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August 14, 2011

Oh, those Nancy Girls!

By Nancy Pickard and Nancy Martin

 Okay, so every other Monday, the H Girls--Harley, Hank, and Heather--get their days in the sun.  The two Nancy's on this blog think we're overdue for a Nancy Day, but it's really an All-About-Names day, including YOURS.

There are studies that claim our names go a long way toward forming us, or at least toward forming other people's perceptions of us.  If that were not so, so many movie stars might not have changed theirs. Can you name the movie stars to go with these monikers?  (Answers below)>

Marlon Junior Brandeau

Maurice Micklewhite

Tula Ellice Finklea

Eric Marlon Bishop

Caryn Johnson

Julie Anne Smith

Sarah Ophella Colley Cannon

Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra

Annie Mae Bullock

Walter Willison

A hint.  ^^^^^^^

While you're figuring that out, we lipsticked Nancy's have a few things to say. . .

Q. The Brits use "Nancy-Girl," as a disparagement!  As in, "Blimey, don't be such a bleedin' Nancy-Girl!"  What do you think of THAT?

NancyM:  As much as they'd like us to believe it, not all Brits are descendents of Winston Churchill.

NancyP: I think they have no idea how tough a Nancy has to be, just from being named Nancy.They ought to be saying, "Blimey, he's tough as a Nancy-Girl!" My son and his two best friends all have moms named Nancy. A few years ago, they were using the "Nancy-Girl" epithet, and I said, "You do realize all of your mothers are Nancy's?" They looked shocked, because it hadn't hit them before. I don't believe they say that any more.

Q. Did you like your name when you were growing up?  Did you want a different name, and if so, what?

NancyM: I'm not sure why, but in my small town, Nancy was a very popular name.  (So was Randy.  Because the local OB-GYN was named Randon, who was very handsome and charming, and my mother thinks a lot of local women fell hard for him. There must have been dozens of Randys in my high school.) I have no clue why Nancy was so popular, though. There were 3 Nancys in my homeroom alone.  I was named after my aunt Nancy (who became a psycho-analyst and college professor and political activist--therefore an amazing role model) but part of me also believes I was named after Nancy Sinatra, because my mother ADORED Frank Sinatra.  She won't admit it, though. Me, I longed to be a Vanessa. 

 NancyP: I hated it. It was so. . .Nancy-Girl. I wanted to be Elizabeth, which is also pretty feminine, but not as "nice," probably due to a couple of Queens and a certain movie star.

Q. Were you a Nancy Drew girl?

NancyM:  Of course!  In my neighborhood, I always got to play the role of Nancy Drew, too, which I think contributed to me going into theater.  (How many writers were theater majors, I wonder?) My dad had a couple of very spiffy roadsters, and when I was allowed to drive them, I felt very Nancy Drew-ish. I did not, however, date nice boys like Ned.

NancyP:  I owe it all to Nancy Drew. And, hey, I was almost a theater major! But the real theater majors intimidated mousy me, so I went into shy, retiring journalism, instead.

Q. Here's a dinner party of Nancy's:  Nancy Sinatra, Nancy Reagan, and Nancy from Oliver Twist. Nancy Pelosi, Nancy Thayer, Nancy Hanks (Abraham Lincoln's mom), Nancy Wilson, Nancy Pearl of librarian and NPR fame, and rich person Nancy Astor.   In an arm-wrestling contest over the bananas flambee, who wins?

NancyM: My money is on Nancy Pearl.  (How many librarians have their own action figures??) Nancy Wilson a close second, if we're talking about the jazz singer. That Nancy Wilson is Da Bomb.

NancyP: My money's on Nancy Reagan who was one tough broad. Even though she's probably smaller than any of the rest, I'd bet on her to stare them down and in their moment of cringing before that deadly stare, their arms would weaken and bam!,she'd have them.

Q. Do you think our names form us?

NancyM: Nancy is a name that comes from our grandmothers' age, we had to fight the old lady stigma.  It made us stronger, more powerful women, don't you think?  Which makes me glad I was not a Vanessa. I'd have been a totally different person if I was Vanessa.  Probably nicer, though.

NancyP: I agree it made us stronger. For years I fought the "stigma" of being thought "nice." Nice Nancy. Blech. Then I realized I actually am fairly nice, so I stopped trying so hard. But the name still rests uneasily on my psyche.

Q. Does anybody call you Nan, or Nance, or any other variation?  Did anybody ever call you "Nanny" and live to tell about it?

NancyM: Actually, I was "Nat" within my family.  My sister used to call me "Nanny" when she really wanted to piss me off. Nowadays, I'm frequently called "Nance," which I don't think is a nickname enjoyed by any Nancy.  My husband calls me "Bunny."  But now I'm "Nanna," which I love.

NancyP: Nanna! Now there's a lovely variation on our theme. My dad once berated a girl who called me "Nanny" to tease me. Go, Dad! I went through an embarrassing phase a few years ago--probably when I was shifting into a new kind of novel (for me)--when I asked some friends to start calling me "Nan." (Rolls eyes at self.) They kindly obliged, but now I'm fine with "Nancy" again and I don't have the nerve to tell them.

Q. Why have we gone out of style? 

NancyM: I blame Nancy Reagan.

NancyP:  Works for me.

Q. Edna St. Vincent Millay published books under the name Nancy Boyd!   Did we know that?

NancyM: No kidding? What kind of books? Can I download one to my iPad? (And what would Edna think of that?)

NancyP: It's hard to find info on her fiction. 

I've read that she did short stories and novels, but the only example I can find is a book called, DISTRESSING DIALOGUES, which is apparently a compilation of stories and essays she did for Vanity Fair. It's availble from Abe's Books for a mere $50.00.

I love this quote I found: "Millay mocked her own reputation for romanticism. She addresses her celebrity in a November 1922 column signed with her nom de plume Nancy Boyd: "the girl sitting at the next table was Edna St. Vincent Millay . . . eating an enormous plate of sauerkraut and sausages . . . Such a shock. I had always imagined her so ethereal."

So what's in YOUR name?

Marlon Brando - Marlon Junior Brandeau

Michael Caine - Maurice Micklewhite

Cyd Charisse - Tula Ellice Finklea

Jamie Foxx - Eric Marlon Bishop

Whoopie Goldberg - Caryn Johnson

Julianne Moore - Julie Anne Smith

Minnie Pearl - Sarah Ophella Colley Cannon

Meg Ryan - Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra

Tina Turner - Annie Mae Bullock

Bruce Willis - Walter Willison



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I got one correct, the first and easiest one . . . oh well.

My middle name is Marie, she must have been the nicest of my dad's sisters (he had 5) because a whole lot of my generation of girls got the middle name Marie. My dad with his 1 brother & 5 sisters & my mom with 2 sisters, there are over 50 of us in my generation, that is a lot of middle Marie's.

When I was in Grade 8 or so, Gay started meaning gay . . . Since I lived in redneck city I got teased mercilessly or people thought it was okay to tell me mean gay jokes. When I was 21 I had a job that included wearing a name tag, the boss wouldn't put Gay on the tag so I started using Gaylin.

I have a cousin somewhere in the US on my mom's side who was named Galen. She thought it was too pretty of a name for a boy so respelled it and voila, me.

I went to school with one Nancy, I wonder where she is now?

Oh and then Planet of the Apes came out and a main character named Galen, again with the teasing.

My high school first love was named Nancy. And Gaylin, her middle name was Marie! actually, I can't even count all the females with Marie as a middle name that I know. Must be at least 6-7 in my family alone.

In my family, many of us have multiple names/nicknames. So my given name is Robert, but everybody in my family and a few lifelong friends call me Bo, and all of my friends & employers from age 16 on call me Doc. There have been other names, too...some with actual identification cards/papers to back them up. But we won't discuss them:)

After you two, my favorite Nancy is Nancy Mitford. I love Nancy Mitford. I think she could mock Nancy Reagan into submission.

My dad's first dog when he was little boy was named Nancy. When my mom had my older sister, she wanted to name her Nancy, but my dad said no, he was not naming his baby after a dog.

I'm named after my dad (Raymond). That's the official story, anyway. My mom says she named me after a character in this dopey old romance movie called Back Street, which was about dashing and rich John Gavin cheating on his wife--who was mean, so the affair was okay. The mistress was named Rae Smith. My nickname was supposed to be Rae, but I got stuck with Mona instead. So my dad thinks I'm his namesake, but I'm really named after an amour played by Susan Hayward.

Amazing that Bruce Willis is actually a Walter. And Whoopie a Caryn? There must be something to this name stuff.

I was called Laurie by my family and my friends and teachers in school all the way through high school. My Aunt Fran thought Laura was a pretty name and was the only one who called me that when I was young. Then I got my first job at 17 (working in a drug store), and the paperwork said Laura, and the manager put it on my name tag, and I've been Laura ever since. It dies seem like it gives a different vibe than Laurie. It's funny that you can tell how long I've known someone by what they call me. My husband calls me Laura, but I'm still Laurie to my siblings and high school friends.

Speaking of my Aunt Fran, I'm sure she and my mother, Agnes, had their share of name teasing. My mother hates her name (my sister used to call her "Agony" behind her back), so was determined to give all her kids "normal" names.

I work with a few Nancys. And there must be something to the Randy thing - two of my sisters married Randys.

Archibald Leach = Cary Grant

Bernard Schwarz = Tony Curtis

The name 'William' means "protector of the kingdom or realm." (Tell me God has no sense of humor.... go ahead, TRY....:))

Judith or Judy was rather boring until I was an adult and enjoying subjects that a kid would rather eat broccoli than attend to.

However, being associated with the painting "Judith with the head of Holofernes" has not necessarily been a good thing.

"Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving . . ."

The name's been in my family for generations, including Elizabeth, my middle name. I was called Betsy for the first two months of my life. Luckily, wiser heads prevailed.

My "real life" name is Lisa, which wouldn't bother me if it wasn't such a common name for my generation. (I think it's because Eileen Fulton played a very popular soap character at that time.) One year in grade school, I was one of five--count 'em, five--Lisas in my class. Everyone called us by our last name initials--Lisa H., Lisa R., etc., which gave me the unpleasant feeling that I had just stepped off an assembly line. ("Hi, my name's Lisa, and I now come in six-packs!")

It could've been worse, though. One of my aunts wanted my mother to name me Hillary, after--seriously--one of the chickens she owned. I always felt I dodged a bullet with that one.

Lisa was the most popular girls' name for much of the 1960s. If I couldn't tell just by counting the Lisas around me, the SSA stats confirm it (it's fun browsing, if you've never seen it, http://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/). Once I tried to convince my mom she really named me "Elizabeth," which I thought sounded more elegant, but she wouldn't go for it.

Hi Nancies,

I think i've told the story about Nancy, my mother-in-law who was named Anne. She was called Nancy, because the maid's name was Anne, and she was there first. Like Nancy P there was a period in her life when she was called Nan, but she got over that and started calling herself Nancy again too.

Marie-Reine is a very old family name on my mother's side. The earliest instance I've found is my sometiumpth great-grandmother in 1540-something or other. I was actually named Maureen at birth to please my father and his family. He wanted to name me Kathleen but settled for Maureen. I prefer Reine, but I let Auntie-Mom call me Maureen. She has this whole Irish thing going, so who am I to spoil that for her?

Undine . . . chicken . . . bullet dodging. So funny! Hahaha!

Nancy Reagan gets her hair done at my salon and believe me, she's not winning any arm-wrestling contests. She's a little sparrow of a women. Back in the day, however... and the name Harley means "rabbit meadow" which is ironic because guess who's in charge of keeping the rabbit alive while my daughter's in summer camp?

Karen was a very popular name 54 years ago. There were three in my first grade class and there were only 10 children in my classroom. My mother tells me I was named after some woman she admired. I don't know where my middle name of Louise came from. I've always thought my name was boring.

In an interesting coincidence, Karen in Ohio, myself and Laura In PA were speaking with Louise Penney at the Festival of Mystery in May. We discovered that in addition to sharing the same first name we also shared Louise as a middle name. We don't go as far as sharing the same maiden name (an archaic word I know), but they both do start with Br.

I know that Nancy has to be name with Biblical origin because and Amish woman I know is name Nancy. They only give names from the Bible. It seems the meaning of the name is grace or favor. Nancy seems to describe both of you very well.

At my recent high school reunion everyone was asking Dmitri why he changed his name to Dmitri. A couple of classmates changed their names for a variety of reasons like adoption or cultural heritage. Dmitri changed from David to Dmitri to not have a common name. He said that David was the most common boys name in 1963 when he was born. He was tired of someone calling his name and not meaning him. Right after turning 18, good bye Dave, hello Dmitri.

When I worked in a middle school there were 13 Christines. I knew this because the student data system didn't have enough spaces for the first name for Christine. Every list it kicked out I needed to ad the last e to. I think there were about ten Alexises as well.

A good look at names is from Freakonomics http://www.slate.com/id/2116449/

NancyM and NancyP, you make a great comedy team! Love the topic. I got Marlon Brando and Caryn Johnson/Whoopie right. And thanks, William, for supplying Cary and Tony. I was going to go look!

Last night I went to a grade school reunion. We're all turning 60, so this was a sort of joint birthday party for the eighth grade class of '65. Our grade school was one of eight Catholic feeder elementary schools, and everyone went to the same Catholic high school, except for the ones who went to the public schools instead. Two of the women there had gone to public high schools, and I had not seen either of them since our eighth grade graduation. It was pretty cool, and a lot of fun.

This morning I was reminiscing, and realized I was the only Karen in that group, even though there were four Kathys, and in our high school graduation class there were six Kathys and five Karens, or vice versa. But there were three Connies in our class, and two Theresas. Since Karen was one of the most common baby names in the early 50's, for a long time, that's kind of odd that there was only one in our class of maybe 75-80.

Yes, Peach, that was funny! I know at least three other Karens with the middle name of Louise, too. My mother wasn't especially inventive with names, except for my first name. My middle name was after my godmother's middle name, and my sister was named after her, entirely: Barbara Louise. My older brother was named after our dad, and then that brother named the next brother, and since his sisters both had the same middle names, our little brother had to have the same middle name as he and our dad, Allen. Wackadoo.

My husband is Steve, and his twin is Dave. They have countless friends named Steve or Dave. It gets confusing. At one point when we were dating I had two girlfriends who were also dating guys named Steve. At one memorable poolside conversation about men, I realized we all knew exactly which Steve we meant. It was pretty funny.

Oh, yes, and when my oldest daughter, who is named Christine, was playing soccer, one team had SIX girls with variations of that name. They called them all different things: Christy, Chris P, etc., for clarification.

Those of you who were not given the same name as a farm animal, congratulations! My dad had a cow named Sandy. When I arrived Mom said he could choose my name and she got to choose the spelling. I'm Sandra but I've always gone by Sandi. (Sandra is a derivative of Alexander which means "defender of mankind." Huh.)

My mom is also a middle name Marie! We have several fairly unusual names in my mom's family - there's my aunt Mickey (not short for anything) and my aunt Pat's middle name was Ladean. My great grandmother's name was Flossie, again not short for anything. Worse, her married name was Flossie Kettlehorn. Awesome lady. I always loved the names of my dad's mother and grandmother - Ruby Mae and Clio Elizabeth.

My husband's aunt is nicknamed Bunny. Everyone thinks it's because she was born on Easter Sunday. The real reason is because they told her big sister (my mother-in-law) that they were bringing home a surprise. When they showed her her new baby sister, she said "I don't want THAT. I want a bunny."

I totally forgot to mention that the real problem with my name is not the Nancy, it's the Pickard, because nobody knows how to pronounce it. PicKARD.

Nancy Martin is on the road today, but she sends her best regards to everybody who was ever nice to a Nancy. (I made up that last part.)

I'm legally "Fran" now, but it took a divorce to finally get there. I had a completely different name when I was born, then my mom changed my name to "Francie Ellen" when I was, I dunno, 2 or something.

I loathed "Francie". With a deep purple passion. And the only thing I despise/detest/will commit unspeakable acts of violence over is "Franny". Seriously, I've stopped talking to people who use it. Simply refuse to acknowledge their existence. Hate it.

But I've grown into "Fran" and I'm comfortable here now. I tried using "Ellen" for a while since I love it, but I'm just not an "Ellen". I sometimes wish I was, but I have no idea who she really is, if that makes ANY sense at all.

I also answer to "Branwen", but that's a whole 'nother story.

My greatgrandmother was named Charlotte, which means "little woman" in French. Which she was. Just over 5' tall, and very lightboned, with short white, elegantly finger-waved hair. Because she was so tiny we all called her Little Grandma.

We named my middle daughter after her, Robin Charlotte, and she's the only offspring of Little Grandma, of hundreds, with her name. I was a bit worried that Robin wouldn't like the name, but when she was playing pretend she always used the name Charlotte.

And Robin is also tiny, 5' 4", and about 110 pounds. Soaking wet.

I've discovered that there are many "secret Marys" in my area -- Kathy is really Mary Kathryn, Beth is really Mary Beth -- add those to neighbors Mary Ellen and Mary Ann, coworker Maryann, and neighbor Woody's girlfriend Mary, and it's no wonder a friend asked, "Have you moved into a convent?"

On my father's side of the family, I am Mary Frances . . .
and a friend in Texas is Mary Grace, because, "If your mama went to the trouble of giving you two names, she expects you to use them both."

Oh, and Undine, when I was teaching, I once had 3 "Jose Hernandez"es in one class, and two had the same middle name. I had words with the registrar that year.

Regarding Nancie-girls, I like this post: http://kiwords.blogs.com/kiwords/2011/07/advice-for-mothers.html

It's weird to Google or Facebook search your own entire name and see who else comes up. There is a very active soccer/basketball playing young woman who is also named Holly Gault. Neither of those names are really common, so it was unexpected to see her.

NancyP, no one addicted to Star Trek: TNG would make a mistake on pronouncing your last name.

In the late 1950s, I think every third baby girl was named Mary.

All of my life people have called me Mary Stella. Some people know me for months before they even realize that Stella is my last name. I'm so used to it that I no longer notice.

I'm also regularly treated to dramatic Brando/Stanley Kowalski imitations of Stelllllaaaaaa.

My aunt and godmother on the Italian side of the family was named Vincenza. When she went to school the nuns declared it too long and wanted her to change it. Her family nickname was Dolly but the nuns wouldn't let her use a non-Saint's name. Sothey began to call her Nancy. These days, the outcome would be different, but back then my grandparents wouldn't have tried to buck the authority of the Catholic church.

Holly, I love the advice link -- hysterical!! We worked hard to get students to stop using "gay" as slam. One student finally quelled it for a time. She told her class that it upset her to hear that because she had a cousin who was gay and had suffered from put-downs. We then began pointing out, any time we heard it, that there was almost certainly someone in the room who would be personally affected by the insult, either themselves or on behalf of a loved one. I'm not sure we changed hearts, but they did get tired enough of the lecture that the use stopped at least in our presence.

Oh Nancy, I thought I took care of that years ago. Remember .........?

"I listened as two readers bickered
Over their favorite Nancy PICKard.
Now listen, dears, and listen hard:
The writer's name is Ms. PicKARD."

Hi, Nancys!

My sister is Nancy..I call her Nance. Her father called her Nan-no-nah-nee.

My mothers name is Mriam--her mother named her after the actress Miriam Hopkins. Her sisters are Sylvia (afer Sylvia Sydney) and and NOrma (after Norma Shearer.) Gramma Rose was big on movies.

Yeah, NAncyP, that NancyM thing sounds made up. xoxo

Oh, egad, I'm in las Vegas and it's totally true-----you don't know what time it is here. Or, apparently, what day it is! Sorry I am so late chiming in. I am currentlynbabysitting my granddaughter---talk about the perfect vacation!

I've not read TLC in a whole week (it's finals week and other things keeping me busy) so am just catching up now. This isn't a hijack so much as a belated reply to Barbara O'Neal's post earlier in the week:

Barbara, Karen and others who are targeted by mosquitoes: Do Not Wear Blue any time before bright sunlight or after the first hint of dusk. Mosquitoes and bumblebees LOVE blue. Truly. Ask me how I know. Being chased across acres of cactus-laden south Texas desert by a mad bumblebee taught me big lessons. LEAVE the blue at home if you're going to be around the critters.

Now, happily back to finishing reading and catching up. I miss you TLC folks when I can't get over here to read.

Hi Nancys:
My dad's name was Anthony. He had a brother who was eighteen months older and could not pronounce the name. The closest he could come to it was Nanny, and so Dad was Nanny for the rest of his life! Well, except to my mom, who called him Nan. I think she could not bring herself to call a guy Nanny!
Margaret, my middle name is Margaret. It was my mom's name and is the name of one of my nieces and is the name of my sister-in-law as well. There are a whole bunch of Margarets at work. At one time, there were two of them in one office and both had the nickname "Peggy".

Deborah means "honeybee". I have used that as my sign in name on other sites. I was called Debbie for my entire childhood and I HATE it. My closer friends call me Deb. Most of my family does now, too, although there are still a few who cannot seem to remember the shorter version of my name!

Well, what can I say about names? I'm the only one on here with the name Laraine spelled the way it is; I SO wanted to have an ordinary name (in school, that meant Susan/Nancy/Linda) and tried at one point to have everyone call me something else. On the one hand, having an almost always unique name has meant that I've never felt the least tempted to feel like I'm just one of dozens or hundreds . . . but it has also possibly contributed to my never quite feeling like one of the 'gang' in high school and sometimes thereafter.
Having an unusual name may make you stronger, or it may not, but I've always thought names with meaning --William, Bradley (broad meadow), Harley--bring a certain level of inevitability with them about the character and temperament of the name bearer. Not to say that there's anything inevitable about Harley keeping her daughters' rabbits . . . beyond the usual child/parent inevitability thing.

When I was growing up I would hear the phrae "Marie t'en prie" and learned that it was based on this song


Nancy M, waving at you out there having fun!

My name is Rona, pronounced Renee by my mother (now deceased), Ronnah by my grandparents and grade school, Ronnie, in high school and college and until I got a divorce, then I finally decided to have it pronounced Row-nuh, because that is the way Rona Barrett pronounced it and she was a celebrity back then. And I got to decide for myself. I was almost named after my grandmonthers,Gertrude and Kaatje, so I guess if you just call me to dinner that's good enough.

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