The interesting name Tondra first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1946:
1948: 9 baby girls named Tondra
1946: 9 baby girls named Tondra [debut]
I don’t know why it dropped out of the data and then returned in 1948 with the same (relatively high) number of babies — that’s not a typical pattern — but I can explain the initial appearance.
In February and March of 1946, the kidnapping of 4-year-old Terry Taylor of Charlotte, North Carolina, was front-page news across the nation for several days straight.
Terry, her 5-year-old sister Tondra Taylor, and their 19-year-old nursemaid Rosemary Johnson were at a park in Charlotte one Tuesday when Rosemary decided to take Terry on a bus ride out of state. (They left Tondra behind at the park.)
The pair remained missing until Thursday night, when they were discovered in Annapolis, Maryland. Rosemary had managed to find a position as a maid. She had told the homeowners that she was the child’s widowed mother, but the homeowners became suspicious (in part because the child called herself Terry even though Rosemary insisted the name was Jerry) and called the police.
Terry’s parents drove to Annapolis on Friday to retrieve her, and nursemaid Rosemary was arrested. (Turns out her real name was Loretta Brozek. She was found guilty in July and sentenced to seven years in federal prison, but in October she was transferred to a mental institution.)
Though older sister Tondra was never the focus of the story, her name was mentioned repeatedly in the news that week.
And, ironically, Tondra’s name wasn’t really Tondra — it was Tonda (according to the North Carolina birth records, the 1940 U.S. census, and at least one early news report). In fact, she seems to be the same Tonda Taylor who founded the LGBTQ group Time Out Youth in Charlotte in 1991.
The name Terry — already on the rise for both genders at that time — also saw a jump in usage in 1946.
The baby name Arlynne popped up a few times in the SSA data in the ’30s and ’40s before seeing its highest-ever usage in 1951:
1951: 15 baby girls named Arlynne [peak]
5 in New York specifically
What caused this isolated popularity spike?
Arlynne Buchmann, a 19-year-old New Jersey roller skater who was voted Roller Derby Beauty Queen of 1950. At least two different photos of her ran in various newspapers in from mid-1950 to mid-1951.
A former model, Arlynne had only been skating for only 14 months in the fledgling National Roller Derby League (NRDL) before being voted “Queen” by fans. At that time, the league consisted of six teams. Arlynne’s was the Jersey Jolters.
In fact, the early 1950s was when Roller Derby itself was at peak popularity. The sport, which had been around since the 1930s, began to be televised locally in New York City in 1948 — back when TV sets could only be found in bars and storefronts. This coverage was enough to kick off a national craze.
For instance, Roller Derby fans included well-known celebrities like Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Milton Berle, Ed Sullivan, Cesar Romero, Sonja Henie, Eddie Cantor, Marilyn Maxwell, Eleanor Powell, George Raft, Jack Benny, W. C. Fields, Cary Grant, George Burns, and Gracie Allen. Many were photographed either at games or socializing with Derby athletes.
Also notable is the fact that a multi-day “Roller Derby World Series” was held annually at Madison Square Garden starting in 1949. Here’s some video footage of the very first one.
By the mid-1950s, the public had grown tired of the sport due to TV overexposure (ironically). Though Roller Derby continues to this day, it has never again achieved the level of popularity that it had for a handful of years in the middle of the 20th century.
What are your thoughts on the baby name Arlynne? Would you use it?
“Beauty — and Brawn.” Brooklyn Eagle 27 Aug. 1950: 23.
The boy name Marquavious adds up to 157, which reduces to four (1+5+7=13; 1+3=4).
4 via 166
The boy name Muhammadyusuf adds up to 166, which reduces to four (1+6+6=13; 1+3=4).
4 via 175
The unisex names Kosisochukwu adds up to 175, which reduces to four (1+7+5=13; 1+3=4).
What Does “4” Mean?
First, we’ll look at the significance assigned to “4” by two different numerological sources. Second, and more importantly, ask yourself if “4” or any of the intermediate numbers above have any special significance to you.
“4” (the tetrad) according to the Pythagoreans:
“Anatolius reports that it is called ‘justice,’ since the square (i.e., the area) […] is equal to the perimeter”
“It is the prerequisite of the general orderliness of the universe, so they everywhere called it a ‘custodian of Nature.'”
“Everything in the universe turns out to be completed in the natural progression up to the tetrad”
“The tetrad is the first to display the nature of solidity: the sequence is point, line, plane, solid (i.e. body).”
Examples of things that are divided into four parts:
“four traditional seasons of the year — spring, summer, autumn and winter.”
“four elements (fire, air, water and earth)”
“four cardinal points”
“four distinguishing points – ascendant, descendant, mid-heaven and nadir”
“Some say that all things are organized by four aspects – substance, shape, form and principle.”
“4” according to Edgar Cayce:
“In four, it makes for the greater weaknesses in the divisions…four being more of a division and weakness” (reading 261-15).
“In four, we find that of a division – and while a beauty in strength, in the divisions also makes for the greater weakness” (reading 5751-1).
Does “4” — or do any of the other numbers above (e.g., 22, 49, 76, 103) — have any special significance to you?
Think about your own preferences and personal experiences: lucky numbers, birth dates, music, sports, and so on. Maybe your favorite football team is the San Francisco 49ers, for example.
Also think about associations you may have picked up from your culture, your religion, or society in general.
If you have any interesting insights about the number 4, or any of the other numbers above, please leave a comment!
Source: Theologumena Arithmeticae, attributed to Iamblichus (c.250-c.330).
The name Dagmar (based on the Old Norse words dagr, meaning “day,” and mær, meaning “maid”) peaked in usage in the mid-1910s. But it returned for a secondary peak in 1951:
1953: 16 baby girls named Dagmar
1952: 21 baby girls named Dagmar
1951: 28 baby girls named Dagmar
1950: 18 baby girls named Dagmar
1949: 15 baby girls named Dagmar
What gave it a boost that particular year?
An American actress known simply as Dagmar. She became one of television’s first stars — and its very first sex symbol — in 1951.
She was born Virginia Ruth Egnor in West Virginia in 1921. When she began modeling and acting in the 1940s, she adopted the stage name “Jennie Lewis.”
But that stage name was changed to “Dagmar” when she was hired to appear on NBC’s Broadway Open House (1950–51), which was the first late-night variety show on network television. The bosomy* actress was instructed by the show’s host, Jerry Lester, to “act dumb” on the air. Justin Peters of Slate described the Dagmar segments of Broadway Open House as “gleefully sexist and unfunny, yet somehow redeemed by Dagmar’s odd, icy sense of dignity.”
Dagmar soon became more popular than the host himself. Lester ended up quitting, and Dagmar hosted the show during its final month on the air.
Around the same time, she began appearing on other TV variety shows (like Texaco Star Theater and the Bob Hope Show). She even landed on the the cover of Life magazine.
What are your thoughts on the name Dagmar? Would you use it for a modern-day baby?
*Fun fact: The two conical front bumper guards of various ’50s Cadillacs (and other GM cars) — originally modeled after artillery shells — came to be known as “Dagmar bumpers” or simply “Dagmars” in reference to the actress.