“Everly” is hot…”Beverly” is not. It’s a one-letter difference between fashionable and fusty.
If you’re sensitive to style, you’ll prefer Everly. It fits with today’s trends far better than Beverly does.
But if you’re someone who isn’t concerned about style, or prefers to go against style, then you may not automatically go for Everly. In fact, you may be more attracted to Beverly because it’s the choice that most modern parents would avoid.
If you’ve ever thought about intentionally giving your baby a dated name (like Debbie, Grover, Marcia, or Vernon) for the sake of uniqueness within his/her peer group — if you have no problem sacrificing style for distinctiveness — then this list is for you.
Years ago, the concept of “contrarian” baby names came up in the comments of a post about Lois. Ever since then, creating a collection of uncool/contrarian baby names has been on my to-do list.
Finally, last month, I experimented with various formulas for pulling unstylish baby names out of the SSA dataset. Keeping the great-grandparent rule in mind, I aimed for names that would have been fashionable among the grandparents of today’s babies. The names below are the best results I got.
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader looking for lists of old-fashioned double names. She was aiming for names like Thelma Dean, Eula Mae, and Gaynell — names that would have sounded trendy in the early 1900s. She also mentioned that she’d started a list of her own.
So I began scouring the interwebs. I tracked down lists of old-fashioned names, and lists of double names…but I couldn’t find a decent list of double names that were also old-fashioned.
I loved the idea of such a list, though, so I suggested that we work together to create one. She generously sent me the pairings she’d collected so far, and I used several different records databases to find many more.
I restricted my search to names given to girls born in the U.S. from 1890 to 1930. I also stuck to double names that I found written as single names, because it’s very likely that these pairings were used together in real life (i.e., that they were true double names and not merely first-middle pairings).
Pairings that seemed too timeless, like Maria Mae and Julia Rose, were omitted. I also took out many of the pairings that feature now-trendy names — think Ella, Emma, and Lucy — because they just don’t sound old-fashioned anymore (though they would have a few decades ago).
The result isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a decent sampling of real-life, old-fashioned double names. I’ve organized them by second name, and I also added links to popularity graphs for names that were in the SSA data during the correct time period (early 1900s).
If your due date is December 21, why not commemorate the date with an “end of the world”-inspired baby name?
No, I’m not suggesting you go with something ridiculous like Armageddon or Apocalypse. (Though I have seen both used as names. Examples: Armageddon James Margerum, born in England in 1833, and Ulysses Apocalypse Johnson, born in California in 1992.)
Instead, try a name with a less obvious “end of the world” connection. Perhaps one of these:
Maya – the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar is most commonly associated with the Maya
Jeremiah – inspired by Maya
Nehemiah – inspired by Maya
Deedee – short for doomsday
Ann – short for annihilation
Catherine – inspired by cataclysm
Calypso – inspired by apocalypse
Arma – short for armageddon
Armand – inspired by armageddon
Armando – inspired by armageddon
Gideon – inspired by armageddon
Don – short for armageddon
Or try one of the dozens of names that happen to contain the word “end” (short for “end of the world,” of course).
What other “end of the world” baby names can you think of?
Two years later, variant spelling Torchie did the same thing.
Where did these two one-hit wonders come from?
My guess is fast-talking fictional newspaper reporter Torchy Blane, the heroine of nine low-budget movies released in the late ’30s with titles like Torchy Gets Her Man (1938), Torchy Blane in Chinatown (1939) and Torchy Runs for Mayor (1939). All of the films “followed the same formula — the nimble-minded, intuitive Torchy (who never bothered to take notes when she interviewed a person) would end up solving a crime way before her lunkhead boyfriend, police Det. Steve McBride.”
Ironically, Torchy Blane’s real first name wasn’t Torchy. According to two of the films, her first name was actually Theresa.
Most of the time the Torchy was played by actress Glenda Farrell, though twice she was played by other actresses (Lola Lane and Jane Wyman, respectively).
And that reminds me — did you know that Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel was inspired by Torchy Blane to create the character Lois Lane? He’s how he puts it:
Our heroine was of course a working girl whose priority was grabbing big scoops. What inspired me in the creation was Glenda Farrell, the movie star who portrayed Torchy Blane. Because of the name Lola Lane, who also played Torchy, appealed to me, I called my character Lois Lane.
P.S. Speaking of Glenda Farrell…she was behind the Glenda trend that lasted from 1933 (she appeared in a whopping 11 movies that year) until the middle of the century.
Update, 10/2017: I may have discovered an even better explanation for Torchy! In 1939, the soap opera Guiding Light introduced a new character named Torchy Reynolds. (This was back when the soap was radio-only.) Torchy, a former showgirl from San Francisco, was part of the story until 1942. Her time on the show (1939-1942) matches up better with the 1939 and 1941 single-year appearances of Torchy and Torchie than the film series (1937-1939) does. What do you think?