Unusual Names from the Heartland

Unusual namesAccording to one of his friends, J.R.R. Tolkien drew many of the names for his hobbits from the pages of a Lexington, Kentucky, phone book.

Why not? American names can be strange. Wonderfully strange, mind you, but strange. For instance, during some research on Cotton Mather, I was reminded that his father was named Increase Mather. If Cotton had named his child Production, it would have been a decent start on a trans-generational sentence.

When my great grandparents from Oklahoma had their sixth child, a boy, they decided that was enough for them, they were quits. Since he would be their endwise offspring, they took the very last word of the bible and bequeathed it to him: Finis.

They didn’t pronounce it in the Latin way; instead they pronounced it “finest,” but without the T. And his middle name was Funston. Finis Funston Waid. Ironically, they had another child after him. Probably should have named him Increase.

I have a cousin once removed named Lillou, which is a mash-up of my great aunt Lillian’s name and her best girlfriend, Lou (which I assume is short for Louise, or something similar). There is also an Omalou Mushrush in the family. And back along the family tree we have a Cleopatra Lazenby, which I think is exceptionally cool. I am privileged to have met everybody but Cleopatra and they were and are wonderful folks.

Unknown to most people, my middle name is Roxie—named for a poet friend of the family. As a kid, I gave fervent thanks that Roxie was not my first name and that “David” tumbled down the very center of the naming stream. Of course, I also wished I had straight hair and glasses, as so many other kids in my grade school did. As an adult, however, I have occasionally rued the fact that my first name doesn’t have a wild edginess to it and have come to love the Roxie.

Oh, fickleness, thy name is David Roxie Waid!

When it came to naming our own kids, my wife and I tried to strike the midpoint . To be fair, I did suggest Cleopatra for both girls, but the missus was strangely resistant. And, PS, my daughters say they would have killed me.

Sometimes it feels like the days of these funky, unusual names is over, although when I was a kid there was this little girl up the street whose parents had named her Lovelady. That’s gotta count for something. And though Frank Zappa is dead, Dweezil and Moon Unit live on.

Probably because of my own family, I love to hear about unusual, real life names. Do you have one in your family? If so, no hold-backs are allowed. You must divulge here and now by hitting the comments link at the top of the post.

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