Friday, March 10, 2017

First, Last...and Maybe Middle

The Name Game

Today is Middle Name Pride Day. Alas, when I was born in 1944, I had a name common to everybody and his dog--Judy--but no middle name. Neither of my parents had middle names either. Then, about the time I went off to college, someone with my first name married someone with my last name, and a great deal of confusion resulted. So, when I turned 21, I decided to change my name from ‘Judy’ to the more formal ‘Judith’ and take my grandfather’s surname as my middle name. (It was a pretty simple procedure--my father applied to have my birth certificate amended, but I don’ think it’s that easy anymore.) A few years later, when I married, I began to use my maiden name as my middle name, and the other one disappeared forever.

Ancestral names

Middle names seem to abound in earlier generations of my family:
·        Julia Ann
·        Martha Ann
·        Mary Eliza
·        Annie Laurie
·        Clara Mattie
·        Margaret Elizabeth
·        Rebecca Delilah
·        Myrtle Elizabeth
·        Jewel Madeline
·        Bessie Marie
·        Willie Pearl
·        Pattie Thomas (No, the ‘Thomas’ isn’t a surname!)
·        Rebecca Jan
·        Mary Ella
Some are elusive:
·        Louisa B.
·        Susan P.

Male vs Female

One oddity I’ve noticed seems to be that boys are given middle names 99% of the time. It’s the female offspring who do without. I’m sure there’s a reason for that--perhaps because the American family is traditionally patrilineal and a middle name is needed to differential between a dozen or more Johns or Thomas’s.

The Newer Generation

All my granddaughters have middle names. In fact, two of them have TWO! I had nothing to do with their naming, but I like all the names chosen.

In Retrospect

Though I don’t use my grandfather’s name now, it pleased him when I took it. An orphan by the time he was eight, he set great store in family, and that name was all he had left of the father who died when he was six or seven months old.
I like to play with names for the characters I create in my writing. They have to be era-appropriate as well as functional in the story. And, I grow attached to them as if they were family.
·        Lenore
·        Roberta Annette ‘Bobbie’ who became Annette Lenore ‘Annie’
·        Celeste
·        Jean
·        Ruthann
·        Penelope
·        Mary Lynn
·        Susanna
·        Gail
·        Beatrice ‘Trixie

Upcoming Characters

Jewel, Cordelia (Corey), and Maeve The Legacy of Diamond Springs
Serafina, Dalee (a play on the name of the man Serafina didn’t marry) Unnamed story
Ivy Nadine Keeping Promises

Do you have a middle name? Is there a story behind it?

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