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What is in a name? When a new baby is born, one of the first questions asked is, “What is the name?” Names are important. They not only identify an individual, but they seem to acquire a personality that fits their name.

People often comment on the names people have chosen to give their children. “That’s pretty,” “That’s an old name.” “That’s an unusual name, how did you choose that name for your child?”

Sometimes people select a certain name because they may like someone with the same name and it gives personal worth. The same is true about not liking a name because someone we know may have had that name.

Surprisingly, it seems like children grow into their names and we identify them with it. Names may be the same or spelled very different and that seems to change the personality of the person. Teachers must have a time if they have more than one child in their classroom with the same name, especially if they are spelled differently.

Many times children are given names of grandparents, special friends, etc. Many are known as “junior” or “the II.” Names like Hunter, Harbor, Spring, Summer, April, May, August, Laik, Jewel, are not names most people would choose, but I guess anything fits.

Of course, along with the names people are given, they may often be identified, or called by a different one. Mrs. C.T. Nelson, who used to live in Geneva, cried with happiness when her boys got nicknames like ”T-bone” or “Red” because she felt it was a sign that they belonged.

Some people never outgrow a nickname and it stays with them their whole life, sometimes causing problems if we have to explain who the person really is. Where and how someone derived their nickname is probably because of something that may have occurred, or because of their size, or maybe it was a name that someone liked.

My Grandpa Hanson gave his kids their nicknames. My Aunt Helyn was “Toody,” my Uncle Paul was “Bud” or “Buddy” when he was little. And of course everyone knows my Aaunt Phyllis, “Snookie.” She almost shed the nickname, but Bud married a Phyllis so the family kept calling her Snookie instead of calling one “Big Phyllis” meaning the older one, or “Little Phyllis,” the younger one.

My mother, Carole, did shed her nickname because two different aunts, one from each side of the family, made fun of it and it was thought she should go by her real name. The funny thing was most people did, except for those two aunts who continued to call her “Babe” or “Babus” until they died.

Most often Carol does not have an “e” on the end, so we have to make sure we remind people that they need to add it. The “e” was added because there were three “Carols” in her class, of which one was a boy.

My uncle, Eugene Hagen, was nicknamed “Peenie” by his uncle because he was such a little child. The uncle who nicknamed him went on to have a household of “small” children, but Eugene grew taller than them all.

Some families recycle nicknames more than others and athletes often do because they excelled in some sport.

“Speed” Nelson had a grocery store in Ellendale and later sold it and became a world salesman for North Central Plastics.

“Spike” Miller, also from Ellendale, was in the hardware business in Ellendale and probably got his nickname because he was in the business of selling “spike” nails.

“Dot” had a brown spot on his underwear “once,” but he acquired the nickname for the rest of his life.

“Whitey” Hagen has been Whitey for a good many years. Many don’t remember his real name, which is DuWayne.

“Torg”, is a shorter version of Warren Torgerson, “Hank” is also a shorter version of Harold, and “Squeak” was another name given to a Torgerson a number of years ago.

Many started calling Steve Bailey “Bear,” Randy Hagen “Hoff,” and Doug Willert “Gout.”

The nickname “Nig”, was given because he always seemed to have dirt on his face when he was a young squirt and he actually was a “junior.”

And of course there are those who have always gone by their given name. My first-grade teacher, Mrs. Palen, insisted her pupils be called by their given name so I went by Kathleen all through grade school, but most people now call me Kathy.

And then I wonder where some of the last names that people have were ever derived. There are really some interesting last names, but there seems to be a great number of interesting names in sports, especially those from another country.

Granted, here in our little corner of the world, many end in sen or son, like Christensen, or Christenson, and the same is true for Hanson, Paulsen, Peterson etc., because the sen or son got tacked on from their foreign heritage. Many of our readers may remember the Vietnamese family that had the last name Troungs. When they got their citizenship there father insisted they all take American names, including their last name and as a result they became “Troungson” because people here in our corner of the world had ‘son” on the end of their last name.

In fact lots of men changed their names when they came to America. Some said partly because they were required by their countries military service and they didn’t want to be traced because of some infraction of a law or marital reason.

And many last names I would hate to constantly have to spell for others, let alone write many, many, many times, like Splietoeser, Anzaldi, Bumgartner, Schwierjohann, Bielefeldt, Deuutschle, Kuckenbecker, Bogenschultz, Swarthout, Svoboda, Usdansky, Cottingham, Doorenbos, Eidenschink, Gostomczik, Hommedahl, Hyronimus, Tommeraas, Fuhrmeister and the list goes on.

My dad’s mother’s last name was McGillicudy. She was related to Connie Mack, whose real last name was McGillicudy but went by a shortened name most of his life. Older folks will also remember Pat “Mac,” a brother who lived south of the Beaver Lake corner.

What is in a name? It is something that we were each given and it continues to be a part of us every day of our lives! Won’t we always remember Bill Johnson, who was almost a twin to Walter Mathau? Bless you Bill!

Birthdays and anniversaries:

• Thursday, November 17th: Presley Ann Broskoff, Brynn Routh, Mikayla Sue Brouwers, Stuart Kubat, Nathan Larson, Milton Wayne, Gloria Jensen, Nathan Schmidt, Elvern Holland, David Kasper, Jim Olson, Daniel Ingvaldson, John Nelson, Trisha Cyr, Brad & Donna Borchert

• Friday, November 18th: Edrea Marae Kubista, Toni Wayne Smith, LeRoy Peterson, Kim Lehmberg, Ernest Anderson, Paul Groth, Allen Schewe, Gordy & Karol Carroll    

• Saturday, November 19th: Sidney Ellen Schultz, Kolby Dale Boverhuis, Deb Schmidt, Leah Scott, Roger Dulas, Jennifer Kycek, Chanelle McCamish, Darrin Peterson, Mandi Wobschall, William Conley, LaShawn & Gretchen Ray, Jeff & Julie Cornelius

• Sunday, November 20th: Chuck Pence, Howard Pence, Eric Simon, David A. Hanson, Angie Blouin Sikel, Dennis Blouin, Scott Brekke, Malinda Fennert, Alisha Waalkens, Heather Crabtree Krenke, Kristine Kelly, Rachel Nelson, Holly Mattson

• Monday, November 21st: Paul Wallace, Angie Johnson, Paul Kasper, Desirae Farr, Cheryl Harpel, Greg Schimek, Leah Leak, Leah Maddox Larson, Abby Underland, Dustin Burshem, Robin & Jan Jepson

• Tuesday, November 22nd - Mallory Luhring, her 14th; Whitney McCamish, Jodell Hanson, Keven Larson, Donna Maixner, Jane Tappe, David L. Hanson, Jason Peterson, Jacki Shadden, Elzo Peterson

• Wednesday, November 23rd: Amanda Farr, Amy Hunnicutt Kromminga, Lisa Holmes Rietsema, Margaret Loven, Marietta Sommers Rupe, Rick Thompson, Sara Anderson, Joyce Ditlveson, Amanda Farr, George & Diana Ritz

Wishing you quiet moments of beauty on your special day and may Thanksgiving and every day be a day for giving thanks.

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