“What’s in a Name?”


“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;”
– William Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet, Act II, Scene II

Is it just a Southern thing to have curious variations on a name…or was it just a Latham and Chandler thing?

I’m not certain about that, but I do know that a little over four hundred years ago, Shakespeare’s star-crossed Juliet first said something about renaming a rose.

I have a cousin Rose… but folks in our family call her Sissy. True to Juliet’s words, sure enough, our Rose smells as sweet when we call her Sissy (usually)…and she usually acts sweet, too.

By the way, Sissy is a recently-retired law enforcement officer…I bet some of the folks she apprehended during her career called her a few names that tempered our Rose’s sweetness.

Apart from Sissy and her sister Wanda Diann, who we call Ann, the other variations on names in my generation of blood relations are not far off at all – if any – from the given name: David – David; Timothy – Tim, Timmy, or Timmy Joe; Louise – Louise; James – James; Ronald – Ronnie; Donald – Donnie (both of them).

Aubrey is Aubrey or Aub…though I sometimes call him Brother…and in my early years he was my Bubba. I’m pretty sure his current favorite, though, is Paw Paw.

So you see…none of those monikers are way off-kilter.

Climb back up one branch on our family tree, though, and Lord have mercy!

I’m not just talking about variations, but other oddities as well…in names, not personalities. Althoughhh….

Anyway…to the previous generation of blood kin…

Will, Jr. (Daddy) was Jim. (I know. Don’t ask me. And, no, James was not his middle name…he didn’t have one.)

Dolly Lou (Momma) was Dot. (Nope. She wasn’t Dorothy.)

Altha B (the B wasn’t an initial for a middle name…B was…well…just B) was OB to her generation and Bobe (pronounced Boh-bee) to mine.

Docie Lee was Doe.

Marlene was Sis.

Arland was Buck. (Yep. We had an Uncle Buck long before John Candy came along.)

Claudia was Claudia. (Not so fast…it was pronounced Claw-dee…I reckon the A was silent.)

JW (neither letter was an initial…just like the aforementioned B, J was J and W was W) was either JW or Snooks.

As for yours truly…well…I was Stevie to family and Steven to classmates and teachers while growing up. Steve started during college.

But hey…get this…if four-year-old Aubrey had gotten his way back in 1962 when Momma and Daddy asked him what he wanted to name his soon-to-arrive baby brother, right now you’d be reading words scribed by Policey Pluto (pronounced Poh-leecy Pluto)…talk about “a rose by any other name.”


Steve Latham – April 25, 2017

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