My favorite columnist (well, Ernie Pyle and Robert Ruark and Ed Zern and Ted Trueblood are all gone) recently did a piece about names and how they affect the people who bear them. “A Boy Named Sue” would be an extreme example.
Take Grandpa Boman. He had a sly sense of humor. Witness the names he gave to his six daughters:
Aunt Rama was the first. Rama? An Egyptian goddess or something? Who knows? But Rama: it was pronounced, of course, Ramer.
Then there were aunts Tezzie, Tennie, Ottie and Mila Lee. Mother’s name came out of a romantic novel he was reading at the time of her birth. I’ve forgotten the name of the book, but the girl in it was named Edna Earl. Hence, Edna Earl Boman Sanders. Mother was lucky that he wasn’t reading Snuffy Smith or Barney Google at the time.
And brother Jack, the smart one, the spacecraft builder, was named after a comic strip character. The strip was Myra North, RN. Her boyfriend was Jack Lane, so brother Jack’s name is that.
A fairly popular middle name was carried by Daddy and best friend Turner Falkner, None. Daddy’s first name came from I know not where, but Prentice was given to me as my middle name, and to my middle grandson as his middle name.
Most people assume that my real name is Robert, and I happily let them think that; but it’s really just plain old Bobby. I can hear it now as Mother called me in for supper. I’d be playing or working way down in one of the hollows, but I could hear that “BobbEE.”
Many girls had middle names that were used. For example, you never called Mary Elizabeth Brown just Mary. Nossir, it was Mary Elizabeth. Same way with Sarah Kate Colvin. Never just Sarah, but both of her names; although I learned later that folks in her adopted hometown called her Kate.
People in Frontier Country weren’t too careful about name endings either. A friend of mine was named Johnnie, so, in his senior year in high school, he got tons of mail from girls’ colleges, begging him to attend their schools. I guess they needed a six-foot, 225-pounder for their basketball teams.
Names kind of go in cycles. Marks and Matthews one year, Seans the next, etc. You don’t see too many very young children with names like George and Frank and Ernest and Gladys and Fannie and Samantha, these days.
Wonder what names are going to be in vogue next?
Distance makes a difference. Cousin Virginia Dale became Ginny when she moved to Miami. Her sister, Nellie Gail, became just Gale. I became just Bob. Best friend Ross in our growing-up days became Jefferson when he went into the Air Force.
Some people, radio people especially, change their names completely, to something that sounds, uh, more hip, or something.
Yours truly, just Bo.
Bob Sanders is a veteran local radio personality, columnist, author and raconteur of note. He can be reached at