Outdoors

Warren’s World: What’s in a Name

Lurching from one near disaster to another ...

Names have always been a very trendy reflection of the times. For example: Many of today’s young adults have one-syllable names, such as Brad or Deb, maybe Chris or Bart. Names that read well in their high school yearbook or on their letterman jackets. The shorter the name the younger the person seems to be.

Names were usually two syllables or longer when I grew up. Some of my friends’ names would get your attention even if you heard them today. Substantial names, such as Ernest, Harvey, Cornelius, Dewey, Oliver, Martin, Herbert, Marvin, Gordon, and even Obie. Good, solid, Depression-born and economically deprived names.

The women’s names? That’s another story. They had names such as Sylvia, Thelma, Doris, Prudence, Wilma, Maxine, Emily, Harriet, Pamela, Joyce, Gertrude, or Abigail. Quite often you could tell what a person did for a living just by their name.

Thelma had a job as a telephone operator. She was short and saucy, a great conversationalist and anyone who ever kissed her, never really forgot her.

Obie worked in a print shop, was 5-foot-2, drank a lot and smoked cheap cigars. He wore clothes that looked like they came from the-you-lost-it-I-found-it store.

Gordy used to work as a bellboy at a hotel. He was California surfer, blonde, 6-foot-2, played high school football, and wrecked his knee. Today he always delivers my mail on time.

Thelma played the accordion. She had red hair and was stoop shouldered. She told everybody, “It was because my mother made me start taking accordion lessons when I was only 6 years old.”

Maxine worked in a gift shop and sold miniature plastic convertible automobiles with a cactus plant in the back seats. She also sold slices of redwood burl with colored paintings of the Golden Gate Bridge on them.

Abigail worked at the riding stable in Malibu. Abigail is 5-foot-10 and weighs about 175 pounds. Her long dark hair frames her blue eyes and she was one beautiful lady. She was very attractive, but she always smelled like she had just shoveled out the manure in the stable and was on her way home to take a shower.

Gretchen was married to a guy named Wolfgang and she always wore dirndl dresses. Wolfgang had greasy fingernails because he repaired Volkswagens in his garage at night while Gretchen was a waitress in a Swiss restaurant in Everett.

Herbert fit the profile that overeaters anonymous was designed for. Five-foot-10 and 291 pounds. His wife weighs the same, but is a lot shorter. He sends me a Christmas card every year from Milwaukee with a note attached that they like it the way they are, because their extra weight keeps them warm during the long winter months.

Prudence was the bookkeeper at a 75-year-old department store. She opened those little round cylinders that used to get vacuumed up to her office with your $10 bill and sales receipt in it. She always made exactly the right change, marked your receipt paid and sent it back to your clerk. Prudence was a religious zealot, and a closet drinker. She never did get married.

Martin drove a modified roadster and was a mechanic at the local garage. He worked on the owner’s racecar that the drivers managed to crash almost every Thursday night at the stadium. The racecar always needed fixing because it never went fast enough to attract a good driver.

Harvey got drafted and after the war he signed up in the regular army. He stayed in it long enough to have five children that the army paid for. He retired with a large enough pension to live in a trailer in Prescott, Ariz. Harvey makes decorator lamps out of sagebrush stumps and sells them for cash at Saturday markets so he doesn’t have to pay taxes on the income.

Sylvia had three daughters that she named Sherrie, Pammie, and Juanita. Sherrie and Pammie spent three summers going to drum majorette and cheerleading summer camp and now both of them work at the local convenience store. Her youngest daughter Juanita went to a summer computer camp and is now a Microsoft millionaire. She lives in a condo in downtown Bellevue and drives a Mercedes convertible. She also owns six condos in Sun Valley, Idaho; she has no children, but has three ex-husbands and skis for two months every winter while trolling for her next.

Her last ex-husbands name was Vincent.

You can usually tell how old someone is by how many letters in his or her given names. The shorter the name is, the younger the person is.