Friday, September 13, 2013

You Can Call Me Ray, Jay... But You Doesn't Have to Call Me Johnson

The name of this post comes from a comedy routine that appeared in Budweiser commercials in the 70's.  The star, Ray J. Johnson, says "You can call me Ray, you can call me Jay, you can call me....<insert many iterations>, and ends with, "but you doesn't have to call me Johnson."  It was funny at the time...

One of the things I've learned while doing family research is how commonly first names were reused within a family.  If a baby died at birth or in early infancy, it was not unusual for the parents to use that first name on a later offspring.  We all see sons being named for their fathers, often spanning several generations, but when I saw it done frequently with mothers and daughters, I was a bit surprised.

My brother's name is Thomas, although he will always be Tommy to me.  He is my kid brother, after all.  My father's name was Thomas, and my grandfather's name was Thomas.  So that all makes perfect sense.  Even my brother's middle name, Harold, came from my other grandfather, whose middle name was Hjalmar, a Swedish version of Harold.  My brother's name was destined for him long before he was even conceived.

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I, on the other hand, have no relatives named Linda.  But my mother told me that Shirley Temple, the famous child actress (think "Good Ship Lollipop") named her first child Linda Susan, and she liked the name, so that's what I'm stuck with.  It ended up being the most common name in the U.S. in the 50's and I grew up with 3 other Lindas, and we'd all answer "yes?" when the teacher called out our name.  I even decided, in the fourth grade, to start spelling it "Lynda," but that was quickly quashed by my teacher and my parents...oh well.  You don't see many little girls named Linda any more, and it has become very indicative of my age.

carole lombard photo: Carole Lombard CaroleLombard.jpg
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My mother's name is Carole.  My grandmother was a big fan of the movie actress, Carole Lombard.  Carole Lombard was an adorable blonde mostly known for her screwball comedies, but she could also do dramatic parts well.  She was married to Clark Gable, and died in a plane crash while raising money for bonds supporting the U.S. during World War II.  My favorite movie with Lombard is "My Man Godfrey," in which she plays a nutty heiress who brings home a homeless man during a scavenger hunt, makes him the family butler, and of course, falls in love with him.  She was perfect in the part, a little ditsy, a little emotional, but passionate and full of life.  I don't see any resemblance between Carole Lombard and my mother, either physically or in personality, but that's where she got her name.

When I start to move on to my great-grandparents' generation, I first found my maternal grandfather's parents, Selma and Hjalmar.  Hjalmar was my grandfather's middle name, so this made perfect sense.  When I started looking for Hjalmar's parents, I began to uncover records that showed his name as Andrew Hjalmar.  I found Hjalmar Andrew.  The records I found were all for the same person, but his name shows up with the order of the names reversed in some cases, so until I find his official birth record in Sweden (which I'm still searching for), I won't know the name he was born with.  I'm still working on finding Hjalmar's father, but it appears he might be Andreas, a Swedish form of Andrew.  That might lend more credence to Hjalmar's first name being Andrew, but, again, I'm not sure.  It sure doesn't help that this branch of the family has the surname Johnson.  It makes digging through records, especially in Swedish, much more tedious.

I only have one child, a daughter, and even if she had been a boy, there would have no juniors, no middle names after parents.  I just picked names I liked, although it ended up that her first name, Kristen, while not all that common to me when I chose it, ended up like my name, and she grew up with several other Kristens as her schoolmates.  But, you can find it on a keychain, so that's always a positive!  I used to be able to find "Linda" on things, but not so much anymore.  Now it's Ashley, Brianna, Kelli, Madison...and who knows what the next wave will bring.  Regardless, I remain, Linda, and it's nice to meet you!

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