Baby Named after Notre Dame Coach

Francis William “Frank” Leahy, who played football at Notre Dame under Knute Rockne, went on to coach the Notre Dame football team himself for 11 seasons (1941-43, 1946-53).

“While at Notre Dame, Leahy had six undefeated seasons, five national championship teams and an unbeaten string of 39 games in the late 1940s.”

Leahy retired for health reasons in 1954.

A week after he retired, Arnold and Mildred Penza of Kenosha, Wisconsin — parents of Don Penza, captain of Leahy’s 1953 Notre Dame team — welcomed their 10th child.

The baby boy was named Frank Leahy Penza, after Coach Leahy.

(The names of all 10 Penza kids, from oldest to youngest, were Donald, John, George, Dennis, Thomas, Joan, James, Mary Lynn, Diane, and Frank.)


Couple Divorces Over Baby Girl’s Name [Poll]

Over the last few days, a number of new people have surfed in from HuffPo to read about a married couple that nearly divorced over a baby name. (Hello, new people!)

So today let’s talk about a married couple that actually did get a divorce because of a baby name.

Audrey Payne wed Arthur Simms of Atlanta, Georgia, in 1950. About a year later, they had a baby girl. Six weeks after that, Audrey petitioned for divorce.

Audrey had originally named the baby Antoinette, after her mother.

Thereupon, she charged, her husband, Arthur Benjamin Simms III, “flew into a rage.” He’s an aircraft engineer.

Simms, she charged, changed the name to “Annette.” She changed it back.

Then, Mrs. Simms claimed, her husband hit her and tore up all the birth announcements reading “Antoinette.”


I’m not sure what name the baby ended up with, but an obituary for Arthur Simms mentions a daughter named Anne, and this could be his daughter with Audrey. If so, perhaps the name on the birth certificate is Annette.

Which of the two names would you have chosen for baby Simms?

I would have chosen...

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Source: “Feud Over Baby’s Name Results in Divorce.” Reading Eagle 13 Jul. 1951: 4.
HuffPo article: Divorce Cause: Study Suggests Parents Of First-Born Girls Are More Likely To Split

Missouri Man Named “Soda Popp”

man named soda popp

Clyde and Dorothy Popp of Missouri had a baby boy in 1952 and named him Soda.

Yup — Soda Popp.

When Soda Popp was enrolled in school, it made the news:

Jefferson City, Mo., May 15 (AP) Soda Popp, 5, has been enrolled for kindergarten here next year.

And he’s been in the news quite a bit since, thanks to his memorable name.

In a 2003 interview with the Kansas City Star, he had this to say about it:

“I tell folks I have a sister named Lolly,” he said with a laugh. “And that I have twin sons, Snap and Crackle.”

That’s fiction, of course. But his name? That’s pure fact, he insists.

“My mom wanted to give me a name that would stand out – something unusual; something folks wouldn’t forget,” he said.

It’s worked. “People say, ‘How could your parents name you that?’ But I’m glad they did. My name has opened a lot of doors for me.”

A writer for the Topeka Capital-Journal spent a few days with Soda Popp in 2007. He said Soda was often forced to produce his driver’s license to prove his name really was “Soda Popp.”

What do you think of the name “Soda Popp” — cool, or cruel?

P.S. Soda Popp reminds me of two names I’ve seen on the 1940 census: R C Cola Osbey, a 21-year-old man in Texas, and Seven Up Stubin, a 22-year-old man in South Carolina. (And Seven Up Stubin reminds me of Lemon Lime Clay.)


  • “A Little Drink.” Milwaukee Sentinel 16 May 1957: 2.
  • Frazee, Brent. “Refreshing Soda: Yes, his name is really ‘Soda Popp.'” Kansas City Star 25 May 2003: C14.
  • Murrell, Marc. “Drinking in Soda’s tales.” Topeka Capital-Journal 13 May 2007.

15th Baby Named Amen

In 1953, Margaret and Alexander Bow of Ypsilanti, Michigan, welcomed their 15th child, a baby boy.

He was given the name Amen — from amen, the word used to end Judeo-Christian prayers — even though the couple expected to have more children.

(I don’t know if they ended up having more, but two of the older children were named Mary and Winifred according to the 1930 census.)

Source: “15th Child Named “Amen” by Mother.” Spokane Daily Chronicle 15 Oct. 1953: 33.

Dancers Name Baby After Playwright

marge and gower championHusband-and-wife dance team Marge and Gower Champion appeared in a number of musical films during the 1950s.

The couple had two sons, the first of whom was born in 1956 and named Gregg Ernest. According to a 1957 newspaper, he “was named after New York novelist James Gregg, who staked the Champions to the $30 they needed to their first dance engagement in Montreal.”

I spent hours trying to find a New York novelist from the ’50s named James Gregg…before discovering that the namesake was actually Jess Gregg, who wasn’t a novelist so much as a playwright. Who knows if that part about the $30 is true…

I also discovered that the baby’s middle name came from Marge’s father, whose full name was “Ernest Belcher,” unfortunately.


  • Gilvey, John Anthony. Before the Parade Passes By. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2005.
  • Herzog, Buck. “Look ‘n Listen.” Milwaukee Sentinel 14 Apr. 1957, teleSCOPE Magazine: 6.

Baby Girl Named After Department Store

In December of 1951, Mary Hertrich of Queens went into labor while shopping at the New York Macy’s.

“Salesgirls made frantic telephone calls to the medical department, and Dr. Julius Doppelt rushed down.”

Mary gave birth to a baby girl, and the baby was named Ann Macy. The store manager later became Ann’s godfather.

(Is anyone else surprised that Macy’s once had a sizable medical department?)


  • “Woman Interrupts Christmas Tour to Give Birth to Baby at Store.” St. Petersburg Times 12 Dec. 1951: 9.
  • “”The Store with the Mostest” Has a Bargain Night for Shoppers.” Sydney Morning Herald 28 Jul 1955: 8, Women’s Section.