No doubt you’ve heard of composer Hoagy Carmichael, who wrote the music for “Georgia on My Mind,” “Stardust,” “New Orleans,” “Lazy River,” and other classic pop/jazz songs.
But do you know where his distinctive name came from?
Hoagland Howard “Hoagy” Carmichael was born in Indiana in late 1899 to parents Howard Clyde and Lida Mary Carmichael. He had three sisters named Geogiana (nicknamed Georgia), Martha, and Joanne.
Wikipedia claims Hoagy was named for a circus troupe called “The Hoaglands,” but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
According to an autobiography, right around the time Hoagland was born “[t]here was a new railroad spur being built on the Monon line near Harrodsburg, and some of the surveyors were living in our neighborhood.” One of the railroad men, Harry Hoagland, was boarding with a relative.
Mother liked the unusual and had the imagination and the temperament of a poet, or a piano player. “Well, Hoagland sounds grand!” she said.
My father didn’t mind. “Sure, we can always use my name in the middle.”
Grandma Carmichael raised her hands in horror. “Lida, dear, please don’t name him Hoagland. They’ll nickname him Hoagy for sure. And besides, I like Taylor better.” [Taylor was Grandpa Carmichael’s name.]
Lida’s choice won, and the baby’s name became Hoagland Howard Carmichael.
His grandmother’s nickname prediction did come true, but not for a couple of decades: Hoagland didn’t start going by “Hoagy” until college.
Hoagy went on to marry a woman named Ruth. They had two sons, Hoagy Bix (born in 1938) and Randy Bob (born in 1940). Hoagy Bix’s middle name honors jazz cornetist Leon Bismark “Bix” Beiderbecke, who was a big influence on Hoagy, Sr.:
Hoagy heard a young white cornetist named Bix Beiderbecke and, “it threw my judgment out of kilter.” This was a sound like nothing he’d heard before and when Hoagy played an improvised tune for Bix, the strange young man with a magical horn said, “Whyn’t you write music, Hoagy?” The rest of his life was the answer to Bix’s question.
Randy Bob’s first name was inspired by movie actor Randolph Scott, but I’m not sure where his middle name came from.
What do you think of the name Hoagland? How about Hoagy?
Carmichael, Hoagy and Stephen Longstreet. The Stardust Road & Sometimes I Wonder: The Autobiographies of Hoagy Carmichael. Cambridge, Mass.: Da Capo Press, 1999.
A while ago I found a book called “A Collection of Original Acrostics on Ladies’ Christian Names” that was published in Toronto in 1888.
I won’t post any of the poems, which are all pretty cheesy, but author George J. Howson does include an intriguing selection of names. He notes that he wrote acrostics for “all the most popular feminine christian names of the day, and many more that, while not in common use, are known to exist in actual life.”
Here’s the list:
Abigail Ada Adelaide Adelle Adeline Addie Aggie Agnes Alberta Alecia Aletha Alfretta Alice Allie Alma Almeda Almira Alta Althea Alvira Alzina Amanda Amelia Amy Ann Anna Annabell Annas Annette Angelia Angeline Annie Athaliah Athelia Augusta Aura Avis Barbara Beatrice Bell Bella Berdie Bertha Bertie Bessie Beulah Blanche Bridget Calista Carrie Carlotta Cassie Catherine Cecilia Cela Celia Celicia Celis Charlotte Chloe Christie Christine Clara Clarissa Cleanthe Clementina Constance Cora
Cordelia Corinne Cornelia Cynthia Cyrena Debbie Delia Della Diana Diantha Dinah Dollie Dora Dorcas Dorinda Dorothy Edith Edna Effie Ella Eleanor Eleanora Electa Ellen Elfie Eliza Elma Elsie Emma Emmeline Emily Ena Erma Estelle Esther Ethel Ethelind Ettie Eugenie Eula Eunice Euphemia Euretta Eva Evalina Eveline Evelyn Fannie Felicia Flora Florence Floss Frances Frank Gay Georgie Georgina Geraldine Gertie Gracie Hagar Hannah Harriet Hattie Helen Helena Henrietta Hulda
Ida Irene Isabel Isabella Isadora Jane Janet Janie Jeannette Jemima Jennet Jennie Jessie Jerusha Joanna Josephine Josie Julia Kate Kathleen Katie Keziah Lany Laura Leah Leila Lena Lera Lettie Levina Levinia Libbie Lida Lilian Lillie Lizzie Lola Lora Lorretta Lottie Lou Louisa Louise Lucinda Lucretia Lucy Luella Lula Lulu Lydia Mabel Madelaine Maggie Malvina Mamie Marcella Margaret Maria Marilla Marion Mary Marsena Martha Mattie Maud Maudie May Melinda
Mellissa Mercy Mertie Mildred Millie Mina Minerva Minnie Mintha Miranda Mollie Muriel Myra Myrtle Nancy Naomi Nellie Nettie Nina Nora Ollie Olive Olivia Ormanda Ophelia Pauline Pearl Phoebe Phyllis Priscilla Prudence Rachel Rebecca Rhoda Robena Rosa Rosabel Rosalie Rosalind Rosamond Rose Ruby Ruth Sabina Sadie Sally Samantha Sarah Selina Sophia Sophronia Stella Susanna Susie Sybil Teresa Theodocia Theresa Tillie Una Verna Victoria Vida Viola Violet Wilhelmina Winifred Zuba
Have any favorites?
Hulda/Huldah is one I like. It’s one of those names that I always see on old New England gravestones but never come across in real life. Wonder when that one will become stylish again.
BTW, has anyone ever seen a good name acrostic? Like, one that’s actually well-written and/or thought-provoking? Because I don’t think I ever have.
A reader named Andrea is expecting her second daughter in May and she’d appreciate some name suggestions. Here’s what she writes:
My husband and I love unusual names that have a little bit of a retro feel (my first daughter is Edie). We’ve been trying to think of something fun and different but still feminine. A few we like: Camilla, Lina, Romi, Gia, Neve and Leigh.
Here are some other names I think they might like:
If you’re a huge Oz fan — or just a fan of old-fashioned names generally — here’s a list of (most of) the people who played Munchkins in the legendary 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz”:
Adam Albert Arnold August Bela Bernard Billy (2) Carl (2) Carlos Charles (4) Charley Clarence Colonel Dominick Eddie Elmer Emil Eugene Eulie Frank (3) Franklin Franz Fredreich Garland George (2) Gerard Gus Harry Harvey Henry Howard Jack Jakob (2) James (2) Jimmie Jessie John (2) Johnny (3) Joseph (2) Karl Kurt Lajos Leon Lewis Matjus Matthew Meinhardt Mickey Murray Nels Nicholas Parnell Prince Robert Sandor Theodore Tommy Victor Walter Willi William (2)
Addie Alta Ann Betty (2) Carolyn Charlotte Christie Dolly Donna Elizabeth Elly Elsie Emma Ethel Eva Fern Freda Frieda Gertrude Gladys (2) Gracie Hazel (2) Helen (2) Hilda (2) Hildred Jeane Joan Josefine Leona Lida Lillian Margaret (3) Marguerite Marie Mitzi Nita Nona Olga Patsy Priscilla Ruth (2) Shirley Stella Thaisa Valerie Viola Yvonne
While the majority of the 132 Munchkins in the film were played by little people, a handful of the female Munchkins were actually played by child actresses.