The source is the long-forgotten short story “Company for the Milkman” by Florence Leighton Pfalzgraf. It was published in various newspapers in 1936.
The protagonist is 24-year-old working girl Thayle. She wants to settle down, but first has to choose between two suitors: Nigel “Nig” Duffield (who’s poor, but perfect for her) and Malvern “Mal” Kay (who’s wealthy, but a bad match).
“I don’t mean to offend you, Nig. But — but I’m tired of my tuppenny job. I hate the real estate office, that cold iron typewriter. I don’t want to work after I’m married.”
She nearly marries Mal, but of course there’s a twist (involving a milkman) and she ends up with Nig.
The only thought-provoking thing about this story? The nickname “Nig.” I suspect the author wanted it pronounced “Nige” (long I, soft G–as in Nigel). So why did she leave off the E so that it rhymes with “pig” (or Twig)? Weird omission.
Source: Pfalzgraf, Florence Leighton. “Company for the Milkman.” Reading Eagle 3 May 1936: 14.
April 7th is International Beaver Day, so today is a weirdly appropriate day to check out the baby name Beaver, which debuted on the baby name charts in 1959:
1964: 9 baby boys named Beaver
1963: 5 baby boys named Beaver
1959: 5 baby boys named Beaver [debut]
The cause? Leave It to Beaver, the iconic TV sitcom that aired from 1957 to 1963.
The central character of the series (which had nothing to do with actual beavers) was a boy named Theodore “The Beaver” Cleaver. Beaver was the youngest member of an idealized, post-war family of four living in a fictional suburban community.
As with Rambo and several other pop culture baby names, “Beaver” had been in use as a first name in the U.S. long before 1959. (In fact, one of the co-creators of the show discovered the name while serving in the Merchant Marine during WWII. One of his shipmates was named Beaver.) Leave It to Beaver simply boosted the visibility/usage of the name enough for it to finally appear on the SSA’s annual baby name list, which doesn’t include names bestowed fewer than five times per year.
So how did a boy named Theodore acquire a nickname like Beaver? When Beaver was born, his older brother Wally couldn’t pronounce “Theodore” correctly. The result was “Tweeter.” From there, the word somehow morphed into “Beaver.”
The nickname was finally explained during the last episode of the series. Jerry Mathers, the actor who played Beaver, thought the explanation was “lame.” Perhaps…but this explicit focus on Beaver’s nickname during the mid-1963 finale may have been what caused the usage of Beaver to peak in 1964.
The name Wally was also used more often during the late ’50s and early ’60s. So was the name of Beaver’s father, Ward, but not the name of his mother, June.
What do you think of the baby name Beaver? Is it better or worse than Bimbo? How about Twig (another sitcom nickname from the 1950s)?
Back when I was writing about the baby name Twiggy I happened upon the one-hit wonder baby name Twig:
1955: 5 baby boys named Twig [debut]
Where did it come from? A short-lived TV sitcom called Professional Father, which aired on CBS from January to July, 1955. The central characters were Dr. Tom Wilson, his wife Helen, and their kids Kathryn, known as “Kit,” and Tom Jr., known as “Twig.”
The show was a mid-season replacement for another sitcom called That’s My Boy. It was replaced in the fall by Gunsmoke, which went on to become the longest-running western in TV history.
What do you think of the baby name Twig? (How about “Twig” as a nickname for Thomas?)
Here are some of the baby names that didn’t make the cut: Boomer, Bub, Bubber, Calamity, Cookie, Dainty, Danger, Demon, Fancy, Fester, Jinx, Less, Little, Manly, Notorious, Phuc, Pleasure, Rage, Riot, Savage, Sherlock, Sparky, Tarzan, Tiny.
If you know people who like baby name humor, please share!