Grand Old Southern Names
After living my entire life in Southern California, I moved to North Carolina: Culture Shock, Ahoy! I sometimes feel as though I am an anthropologist living among and observing a foreign peoples. The phrases "I reckon so" and "you might could do" are still used here. Pig Pickins and Crawdad Festivals are cause for celebration. Easter Monday is a state holiday and there are more varieties of Baptist churches than you could ever imagine. But by far the most interesting aspect of the pure Southern culture is the names; it is so interesting to me, in fact, a year ago I started recording some of my favorite names from the state-wide obituaries published in the Raleigh News & Observer. I doubt you will find many Cleasters or Othas living in other parts of the United States.
Unusual women's names outnumber the men's names by about 4 to 1. Apparently people who name their sons John or Charles like to get creative or whimsical when naming their daughters. First there is a preponderance of "I" names: Iola, Iva, Iona, Ivella, Imojean, Ima Sue, Idella, Irma, and Ilean. Ilean is also an example of variable spelling which includes: Malissa, Myldred, Berdie, Airlean, Aileen, Annita, Maybel, Mabyl, Juelle, Berlinda, Euna, Blance, Lydeah, and Perley. Then there are names which I doubt you would find anywhere but the South: Narcissus, Dimple, Nymphes, Alida, Pernaria, Sudie, Doyette, Verla, Derlie, Beazer, Reca, Dare, Nevella, Louretha, Blonnie, Nula, Niecy, Fernie, Bernell, Margie Bell, Rando, Vysta, Nelma,and Bayetta. Dare of course is popular because of Virginia Dare-- the first colonist born in America.
By far the largest catagory of unusual Southern names given to women is the "een" or "ine" catagory: Berteen, Noreen, Earline, Clarine, Dozene, Ethelene, Atheleen, Erdene, Pearline, Enseldine, Erseldine, Jourleen, Lendine, Undine, Lovine, and Garleen. Say them out loud and it is almost like poetry.
The males are occasionally given unusual names: Livius, Ransome, Lavotis, Wellington, Loy, Flay, Hixton, Craven, Doliver, Napoleon, Swain, Tyrus, Bonnie James, Ludie Earl, Lemon, Velmon, Sherimiah, Sherrard, Pratt, Kermon, Elred, Almond, Zolla, and Badger. While in this case Badger was a Christian name rather than a nickname, male nicknames are a whole 'nother kettle of fish-- with "Fish" being an example.
Animal nicknames include: Bear, Grizzly, Worm, Slug, Buck, Porky, Mole, Frog, Pig, Rat, Bug, Duck, Donkey, Dog, Redbird, Possum, and Skeeter. Do you suppose "Mole" was blind and "Slug" was slow? But what are we to make of "Worm"?
Manly nicknames include: Killer, Mad Dog, Low Rider, Boots, Bro, Woody, and Mack. I hope "Mad Dog" was used ironically.
Not-so Manly nicknames include: Squirt, Elmo, Sonny Boy, Buddy Boy, Shorty, and Pinky. Do you think "Squirt" chose his own nickname?
Then there is the good, old-fashioned nicknames: Jiggs, Flick, Preacher, Foggie, Tink, and Shack. I really like the nickname "Jiggs"-- how many times do you suppose he heard, "The Jiggs is up"?
Female nicknames are much more rare. In the last year the only ones I have recorded are: Sunshine, Baby Sis, Munner, Datie, Sweet Pea, Beady, and Sister Bass. "Baby Sis" was in her 90's when she died-- forever the baby.
The last catagory is the head-scratchers. Only the friends and family know what they refer to: Dibbie,Tree, Tupie, Bunch, Frosty Man, Niney, Red Eye, Boolie, Bronie, Fossile, Ringman, Wahoo, and Shoob. I like to imagine that "Frosty Man" drank his beer very, very cold.
Finally, some names must be presented in the entirity to appreciate their glory. Therefore, Rest in Peace:
Nettie Jane Slumpf
Ollie Lee Lovely