WHAT’S IN A NAME?

March 28, 2021

There are so many serious things going on in the world right now that we worry about too much (kick me in the butt), most of which we can do nothing or little about. So, in today’s post, I thought we would have a little fun together talking about the title of this post.

For starters, the Bible says in Proverbs 22:1 that a great name is rather to be chosen than great riches. Obviously, that does not mean our given names, as none of us pick our own given names. The implication from the verse means we can do in life what gives us a good reputation, regardless of our given name.

Another thought: who judges whether a person has a good given name or a bad given name? I know people who love their given name and people who hate their given name.

When I was a youth I asked my dad one time where he got his first name? His first name was Lantis. I told him I had never heard that name before. He said, “I think Mama found it at the bottom of a barrel somewhere. I’ve never heard the name on another human either.” He said he always despised that name.

I think that’s why daddy was always known by his nickname, Monk. I asked Daddy’s brother, my Uncle Buddy, where Daddy got that nickname? He said that when Daddy was real young and they had work to do around the house or farm, that daddy worked so hard he just hopped around like a monkey. And the family gave him that nickname which stuck on him until his death.

When I was quite young, I never liked my name either. I asked my mother why she named me Spencer, as I did not know anyone else with that name? She said, “You are named after a very famous person, Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill. He was the Conservative Prime Minister of Great Britain one time, and you two have the same birthday, November 30th.”  That did make me feel better about my name. For some reason, I never had a nickname.

My late brother, David, had one of the most unheard-of nicknames. And it was given to him by ,of all people, our daddy. I never knew why or where daddy got that nickname, but he often called David, Unyock.

My sister, Lana, was given a nickname by our Uncle Doug Plumley. He has always called Lana, Toby. Where that came from, I never knew either. But not everyone calls her that.

I’ll get to my wife’s side of the family and some of her sibling’s nicknames shortly. Keep reading as I want you to respond to this post and tell me your nickname, or the nickname of someone you know.

Have you ever noticed that some people have nicknames due to something they did or did not do? Biblically, we all know what THE GOOD SHEPHERD did and who he was/is. And Jeremiah, why he was called The Weeping Prophet? An unusual name for us today would be Mephibosheth. But it may have been a popular name in the Old Testament period. We can read all about him in 2 Samuel 4:14 and beyond. He was the grandson of King Saul and the son of Jonathan, King David’s best friend. He lost both his grandfather and father in one battle. When his nurse heard of the death of his family, she began to flee for safety. In her rush, she stumbled and fell with young Mepibosheth and he was crippled for the rest of his life. He eventually ended up in Lo-debar, a town in Gilead that was known as a ghetto or slum town. Nobody wanted to live in Lo-debar. Even though King David eventually rescued him from that impoverished place and he spent the rest of his life in the palace eating with King David ,and became very rich himself, he was forever known as that man from Lo-debar. A place he once lived became what he was most known for.

Let us look now at more recent times. A popular singer, Jerry Lee Lewis, was known as the Killer. He said he never knew why or how he got that nickname. And then there was Elvis, always will be known as the King. George Jones, who Sandra and I saw in concert late in his career ,and less than a year from his death, was known as No-show Jones. Earlier in his career, he had a problem with drinking too much alcohol. If he was too drunk to make an appearance, or just didn’t feel like it, he would not show up. So that nickname stuck with him even though for the last many years of his life he quit alcohol and was always on time for his concerts. A former U.S. President, Andrew Jackson, became famous in the War of 1812 for being such a warrior who never gave up, that he became known as Old Hickory.

Some nicknames and names are the results of someone else’s doings. In 1969, one of the funniest songs in my lifetime was recorded by Johnny Cash. The title of the song was about A BOY NAMED SUE. Listening to the lyrics of the song, one learns why Sue’s daddy named him Sue. The song has a lot of truth in it, as told by the writer. He knew of a man named Sue.

A person’s name or nickname often has unintended consequences. Take the name or nickname of Bubba, for example. A famous comedian/humorist I once knew through my being a member of The National’s Speaker’s Association, was named Bubba. His name is T. Bubba Bechtol, who received a lucrative recording contract with MCA recording company, said that Bubba was more than a name. Bubba, he said, was a way of life. There’s an organization for people named Bubba.

There are many names that people would never want for themselves. Again, from the Bible, no woman today would ever want the name Jezebel. For that matter, no lady would want Delilah for a name, even though I had a friend named Delilah who was a great woman and a devout Christian.

Now to my wife’s family, the Curtises. Sandra grew up south of Spring Hill, Arkansas in southwest Arkansas. Her daddy, Dave, was famous for giving nicknames to all his children and most of his grandchildren. He and Ruby, his wife, had a passel of daughters, but just one son. They all had good common given names, but Dave wanted them to be special, so he gave them all nicknames. I bet you never heard of some of these nicknames. The son, Dave Jr. had the nickname of Goss. Then the daughters had nicknames of Rick for Ruby Doris; Gundy for Johnnie Faye; Pickles for Ruthie; and my beautiful wife Sandra,  had a nickname of Bid. In 55 and one-half years of marriage, I have never even once called her Bid.

Mine and Sandra’s boys got nicknames ,too, from Dave. Spencer Jr. was called the Gentleman from the City and John Paul was called Good Man Middlebrooks.

Somehow Sandra inherited her daddy’s ability to give out nicknames. I was made aware of this soon into our marriage. Someone gave Sandra a part poodle dog that already had a good name, but Sandra nicknamed that dog, Handle. Why, I never knew.

When Sandra and I first married, she was too young to work a public job. But a lady we knew asked Sandra if she would babysit her four young daughters? I think the daughters were three, four, five, and six years old. Sandra told the mother she would be happy to watch the girls.

The first thing Sandra did was to give all four of the girls a nickname. I don’t remember three of the girls’ nicknames, but I do remember the oldest girl’s nickname. The only reason I can remember that is because the little girl’s mother asked Sandra whether she gave the daughter that nickname. Sandra said, yes, she gave the daughter the nickname and wanted to know why she asked that question. The mother told Sandra that the daughter was confused and told her teacher and friends that that nickname was her name. The name Sandra gave to that poor little girl? Maduler. Don’t ask me why.

Back to names. Some sources say the seven most important names of history are Alexander, Napoleon, George, William, John, Noah, and Mary, (but my list would have Jesus first). All right, it’s time for you to tell your story. What is your nickname, or the nickname of someone you know?  Let me know and you may get credit in a future post!

God Bless,
Spencer and Sandra Plumley

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