What’s in a name?

Fashions in names change over time, but seem to be on a cycle so ‘old-fashioned’ becomes the new ‘in’ – look at the Royal Family’s newest addition: Princess Charlotte, a name some might think passe. And you must admit Stanley, Sylvester and Alexander are all outmoded; well, SSAW was born in 1888 which might explain it.

Eighty years ago my sister was named Mary Ann and in answer to the question “Why?” our parents wrote in the babybook, “Because she is a girl.” Sister Su started out as Susan, then Susie, now simply Su (though I sometimes call her Sooze). I am Barbara Ellen, which my father insisted is the real name of the folk song known as Barbara Allen. And don’t ask me about the crazy nicknames we have had (though I do hope the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge will call their daughter Charlie or Lottie at home).

S. S. A. W.’s grandfather was Alexander Watkins; his father, Sylvester Alexander, so it followed the next generation produced Stanley Sylvester Alexander Watkins. As a child I loved having to put my father’s full name on school forms – it always ran off the end of the printed line. However, when our little brother was born, the next Watkins male, he escaped the long winded name and became John Douglas Watkins. As our father said, “My son should be glad that he is not John Stanley Sylvester Alexander; one can have too much of a good thing.”

Many of the next generation of Watkins males, however, share those first names  – except Sylvester; I did hope there might be a girl who we could perhaps name Sylvia, but we four produced only boys and by the next generation the four girls were given other names.

It does make research a bit difficult, as S S A Watkins appears under several versions – Stanley, Stan, with the middle initials, or the full name. But he’s out there, and I’m gradually gathering more details of his life and work for the biography.

Now what to call that? Talking Pictures, a Sound Decision is only part of SSAW’s life and work. I’ll have to hold off until inspiration hits with an all-encompassing name.



2 thoughts on “What’s in a name?

  1. My father’s name was Elwood Charles Straumer, but I don’t think he ever went by the Elwood part. High school friends knew him as Steve. His film credits were always E Charles Straumer, and his friends and family all called him Charlie. His brother’s name was Stanley, which remained his name throughout his life.

    Liked by 1 person

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