Tuesday, June 8, 2010
In a recent meeting, I mentioned that I have five friends named Gail/Gayle who are all in the same age range. When I went to school there were also several Gails. The cyclical nature of the choice in names has always been interesting to me. Who would've thought that "Hazel" would be a popular name again? It is probably because of Julia Roberts naming her daughter Hazel. Recently, I reminisced with a woman with whom I'd worked in the 1960's and her name is Hazel. She and I talked about all the "little Hazels" now! She said that she had been named after the comic strip character Hazel!
The impact of celebrities' choices of names for their children is not a recent phenomenon. I read that "Gloria" had never been an actual given name until Gloria Swanson adopted it as her stage name (her original name was "Glory"). I read that Gloria Vanderbilt was named that because of Gloria Swanson! Cheryl was a very popular name when I was born and I read that it was because that was what Lana Turner had named her daughter. I feel sorry for those children of current celebrities with their bizarre given names (Apple, Kal-el, Sage Moonblood, Pax, Suri, Harlow). I hope not many people choose to imitate those celebrities' name choices. However, I do delight in the fact that Demi Moore named her daughter "Scout" after the heroine in "To Kill A Mockingbird". I remember that a local person named her daughter Chassity; the woman was a Cher fan, but didn't know that Cher's baby's name was spelled Chastity!
My name was ALMOST Diana Lynn because my mother had told my brother Bode that he could name the baby if it were a girl (Diana Lynn was a very cute debutante actress at the time), but after FIVE boys, Mother thought she would have another boy; she immediately vetoed "Diana Lynn" and then the grandmothers insisted I should be named for the two of them, but one wanted MARY MARGARET, and the other wanted MARGARET MARY! Fortunately, Mother was adamantly opposed to that! Over the years, every time I have met a female named Diana I always ask her middle name and only once has it been any other name than Lynn. Phyllis Sue was the compromise, because my aunt suggested Phyllis and Mother liked Sue! My mother called me Suzan Jane as a pet name all of my life, because she never liked the name Phyllis! I was always Sue at home.
When I was in first grade, we had seven girls named SUE! Interestingly, it was the MIDDLE name of each one of us and we were ALL called Sue or Suzy at home. Why do parents name a child one thing and call them another?
The first grade teacher, Mrs. McDonald had us draw straws to see which one would be called Sue at school; as I drew one of the short straws, I was called Phyllis throughout school. The one who picked the long straw and was allowed to be Sue at school was RUTH SUE MARIE MASSIE! For crying out loud, she had 3 names; how fair was that?
The seven of us called ourselves the "Sue Club". When any of us "Sue Club" members would see each other we always say Sue! Sadly, only Sandy Sue Evans Matthews and Phyllis Sue Shirkey-Raypole are still alive!
I thought it would be interesting to see the most popular names over the years. According to the Social Security Administration, the most popular baby names for 2009were:
Isabella and Jacob
The most popular names by decades:
2000s: Emily and Jacob
1990s: Ashley and Michael
1980s: Jennifer and Michael
1970s: Jennifer and Michael
1960s: Mary and David
1950s: Linda and John
1940s: Mary and Robert
At BMY, where we had nearly 1,000 employees, seven of my employees were named Sherry/Sherri/Shari/Sharie/Cheri/Cherie and Cheree!
NORMA JEAN: every time I have heard of a female named Norma, her middle name has always been JEAN: from Marilyn Monroe (Norma Jean Baker) to my husband's niece, Norma Jean Raypole! When I mentioned that observation to my friend Patty, she asked, "What about "Norma Rae"?"