1962) a baby boy was born in Ogden, Utah, to Mr. and Mrs. H. Ray Hill.
He was named Orbit.
(In fact, hundreds of U.S. babies have been named orbit over the years. Two particularly memorable Orbits are Glenn Orbit Reeves, born on 2/20/1962 in Texas, and Orbit Paul Moon, born on 3/10/1902 in Iowa.)
Source: “Utah Parents Name Arrival Orbit.” Florence Times 27 Feb. 1962, section 2: 8.
I’ve got a few more astronaut names for today. Yesterday’s astronauts were from the Apollo program, but today’s are from the earlier Mercury program (1959-1963), which was the nation’s first human spaceflight program.
The first American (and second human) in space was Alan Shepard. He piloted a sub-16-minute suborbital flight on May 5, 1961. (Yuri Gagarin’s flight on April 12 had been an orbital flight lasting 108 minutes.)
At 11:42 am, “an hour and eight minutes after Shephard’s [sic] rocket took off,” a baby boy was born to Mr. and Mrs. William J. Mann of Middletown, New York. The boy was named Alan Shepard Mann.
“I had thought of the name myself,” said Mr. Mann. “Then so many friends called and suggested it that we decided to name the baby Alan Shepard. My wife had already picked out a name, Ralph Luppon, but she agreed too that under the circumstances it was the only thing to do.”
The first American to orbit the Earth and the third American (and fifth human) in space was John Glenn. He traveled around the Earth three times during a nearly 5-hour flight on February 20, 1962.
Here are just a few of the babies born on Feb. 20 and named in honor of John Glenn:
John Glenn Donato, baby boy, born to Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Donato of Burbank, California.
John Glenn Guntle, baby boy, born at 2:42 p.m., “just one minute before astronaut John H. Glenn Jr. landed Tuesday in the Atlantic Ocean after his third orbit of the earth,” to Mr. and Mrs. Larry Guntle of Dowagiac, Michigan.
John Glenn Fortner, baby boy, born to Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Fortner of Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Glenn John Ashley Mertz, baby boy, born “as astronaut John H. Glenn Jr. re-entered the atmosphere” to Mr. and Mrs. Louis Ashley Mertz of Freeport, New York.
Jonna Glyn Morse, baby girl, born at 10:50 a.m., “while Col. Glenn was still in orbit,” to Mr. and Mrs. Sidney L. Morse of Los Angeles, California.