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Southern Traditions: Crazy Names

Holle is a retired English and creative writing teacher who writes on a variety of topics.

You'd never believe the crazy names you'd come across as a teacher.

You'd never believe the crazy names you'd come across as a teacher.

Living in the South

Living in the South for more than fifty years, I've heard some crazy names. I’ve always wondered how parents chose some of the crazy names they’ve given their offspring. Did they think for a minute about the poor kids being saddled with those monikers for life? I’m thinking not. Of course, when the kids got old enough, they could always go to court and have it changed, by but that time, what’s the point. They would have already endured years of ribbing from childhood friends and classmates, right?

Student Names

At the beginning of every school year, we teachers would receive our class rosters a day or two before the students arrived. It was always a real eye-opener to peruse these. Sometimes when we came upon a really strange name, we’d share it with our fellow teachers. Some of the following are names of students I taught, and some of these kids were taught by my friends. The most memorable of all have to be the twins Orangejello and Lemonjello, pronounced or-AHN-jahlo and la-MON-jahlo, respectively. Here are some more:

  • Colorado Utah Hill
  • Rusty Fender
  • Tequila Tuesday (I thought those were best enjoyed on the weekends?)
  • Queen Esther Washington
  • Lil’ Chara Jones
  • Anita Gunn (who ya gonna shoot?)
  • Skye Green (must be a storm coming)
  • Stormy Waters
  • Bob Cox (sounds painful!)
  • Mae Flowers
  • April Rainwater
  • Browne Barry
  • Fonda Peters (I’m fond of other body parts, too)
  • Sandi Rhodes
  • Standard Ford (this is an actual name!)
  • Iva Pinkney (why is it pink?)
  • Sonny Ray
  • Crystal Light
  • Liki House (fix the roof!)
  • Jacob Doug Wells
  • Lisa Carr (I think I’d rather buy one)
  • C. Shell (Charlie)
  • Red Barnhill (His real name was Greg, but since he had red hair, the nickname was inevitable.)

Alphabetical Order

Sometimes the names on my roster were funny only when read as they were listed – in alphabetical order, with last name first:

  • Gay, Peters
  • Rivers, Flo
  • Johns, Dick
  • Popp, Cornie
  • Sweete, Candy
  • Beanblossom, Brandi (I guess you can make alcohol out of anything!)
  • Greene, Ivey
  • Sometimes Just the First Name Alone Was Enough to Raise Eyebrows:
  • Octaboona
  • Mundrickus
  • Flindivia
  • Patrocious
  • Karindashaka
  • Mascara
  • Felonious
  • Fabrica
  • Lexapro

The Southern Tradition That’s Not Always Charming

And then we have an old Southern tradition that enters into the picture. Many Southern families use a family surname as a middle name. For example, my youngest daughter, whose maiden name was Harris, named her son Tristan Harris Crow. That name is fine, but some others I’ve known are truly strange:

  • Sarah Eates Dix
  • Ima Little Green (with envy?)
  • John Fuller Schitt (better call a plumber)
  • Jeremy White Byrd
  • Hope Raines Downs (sounds like a subject-verb agreement error)
  • Patrick Black Tyre
  • Stanley Glass Payne

Married Names

Sometimes women can have perfectly normal names until they get married and aquire their husband’s last name. This almost happened to me. My maiden name was Holle Cook. When I first started college, I dated a guy from Florida for a while. His name was Christopher Potts. After a few months, my mom informed me that there was no way I could marry this guy. When I asked why not, she replied, “Just think about how the wedding announcement would look in the paper – Cook-Potts wedding announced!”

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I hadn’t thought of that. We broke up anyway because he transferred to a college in South Florida. I was spared from becoming Holle Cook Potts.

I had a casual friend once named Pam Reddish. She married Jim Valentine, so she became a Reddish Valentine. A friend of a friend was named Kelli White. When she married Jason Lamb, she became a White Lamb.

One of the funniest is when Sherri Lima married Richard Beane. Although Sherri’s last name was pronounced “lee-ma,” it sure looked funny in print: Sherri Lima Beane!

One of My Friends

I have a friend with the unusual name of Mary Christmas. When I see her in a store, I love to shout out, “Mary Christmas!” to get her attention. Of course, people always give me weird looks, especially when I happen upon her in July.

Terrible Teacher Name

When my husband was in the seventh grade, his science teacher was Mrs. Tiddy. To make matters worse, she was extremely well endowed – if you know what I mean. Can you imagine a seventh-grade boy having to address her? Johnny said he didn’t ask any questions all year. By the way, her husband was Coach Tiddy.


Southern Nicknames

As if the real names aren't bad enough, there are lots of southern nicknames that are embarrassing, strange, and downright silly. "Bubba" and "Bubby" are both common. We also have "Cooter" and "Scooter." I knew two brothers once who were saddled with these names. For a son named Richard, Jr., it's not at all unusual for the boy to be called "Little Dick." And then there are the doubles, like "John-John," "Sue-Sue," and "Pete-Pete." These aren't so bad, except for a few cases where the double name means something else, like "Tom-Tom." Oh, and that reminds me of two other southern nicknames: Drummer and Drumstick. A few other examples I've heard are Gator, Mule, Monkey, Stretch, Tiger, Lump, Ogre, Q-Ball, Red, Whitey, Corndog, Mullet, and Rummy - and that's just the guys. For females, we have Puddin', Boo, Shortie, Sis, Sweetie, and Littlun'. Unfortunately, these nicknames often stick with the poor owners throughout their lifetimes. Can you imagine an eighty-year-old woman being called "Littlun'"?

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