No Baby Yet. But Thanks for Dropping By!

This morning I was flipping through the baby name book, “A Treasury of Baby Names” by Alan Benjamin. This is the book where we found Trombone’s name (because Tuba was too common!) so I thought perhaps his sibling’s name might inhabit it as well. Today I read the Introduction, entitled “The First Gift,” for the first time.

Thankfully, Alan (meaning: handsome) provides not only a comprehensive list of names (including Alaric) but some tips for selection.

“Remember,” he writes, “that the baby girl you’ll soon be showing off to all your friends and family will one day be a woman. So before you decide absolutely on Tinkerbelle, try it on for size. ‘Do you, Tinkerbelle, take this man…?’ ‘Aunt Tinkerbelle?’ ‘Grandma Tinkerbelle?’ ‘Dr. Tinkerbelle’? Maybe you should think again.”

(What this man has against drag queens, I do not know.)

“Remember, too, that the baby boy…will probably tower over you before you know it. I doubt that Marion Morrison would have become the American film hero he did if he hadn’t changed the gift of his name for the one we remember him by – John Wayne. Shirley Povich, on the other hand, was able to overcome the considerable odds against him and to [sic] become one of the best-known sportswriters of his generation.”

(Huh. I’ve never heard of him. Oh, but is he Maury’s dad? There’s a claim to fame!)

“But everyone isn’t so strong. The Hogg sisters of pre-consciousness-raising Texas died spinsters and recluses, the victims of their given names – Ima, Sheesa and Ura.”

Lest you bristle at this initially but forgive the writer, as I did, because surely this book was first published in 1902, allow me to clarify that it was, in fact, published in 1983. With its bald face hanging out.


1. My sweet baboo do I hate the word “spinster.”
2. Seriously? You’re either making up people to mock or else you’re mocking real people. As a cautionary tale to name your child carefully? Alan, I don’t need your advice. I need a book of name definitions.
3. Whatever else these people might have achieved, it doesn’t matter one whit to you, Alan, because they none of them ever got a gold band and thus eternal happiness?

So I googled the unfortunately named, single-to-the-death, no-one-will-screw-them Hogg sisters to see a) if they were real and b) if the Internet would tell me anything about them.

And oh look, there was only one Hogg daughter, (three Hogg sons, though) indeed named Ima. Daughter of the Governor of Texas. Here are some of the things Ima did in her life.

– created the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at the University of Texas
– helped found the Houston Symphony
– was elected to the Houston School Board where she fought for equal pay for women and minority teachers
– introduced art classes into black schools at a time when schools were still segregated
– liked The Beatles and
– died in her ’90s

Also, “…in June 1968, the University of Texas bestowed the prestigious Santa Rita Award on Miss Ima, the first person to receive it, for her activity in higher education.” ( from Houston )

True, at the same link, she is quoted as saying, “Many people assume that if one has plenty of money, one’s situation is ideal. They forget that I have no husband, no children and no close relatives in Houston.” But I hardly think this is reason to call her a spinster and a recluse and certainly not to blame her name for it. She was a highly successful, influential woman, unlike you, Alan Benjamin, a quick google of whom turns up approximately 85 different lawyers, one Canadian band whose url is non-existent anymore and oh! yes! the guy who wrote a Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer TV tie-in board book. Just saying.

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