WWII Baby Named for Air-Raid Siren

A week ago I posted about a baby who was named for the air raid shelter he was born in. Here’s a somewhat similar story:

A baby girl was born to an Irish mother living in London around the start of The Blitz, which lasted from September 1940 to May 1941.

[The] baby girl was named “Sireen” because, her mother explained, the “all clear” siren was wailing when the child was born.

That “-een” ending reminds me of familiar Irish girl names like Cathleen and Maureen, which are Anglicized forms of Caitlín and Máirín. In these names, the “-ín” is a diminutive suffix. If Sireen’s mother created the name with this suffix in mind, we could interpret it as meaning “little siren.”

Source: Wagnon, Hugh. “Irish Air Raid Babies Return.” Leader-Post [Regina, Saskatchewan] 11 Oct. 1940: 23.

WWII Baby Named for Air Raid Shelter

air raid shelter, wwii, anderson
Anderson air raid shelter (unburied)

On the night of August 28, 1940, German planes dropped bombs over London and other places in Britain. The air raid started around 9 pm and lasted for more than seven hours.

During the early hours of August 29th, a woman identified as Mrs. Plume gave birth to a 7-pound baby boy inside an Anderson air raid shelter buried in the back garden of a house in North London.

[He] was the first baby to be born in a shelter. He has been named John Anderson Plume, after Sir John Anderson, Minister for Home Security, after whom Anderson shelters are called.

The birth took place on a blanket-covered wooden bench by the light of a motor-cycle head lamp.

Source: “Many Areas Attacked by German Raiders.” Argus [Melbourne] 30 Aug. 1940: 1.

Name Story: Parris Afton Bonds

Prolific romance author Parris Afton Bonds — who co-founded both Romance Writers of America and the Southwest Writers Workshop — explained the origin of her first and middle names in an article from 1981:

“I’d like to tell you I was named after Paris, France,” Parris Afton Bonds told me as I visited her in her house outside Lewisville, “but I wasn’t. It was Paris, Kentucky.” She was, however, named after the River Afton in Scotland, and she pointed to a bottle on her bookshelf, still bearing a Schweppes label, that was filled with Afton water.

Other sources specify that Parris was in fact conceived in Paris, Kentucky.

Btw, did you know that Afton (as a girl name) has been particularly popular in Utah?

Source: Harrigan, Stephen. “Behind the Purple Page.” Texas Monthly Jan. 1981: 139-141.

Anne Rice’s Birth Name Was Howard

Anne RiceDid you know that author Anne Rice was born “Howard Allen O’Brien”?

The vampire novelist (and creator of Lestat) was born in New Orleans in 1941 to Howard and Katherine O’Brien. “Howard” came from her father — who went by Mike most of the time, ironically — and “Allen” was her mother’s maiden name.

Apparently she went by both names together as a youngster; Anne said in a recent interview that she “was Howard Allen, it was a double name” [vid].

Anne didn’t like having a male name, though, so in the first grade she started calling herself “Anne.” Eventually her name was legally changed to Anne O’Brien.

All three of Anne’s sisters (Alice, Tamara, and Karen) were given traditionally female names at birth.

[Related post: Stanley Ann Dunham, who later dropped the “Stanley.”]

Source: Ramsland, Katherine. Anne Rice Reader. New York: Ballantine Books, 1997.

Babies Named for the Wind…

the association, 1967, album

In January of 1940, The McMillan family of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, welcomed a baby girl “[a]t the height of a windstorm.”

Naming the child was easy. The McMillans called her Wendie Dae.

Had this scene occurred in the late ’60s instead of the early ’40s, I wonder if the McMillans would have gone for “Windy” instead of “Wendie.”

Why? Because in mid-1967, a song called “Windy” — about a woman named Windy — was the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks straight.

Who’s tripping down the streets of the city
Smiling at everybody she sees?
Who’s reaching out to capture a moment?
Everyone knows it’s Windy

The usage of the baby name Windy doubled that year. Windy was boosted into the top 1,000 for the first time, and it saw peak popularity in 1975, ranking 553rd that year.

Wendy also got a boost from the song “Windy,” though it didn’t need any help: the name Wendy was in the top 100 from the ’50s to the ’80s, reaching as high as 28th in 1970.

Which name do you prefer, Windy or Wendy? (Or Wendie?)

Source: “Daughter Born in Windstorm Is Christened Wendie Dae.” Morning Avalanche [Lubbock, Texas] 18 Jan. 1940: 6.