Opinion

The times – and names – they are a changing | Pat Cashman

I just ran across an old thank you card I’d once written to my Aunt Gertrude. I was eight-years old and I’d penned to her: “Dear Auntie, thank you for the birthday card you sent me with only five dollars in it.”

The reason I still have the card is because my mom intercepted it before it was mailed. I still don’t understand what was wrong with my simple words of gratitude.

When our first daughter was born, I briefly considered naming her Gertrude, after my (only five dollars) aunt, but my wife vetoed it immediately.

“It’s out-of-style,” she insisted. “She’ll be called Gert or Trudy. Might as well send her straight to a senior center.”

It is true. Names go out of fashion as surely as hairstyles, leisure suits and high-gluten foods.

I recently – and reluctantly – had to inform my friends Fred, Harold and Edna that their names were not hip anymore. And they replied, “Thank you – PAT.”

Girl’s names that are out now include Mildred, Agatha and Dorothy – unless you are REALLY hip parents, in which case they ARE cool names again.

Town names for newborns are now de rigueur. Names like Brooklyn, Madison and Austin. However, some city names are slower in becoming popular for newborns, such as Newcastle, Renton and Kingsgate.

But surprisingly, “Factoria” Jenkins was born just last week. Her parents had hoped to have her at Overlake Hospital, but she came early at the Nordstrom Rack.

My friend, Clyde Hill, has no comment.

According to a research site, the name Gertrude – like my five-buck aunt – was once quite trendy: in 1907. In that year, thousands of girls were given the name. But within a few years, no girls were given the name. Except for two boys: legendary football tackle Gertie Smith and mafia don, Trudy Rizzo. No one ever gave either of them a bad time about it.

For other boys, Ernest, Clifford, Leonard and Herbert are as obsolete now as My Space. And someone should give the great Seattle Mariner designated hitter, Edgar Martinez, the bad news about his first name.

Richard has also fallen way down the list. I will not tell you why in print.

If a kid does have a traditional name, it’s now important to spell it differently: Carl should be spelled Karll or Caarl. Ben should be Benn or Behn. Jane should be Jayyne or Jaine. And so on. I mean, so “awne.”

It’s confusing. Just as soon as a name is labeled as out of style – it comes roaring back. Adolph still isn’t in vogue, but Oswald is – along with Alfred, Linus, Otto and even Roscoe. And Alice, Beatrix and Millie have suddenly become hip.

Bertha? Not yet. Especially for big tunnel boring machines.

For girls, it seems like certain flower and plant names can’t go wrong: Fuchsia, Daisy, Rose, Violet and Iris. Not as appealing so far are Nasturtium, Crocus and Skunk Cabbage.

Pansy has not yet caught on as a boy’s name.

But wait a week.

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