Thursday, June 21, 2012

Whatever happened to Norm and Fred?

I don't mean Norm Larker and Fred Kipp. I mean the names "Norm" and "Fred." You don't see names like that anymore (although now that I think of it, I do know a kid named Fred).

Today everyone is named "Alex" or "Ryan" or "Brett." "Ian" or "Zach" or "Josh."

Perfectly fine names, don't get me wrong.

It's just that I'd get a kick out of it if I saw a kid and asked him his name and he said ...

"Hi. My name is 'Burt.'"

"Fantastic," I'd say back.

How many people do you know named Burt anymore? The first "person" I knew with the name "Burt," or "Bert," was a puppet. The first real person I knew with the name "Burt" was a woman, believe it or not. A neighbor across the street.

Then there is Burt Reynolds, Burt Lancaster and Bert Bacharach. But, damn, all those guys are old ... or dead.

Nope. No "Burt" anymore.

Instead, we have "Dustin" and "Jacob" and "Justin."

Perfectly fine names, of course. But once we had two photographers in our office. One named "Dustin" and one named "Justin." And they'd get mad if you confused the two once in a while. Well, if one of your names was "Fred" this wouldn't be a problem, would it?

We could use a few guys named "Duke," again, too.

OK, so his real name was "Edwin." I actually knew an "Edwin" in high school. But he was an outcast, probably because his name was "Edwin." Should've gone with "Duke." You can't make fun of someone named "Duke."

But there are no "Dukes."

Just "Troys" and "Trevors" and "Codys."

Great names, again. Can't find much wrong with them.

It's just that they're not ...

It's just that they're not "Roy" or "Clem" or "Ed" or "Gil" or "Harold."

OK, not "Harold." But there's no one named "Pee Wee" either.

Some names that you see all the time stand the test of time.

"Jim" and "Bill" and "Mike" and "Willie" and "Andy" were around then and they're around now.

OK, not "Dick."

But "Mark," "Dave," "John" and "Chris" will always be popular.

It's good to have at least some names that were as prominent 60 years ago as they are now.

But "Hunter"? Will time please expire on the popularity of "Hunter"?

As someone who deals with names of young athletes all the time, I am forever encountering unique and new names. Some are absolutely crazy.

But I think if people wanted to be original, without risking having the teacher stare blankly at their name on the attendance sheet and then stammer out something not even close, they could simply name their kid ...

"Norm," or "Fred."

Worried about them getting beat up in school? You worry too much.

Besides, I'd worry about passing that card collecting habit onto your newborn there a little more. That'll put a target on his back.

 (The preceding cards were provided by Commishbob, who has one of those timeless names that never attracts bullies. Now about that name "Greg" ...).


  1. Well, what ever happened to Ethelred, Gwynned, Gruffud, or Cadwaladr?


  2. Fine names. I don't think I have cards of those guys. :)

  3. I knew I shouldn't have sent my son to camp wearing a shirt that said "I collect baseball cards" on it.

  4. I used to know a guy named Elwin but I think you read that post...

    I named my son Corbet but I call him Fred.

  5. As an teacher I had my finger on the pulse of 'kid naming' trends for a long time. "Edwin" is actually making a mini revival. I knew three different Edwins in the last few years.

    But I also knew 529 "Justins", 340 "Dustins" and about that many "Jacobs". There are a lot of "Ryans", too.I can't remember the last "Bob" I had in a class.

    And you're right, I never attracted bullies, I WAS one. I think that's why I became a coach. Every coach (except maybe John Wooden) has a touch of the bully in them.

  6. Great post and oh so true. I've never known a person named Mickey, Ernie, or Harmon either!

  7. In my son's class there is a "Gunner" and his younger brother is named "Rookie", no lie.

    My town is a little too sports crazy.

    BTW, my son's name is Braedan. Finding more kids with his name, but different spellings.