Where did the baby name Kennan come from in 1952?

American diplomat George F. Kennan (1904-2005)
George F. Kennan

The name Kennan popped up in the U.S. baby name data for the first time 1952:

  • 1954: 11 baby boys named Kennan
  • 1953: 6 baby boys named Kennan
  • 1952: 8 baby boys named Kennan [debut]
  • 1951: unlisted
  • 1950: unlisted

If there’s a reason — and typically there’s a reason — my guess is George F. Kennan, the Russian-speaking diplomat nominated by President Truman in February of 1952 to be the U.S. Ambassador to the USSR.

He started the job in May, but didn’t last long.

Why? Because, in mid-September, while addressing the press in Berlin, Kennan “compared life in the Moscow Embassy with his internment by the Nazis at Bad Nauheim.”

Stalin wasn’t pleased.

In early October, the USSR accused Kennan of making “slanderous attacks hostile to the Soviet Union in a rude violation of generally recognized norms of international law.” He was declared a persona non grata and refused re-admittance into the country.

George Kennan making headlines throughout the year — not to mention the similarity of his surname to the then-trendy baby names Kenneth and Kevin — is likely what influenced a handful of expectant parents to name their sons Kennan in 1952.

What are your thoughts on Kennan as a first name?

P.S. Keenan’s father had a cool name: Kossuth Kent Kennan. He was born in Milwaukee in 1851, the year Hungarian freedom fighter Lajos Kossuth visited the city during a tour of the United States. (Lajos is the Hungarian form of Louis.)

P.P.S. In March of 1967, George Kennan was asked “to go to Switzerland on a secret mission to establish the bona fides of a woman who had defected from the Soviet Union and claimed to be the daughter of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.” The next month, news broke of Svetlana’s defection to the U.S.


Image: George F. Kennan (LOC)

Baby name story: Wonderful Terrific

Baseball player Wonderful Monds III
Wonderful Monds III

In the late 1920s, Henry and Sallie Monds of Brooks County, Georgia, welcomed a baby boy and named him Wonderful Terrific.

According to Monds family history, Henry had fathered a number of daughters — some sources say 11, others say 12 — and longed for a son. When his wife finally delivered a boy, he was so overjoyed that he exclaimed, “Oh, this is wonderful! This is terrific!” And that’s how the name came about.

Wonderful Monds on 1930 U.S. Census
Wonderful Monds on the 1930 U.S. Census

Years later, when Wonderful Terrific Monds had a son, the unique name was passed down.

Wonderful Terrific “Wonder” Monds, Jr., was born in 1952. A talented athlete, he played football at the University of Nebraska in the mid-1970s. He went on to play professionally for four seasons: three in Canada, and one in the U.S. with the San Francisco 49ers.

When Wonder Monds had a son, the name was passed down again.

Wonderful Terrific Monds III was born in 1973. He played baseball at Tennessee State in the early 1990s. He went on to play in the minor leagues for seven seasons, mostly in the Atlanta Braves farm system. He told reporters in 1996 that he loved his name, and was “happy being Wonderful,” but also noted:

The fans get on you when you’re not playing well and your name is Wonderful. They’ll say, ‘I thought you were wonderful.’ I’ve heard it all.

Ready for the confusing part? Wonder Monds (the football player) also passed the name down a second time.

His fourth son, Wonderful Terrific Monds, was born in 1992 and played college football in the early 2010s. As far as I know, he’s the most recent Wonderful Terrific.

(The second and third sons got the not-as-wonderful names named Devin and Mario.)

What are your thoughts on the name Wonderful? How about just Wonder?


Image: Wonderful Monds III trading card

Baby born on bridge, named Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge

On October 27, 1945, Mrs. Juanita Dunlop gave birth to a baby boy while traveling in an ambulance across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

“At the time Mrs. Dunlop said that she would not give the baby any fancy names,” but her husband later decided that he wanted to add the word “bridge” to the baby’s name.

So their son was christened Robert Bridge in late December at the Methodist Church in Manly, New South Wales.

The Dunlops’ two older children, both boys, were named Stephen and Richard.

Source: “Baby Named After Bridge Birthplace.” The Sun [Sydney, Australia] 23 Dec 1945: 6.
Image by Kate Branch from Pixabay

Baby born in England, named after entire soccer team (1973)

soccer ball, soccer field

In November of 1973, the Oatway family of London welcomed a baby boy.

The Oatways were big fans of Queens Park Rangers Football Club, so they decided to name the baby “Anthony Philip David Terry Frank Donald Stanley Gerry Gordon Stephen James” after QPR’s entire first team squad.

I wasn’t able to find any QPR players from 1973 named Stephen or James, but I did find players with the other names:

Tony Hazell
Phil Parkes
Dave Clement or Dave Thomas
Terry Venables or Terry Mancini
Frank McLintock
Don Givens
Stan Bowles
Gerry Francis
Gordon Jago (manager)

Ironically, the baby was never known by any of those 11 given names. He simply went by “Charlie.” As he later explained,

Charlie is just a nickname. An aunt told my parents they couldn’t name me after the QPR team because I’d look a right Charlie — and the name just stuck.

Charlie Oatway — unlike the other people I know of who were named after soccer teams (Liverpool F.C., Leeds United F.C., Burnley F.C.) — grew up to become a professional footballer. He played on various teams during the 1990s and 2000s, though, unfortunately, he never played for Queens Park Rangers.


Image by jarmoluk from Pixabay