Column: What's in a name? Oh, plenty, since the 19th centuryWORTHINGTON — I wasn’t paying attention. I should have known a long, long time ago. In the beginning — oh, at least to the middle of the 19th century, but even after that — there were Americans who called their land “Columbia.”
By: Ray Crippen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — I wasn’t paying attention. I should have known a long, long time ago. In the beginning — oh, at least to the middle of the 19th century, but even after that — there were Americans who called their land “Columbia.” Columbia, as in Latvia, Bulgaria, Algeria, Nigeria, India, Russia.
Columbia. Land of Columbus.
This is why we have a District of Columbia. This is how that rousing old patriotic song came to be: “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean …”
Columbia, South Carolina.
Space shuttle Columbia.
“I’m a Columbian. God bless Columbia.” It has a smooth flow.
I’ve been caught up in names lately. Names that were, and names that are. I read the three best-known names in all the world are God, Coke and Titanic.
I remember when I first met Worthington’s legendary and genial superintendent of schools, Shirley Held. I didn’t know then that Shirley was a popular male name through centuries. One of the charms of that curly-haired moppet, Miss Temple, was that the adorable child had a man’s name — just as President Obama’s mother was Stanley.
Automobiles, in the beginning, had simple and straight-forward names. Ford brought out Model T before Model A but the names were easy to remember. Buicks were Buicks. Oldsmobiles were Oldsmobiles. An interesting thing: Oldsmobile was the automobile produced by Ransom E. Olds, and — Ransom E. Olds used his initials to name his other automobile, the Reo.
Ford began to make Mustangs. All right. Mustang was a likely name for an automobile. Hyundai had a Pony. Tucker had a Torpedo. That seemed fitting. And way back, Stutz had a Bearcat.
Chevrolet crashed the cart when it introduced Corvette and decided “C” has just the right sound. Camaro, Cavalier, Cassia, Cobalt, Citation, Constantia, Corsica. Watch for a Chevrolet Constantinople. C-O-N-S-T-A-N-T-I-N-O-P-L-E. (Ever hear that sung?)
Car names today are — oh, who knows? Who can remember?
Mazda has CX7 and CX9. Toyota has 4Runner, Venza, RAV4 (If it were RAC4 they might have sold a car to Ray.)
Dodge has Caliber and Viper. Hyundai Elantra. Ford Fiesta, Fusion, Focus, Escape (for robbers?). Chevrolet Aveo. Chevrolet Cruise, spelled Cruze. Cadillac Escalade. (I’m not sure I spell that right.) Jeep Liberty. Buick Enclave. KIA makes a Soul — yes.
KIA. I can’t believe that name goes on. When first I heard it I thought, “This company won’t last a year.” Since at least 1918, KIA has meant Killed in Action. KIA. Bad name.
Worse — you know what BM is. If you don’t know, ask your doctor. Subway now has a sandwich named BMT. Terrible name for a sandwich.
John Dillinger was ever and only John Dillinger but presidential shooters are remembered by all three names: John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald.
City of Worthington. I have often thought Okabena, the first choice, would have been the better choice. Worthington was named for Ohio Gov. Tom Worthington. Gov. Worthington’s son, Gen. Tom, defied Gens. Grant and Sherman after the battle at Shiloh and was court martialed on charges of drunkenness and unworthy conduct.
Names I have liked: Lackawana Railroad boxcars used to roll through town with this legend painted on their sides: “Lackawana, Route of the Phoebe Snow.”
I think there are several lists of the most popular babies’ names. I came on this list for 2011:
Boys: 1. Jacob; 2. Ethan; 3 Michael; 4. Jayden; 5. William; 6. Alexander; 7. Noah; 8. Daniel; 9. Aiden; 10. Anthony.
Girls: 1. Isabella; 2. Sophia; 3. Emma; 4. Olivia; 5. Ava; 6. Emily; 7. Abigail; 8. Madison; 9, Chloe; 10. Mia.
I liked the model of couples preserving the names of both their families, as in Anderson Hanson. It seems fitting. Someone posed a question to me. “What if the Anderson Hanson daughter — Lisa Anderson Hanson — marries a Nelson Johnson boy? Gregory Nelson Johnson. Will they be Lisa and Greg Anderson Hanson Nelson Johnson?” I can’t answer this. What is your take on it?
What do you guess friends called Meriwether Lewis?
There are two more names I must get firmly in mind. I have a very new great niece, Eleanor. Eleanor is Audrey’s sister.
And, we have a new judge. Gordon L. Moore III. I must remember, “Judge Moore,” and, “Your Honor.”
Ray Crippen is a former editor of the Daily Globe. His column appears on Saturdays.