What’s in a Name?

My parents were part of the Greatest Generation.  In our family just about everyone of that  generation in my Dad’s family had a nickname. While nicknames are still around, they are nowhere near as common as they seemed to be for folks of that generation.

My Dad’s name was Harry and his nickname was “Boots.”  I have no idea why and I was not smart enough to ask him while he was still with us.  I never heard anybody call him anything but Boots, other than my Grandfather.  My Dad had two brothers, Lionel and Joseph, whose  nicknames were “Duck” and “Piggy,” respectively.  Again I have not a clue of their origins.  When I was a kid, everybody except my Grandfather called them by their nicknames.  To him they were always Harry Bruce, Lionel and Joe Henry.

My dad had four sisters: Loretta, Margaret, Olive and Joan.  Aunt Loretta’s nickname was “Sis.”  Aunt Margaret was known as “Marg,”  Aunt Olive was called “Ollie” and Aunt Joan was known as “Jo Ann.”

Loretta never married. I don’t think Aunt Margaret’s husband John had a nickname, but his son John, Jr. was called “Junior” well into his high school years by all in the family.  Aunt Ollie’s husband Francis, who everybody called “Frank,” was the only person I can remember that always called her by her given name Olive Marie, or most of the time, Marie.  Uncle Frank was from southern Maryland.  He called the men “Hoss” as in “Hey Hoss, how you doing?” I don’t recall  Aunt Joan’s husband Ralph having a nickname.

My Mother’s name was Mildred and her nickname was “Medee.”  as in “Me Dee.”  Again, everybody called her by her nickname, including my Dad.  And as for me, my name was Harry Bruce Jr., but everybody in the family called me by my middle name as did friends, schoolmates, teachers, and whatever.

I had to own up to my first name of Harry when I joined the US Air Force.  It was just much less confusing to everyone to be known as Harry.  Most of my adult life I’ve been Harry or “HarryB” to the outside world, but I’m still “Bruce” as far as the family is concerned.