Unusual real names: North Western, Safety First

Back in the early 1970s, two uniquely named men — North Western and Safety First — both lived in the same retirement village in Seal Beach, California.

North Western explained that Western was his family name and his parents named him North after another old family name.

He said he had some problems explaining the name when he used to commute in the Chicago area aboard the Northwestern Railroad.

According to various records, North Western was born in Winnipeg in 1901, had a son also named North Western in Chicago in 1931, and became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1938.

Safety First, whose family name was First, was actually given the name on his birth certificate by his parents, who liked the idea of safety.

First, 77, said he had problems over the years, such as the time he was cited before a Los Angeles judge for a defective windshield. Upon giving his name the jurist snapped, “I want your name, not your traffic slogan.”

According to the Social Security Death Index, Safety M. First was born in Pennsylvania in 1894.

(A like-named cardiologist in Tulsa, Oklahoma — Dr. Safety R. First — was born in 1920 and appeared on Robert Q. Lewis’ TV program “The Name’s the Same” in 1954.)


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