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Learning the Curve

A military brat, Robyn found home sweet home here in Wauwatosa. Moving here in 1989, "just till the kids get settled," she found the Milwaukee area hard to leave and a great place to put down roots. Join her as she tries to handle and make sense of whatever curves life decides to throw.

What's in a name

I met my new neighbor last month.  And I do mean new - little Elsi had been born just a few days before.   Elsi - even with a new updated spelling is a name I haven't heard in a long time.  But I used to hear it a lot - I had two maiden great-aunts when I was young.  Both born in the 1890's they moved with the times but still had that air of something old and mysterious about them.  It could be because they still lived in the house their father built in 1884.  Or maybe it was their names, Elsie and Gracie.  In a world of Debbies, Connies and Cindys, my great-aunts' names sounded completely different!  By the way  - this was long before Grace became a popular name again.  Once upon a time my own daughter's name of Emily was only heard when talking about really old women.  Elsie and Gracie's mother was named Rose and she kept the flower theme going by naming her eldest  Elsie Hyacinth.  Grace got a really different middle name for 1892-Angela. 

Remembering all the old names and family lore that goes along with them is fascinating.  Sitting on my grandmother's porch one summer day we chatted and she reminisced about all the babies her mother had, many of whom didn't survive whooping cough, diptheria etc. back in those days.  She remembered a little brother that she took care of quite a lot as she was the eldest.  They called him G.B.  When I asked about the name she said it was really Greenberry - her mom chose it because greenberries were the only thing that settled her stomach when she was pregnant with him. 

Think people pick some strange names today?  In checking out my mom's family I found a Darinda, Serelda, Sumner and Parrish.  She always talked about her aunts - Dove, Billie and Zoney.  Only later did I find out that Zoney's name was really Arizona.   I had a grandfather named Judge and a great-grandmother with one of my favorite names - plain old Polly.  There was a Hauttie and her sister Arkie - we never found out if Arkie had a more formal name.  It was a different branch of the family but maybe they were going with the names of states theme - Arkansas?

There is something so immediate, so personal about a person's name - even someone you never met.  My friend's son lives on the West Coast and was telling his mom about a date he had.  She wanted to know the girl's name - he said why, it was just a date.  My friend said she needed to visualize the person - if he didn't want to give her the name she would just use "Brittany".  He quickly gave her the name - my friend knew her son never liked the name Brittany.  A name is not just a name - why do you think people spend so much time and energy on naming their children, their pets - even sometimes renaming themselves?

 I am happy everytime I see little Elsi next door - a new  life starting out, a new generation - and a little bit of nostalgia for me  wrapped in a lovely little package with a brand new spelling.

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