The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Enid Features

April 22, 2014

What's in a name?

ENID, Okla. — What’s in a name? Think about it.

Have you ever noticed that if someone has a long name, their friends and family shorten it? Or if they have a short name, their friends lengthen it? James becomes Jim, and if that is too short, they make it Jimmy. No matter what you name a baby, someone is going to change that name to something else. Teachers usually go by a child’s given name. Buddies change it to suit the mood.

Many have asked me if my name is really Margaret. No, it isn’t. My name is just plain Peggy, although I have friends named Margaret who are called Peggy for short. My middle name is June. My family never called me that except when my parents really wanted to get my attention or make a point, and then I became Peggy JUNE, with emphasis on the June.

Back in my day, nearly every girl was called a double name. Betty Jean, Martha Lou, Libby Sue, Nancy Kay ... and on and on. In later years, many of those double-named people shortened their names to “B.J.” or whatever. It certainly simplified things for their families and still let their parents know they honored their chosen middle names.

My Jim was always known by Little Jim, and his father was called Big Jim, when they traveled from place to place and Jim’s dad worked in the oil fields in early days. That made things real simple, until my Jim got older and became bigger. Then it did create some problems. A little neighbor asked us one day, "Why is Big Jim the little one and Little Jim is the big one?” That is when we decided it was time to discontinue that distinction.

No one calls Jim “Jimmy” or Little Jim any more except when his wonderful old Marine sergeant when he was living would call almost every Friday or so. We could always tell who it was because he began his conversation with, “Jimmy, how are you doing?” By the way, we always called his Marine sergeant “Cactus,” although his name was Baxter. Cactus came from the way he was such a even-tempered person unless he got riled up, and then he could become very prickly. He had such a positive influence on Jim’s life and was so wonderful to Jim while in the Marines and after.

When I went back to Pawnee for my 62nd high school reunion, we all called each other by the names we used in high school ... I didn’t even know the name of one classmate we called “Wimpy.” It was (and is) Roy. One we called “Punkin” all the time, never calling him by his given name, Wayne. He is now a retired teacher in California, so I know he has long ago outgrown his nickname. We also easily remember former last names, but go blank on married names.

When Jim sees his co-workers from Champlin, he often cannot remember their names. All he can recall is their nickname, and yet they worked side by side daily. He knows what part of the refinery they worked in and what their duties were, but names ... not so much.

When we used to go on all the coach trips that Senior Life scheduled, we all wore name tags. It was an easy way to get to know people by name that we saw only at parties and exercising in the mall. If we see their names enough times, it is easier to remember them. Trouble is, when we see them now, we have to search our brains, as it is getting harder and harder to remember names.

The name we make for ourselves is as important as our given name. Our name should reflect honesty, integrity, compassion, heritage, and the general way we conduct ourselves. What image pops into someone’s mind when they hear your name? Or mine? Is it good or bad? It is difficult to repair a reputation once it is made. Our name follows us everywhere we go. We cannot go far enough away that our reputation (good or bad) doesn’t tag along. Remember, “AM” is the center of name.

The great Edgar A. Guest wrote a poem about liking myself and how to live.

“Myself”:

“I have to live with myself and so I want to be fit for myself to know.

I want to be able as days go by, always to look myself straight in the eye.

I don’t want to stand with the setting sun and hate myself for the things I done.

I don’t want to keep on a closet shelf a lot of secrets about myself,

And fool myself as I come and go into thinking no one else will ever know

The kind of person I really am. I don’t want to dress up myself in sham.

I want to be go out with my head erect. I want to deserve all men’s respect:

But here in the struggle for fame and wealth, I want to be able to like myself.

I don’t want to look at myself and know that I am bluster and bluff and empty show.

I never can hide myself from me. I see what others may never see.

I know what others may never know. I never can fool myself and so,

Whatever happens I want to be self respecting and conscience free.”

I say Amen!

This dessert has a strange name and may deter you, but it is easy to make and fun this time of year. When I serve it, I use small flower pots and put a fresh or plastic flower in it. Or you can serve it in a sand bucket and put gummy worms stuck in the top. Depends on the age of your guests.

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