Names, names, names. What’s in a name? Everything! In the very earliest days of naming, last names were descriptive of what the person did or where they were from. So Henry Cooper was a barrel maker and his kid might have been William Cooperson. It made sense. In Germany, even today, anyone with a Von before their last name was noble born, as in Von Trapp or Von Hindenburg. That also accomplished a purpose, because a tradesman would better know how to treat you.
Today is not as clear cut. Sometimes it takes someone with a tilted ear to put the name in proper context. (Saying these names out loud makes the reason they are in this column clearer to the rapier-like mind of the average Glosta reader.) They are culled from the last three years of mainly New York Times and Wall Street Journal news articles.
It all started with a councilman in Iowa, named Howard Culper. The he ran for mayor. Now he’s Mayor Culper. Or how about the assistant Scandinavian emissions monitor in Norway named Grace Hoodt. Reading an article about an inn called The Flintstone in Vilma, Poland, I wondered if the manager’s name is Fred. And don’t we all long to meet a Mr. Conneghy Hall, who is an orchestra conductor in Holland (instead of West 57th St. in New York).
Jerry Mandrin -- an election attorney in Georgia, naturally. And, of course, it shouldn’t be too hard to get an appointment with a psychiatrist in Bolivia named Kno Juan Caird.
Imagine speaking to Beth Western, a hotel administrator. Hope she doesn’t have a lisp.
Authors of “The Way to Do Things,” Fran Wright and Nevar Wong. A diver named Matt Ayer. An umpire for the New York Horse Racing Association named Jason Blewitt.
Or an upstate New York butcher named Fernando Kutz.
That cranky, grim-faced coach who for years stalked the LSU football sidelines was named Les Myles.
Listened to Lauri Ticker, a stock analyst for CNN the other afternoon. A Yankee fan named Ken Krier.
Or a Kansas dogcatcher named Ted Wagstaffe? Gary Trust is director of the Billboard charts. But best of all, I once heard a folk singer named Peter Palmari.
In sports, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz threw passes to Zack Ertz. So it was: Wentz to Ertz! Grant Balfour and Josh Outman, two relief pitchers for the Oakland As; Milwaukee Brewers’ Prince Fielder; super slugger Carlos Beltran for the Houston Astros; long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad; golfer Tiger Woods and his buddy, Jeremy Irons. Alge Crumpler could block for the Patriots but couldn’t catch in the clutch. Jonathan Quick is goalie for the LA Kings; field goal kicker Brian Longwell boots for the Vikings and forward Johnny Boychuk used to slam ‘em into the boards for the Bruins.
There really is a New York Jets’ pass defense player name of Buster Skrine.
And when the Pats won the last Sooper Bowl, we were helped by a late-game penalty by, of course, the Rams Dante Fowler.
More sports? Dodger pitcher Josh Smoker. Another Dodgers pitcher, Walker Buehler. Whew, Walker and Smoker. Sounds like a good bourbon.
Baseball reliever Mike Wacha is a pitcher the Cardinals who love to play spring training games in Port St. Lucie, cuz it sounds like home. Oh yeah, a female race car driver from Spain is named Portia.
Off the beaten track: A veterinary proctologist named Ina Aso. A microscope called Horizon.
The FDA’s food and safety administrator is Margaret Hamburg. The lawyer for the Orchids of Asia massage parlor that ensnared Robert Kraft: Kathleen Phang. Bruce Barker is a dog breeder, naturally.
James Yurman is a butler in Sussex, England. My friend Aude Tarr, is a theater technician but should be a tax examiner, right? And unbelievably, Tad Milder is a real weatherman in Florida.
Ron Swearagen is an Arkansas bailiff.
Top Chinese official Liu He originally thought the Kingsmen’s 1960s hit song was about him.
Appropriately named Hoosick Falls, N.Y., after the drinking water tested toxic from their Teflon plant.
And who ever had a more fitting name than swindler Bernie Madoff? Or Queens preacher Ray Vaughn? NBC Reporter Steve Liesman; novelist Paige Turner; speech therapist Ann Sagan, or a cabdriver whose taxi ID card simply read Rick Shaw? I read about a failed motor boat repairman named Ed Roebach as well as radio talk show host Jim Collins. It turns out Boston sports radio’s Mike Adams goes to a dentist named Steven Spitz. Go figure. And oh, did I mention I go to an accountant named Ira?
Doug Letter is the chief lawyer for the House of Representatives. In D.C., they know the law of the letter. Read about Sara Tonen, a sleep specialist in Hollywood. Also in California, a plumber named Sal de Bain. A moving company Hyle, Hilter. And Union County, N.C., County Commissioner Stony Rushing, because I just like that name.
Last: shoulda, woulda, coulda: Harvard Extension summer session business course Negotiation and Organizational Conflict Resolution is no longer accepting students; it was cancelled.
Sheesh. Keep on name-gaming, everyone . . .
Gloucester resident Gordon Baird is an actor and musician, co-founder of Musician magazine and producer of “The Chicken Shack” community access TV show.