May 17, 2003
Unfortunate Names

David Adesnik of Oxblog tells us of an Army general named Richard ("please call me 'Dick'!") Head. When he was in the Navy, my father once worked for a general named Strong Boozer. I wonder if they ever met? A Google search led me to a genealogical site that includes a Strong Boozer in a family tree, giving his dates as 1915-1975, and place of burial as Arlington National Cemetery. He must be the same guy. Odd that both were successful military men. Is there some kind of "Boy Named Sue" effect, where an embarrassing name leads to mental and physical toughness and a suitably tough career?

Then there's the northern Virginia gynecologist named Dr. Harry Beaver. A coworker told me about him twenty years ago, saying "his name is Harold, but all the girls call him Harry". I didn't believe her until I checked the yellow pages, where he was listed (as "Harry") under "Physicians - Obstetrics and Gynecology". That settled it. You can put any name you want in the white pages, but the yellow pages are different. Years ago, a revolving group of University of Chicago students who shared a house listed themselves as "Sam Spade" so they wouldn't have to change the name every year or two. But I'm sure it's illegal to list a fraudulent name and profession in the yellow pages. Dr. Beaver seems to have retired a few years back, since he's only a shadowy presence on the web. (I assume any doctor in a big city these days will have a web-page.)

One of my students at the University of Alabama in the mid-90's was a gynecologist's wife who had returned to school to finish her degree after her kids were grown. She confirmed that Harry Beaver was real and that she and her husband knew him, and claimed that there was another gynecologist in Ohio named Seymour Hyman. Google lists a Seymour Hyman as vice-chancellor of CUNY and (another?) as eponym of a charitable foundation, so there is at least one man with that name. Whether he's a gynecologist is still unclear.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at May 17, 2003 10:07 PM

I had an in-law whose name (I swear), before she passed on, was Ruby Ivory Pearl Deadman. Needless to say her given names were not initialed on her grave stone.

Posted by: Lawrence Haws on May 18, 2003 11:21 PM

I also know a Michael Hunt, which is okay so long as people don't call him Mike.

Posted by: John Thacker on May 19, 2003 12:50 AM

I know a guy named Doug Eater whose father's name is Richard. Inexplicably, Richard goes by "Dick."

Posted by: Dodd on May 19, 2003 10:22 PM

My pet peeve is people named like "Mark Markson". I shun their parents for having the unimaginative "West" Virginia virus.

Posted by: Trolly Polly Olly on May 19, 2003 11:57 PM

There used to be, so my parents claim, a dental practice in western Pennsylvania owned by the partners Dr. Payne and Dr. Toothman.

Posted by: Evan McElravy on May 20, 2003 12:51 AM

Also, and this actually made Leno when it happened, there was a marriage in my town between a middle school music teacher, Miss Butts, and a sports writer for the local rag, Mr. White (both quite lovely people, by the way): inevitable headline: "White-Butts Wed." Incidentally, the erstwhile Miss Butts evidently had a sister named Sandy.

Posted by: Evan McElravy on May 20, 2003 12:55 AM

I have a cousin named Harry Bitsch. I find it rather amusing although, apparently, it's doesn't mean anything funny in German. (Like the classic line from Pulp Fiction: "I'm American, honey. Our names don't mean shit.")

Posted by: James Joyner on May 20, 2003 11:57 AM

I once interviewed a candidate for a job. He was from China, was absolutely brilliant, incredibly qualified, but I couldn't hire him because his English was horrible and the job was in phone support. His name was Gang Bang.

Posted by: Jack Funchion on May 20, 2003 02:55 PM

Young Boozer III, an Alabama native, serves on the Stanford Board of Trustees. You'd think after two generations, the family would come up with a less suggestive first name.

I feel deeply for Asian-American girls whose last name is Ho, as well as the poor kids named Dung and Phuc trying to survive elementary school.

Posted by: Joanne Jacobs on May 20, 2003 05:35 PM

Back in my army days, my unit in Okinawa had both Major Major and his brother, Sergeant Major

Posted by: CPatterson on May 20, 2003 05:37 PM

In the course of my travels I have come in contact with a Judge Hanger, a Judge Robin and a dentist called Doctor Paine.

P.S. The contact with judges was in a support basis - not in a courtroom!

Posted by: bargarz on May 21, 2003 12:08 AM

My dentist in Alabama was named Joe Pullen.

My brother had a urologist that performed his vasectomy. Of course, his name was Dr. Blank.

I knew a girl in college named Karen Kill. Her brother, of course, was a doctor.

Posted by: David Perron on May 21, 2003 08:57 AM

I think it was from Jonah Goldberg in The Corner that I learned about this unfortunately named fellow.

Posted by: Lawrence on May 22, 2003 01:09 PM

Yearsago my aunt went on a blind date with a local doctor, introduced as Dr Dick. His Christian name was Everard...friends called him Ev

Posted by: Matthew May on May 23, 2003 10:25 AM

I used to keep a names file when I was a typesetter, filled with unusual or funny names. The one I can never forget was a name I found in Town & Country: Dinwiddie Lampton Jr.

The scary thing is that the name is being passed on.

Posted by: Meryl Yourish on May 24, 2003 12:25 PM

One of my late uncles was a dentist; his name was Doctor Pullar.
A few years ago I went to hand specialist: his name was Doctor Gropper (it was pronunced groper).

Posted by: terrence on May 25, 2003 01:17 AM

There's a Vietnamese girl I work with that has the unfortunate name Mai Ho. Worse yet, her full name is Mai Thi Ho.

Posted by: Larry on May 26, 2003 03:46 PM

I was working as an estate agent in Guilford, UK and one of our vendors was asian called Mr Fookeng Ho - I made sure I never had a viewing on that particular house and avoided Mr Ho at all times.

Posted by: Kate on May 27, 2003 10:29 AM

I am now working as an underwriter for a secured loans company and on my first day was shown a print out of the voters role for a particular property and there was a woman showing on it as Fanny word of a lie.

Posted by: Kate on May 27, 2003 10:34 AM

Theres a girl who lived in London called Viginia Caunt and works for a company in Kensington High Street London. She smells too. Her nick name is Vija.

Posted by: amanda kissandcuddle on May 27, 2003 10:52 AM

I am not sure of the "Boy Named Sue" syndrome, but I have often wondered about one of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence - the famous Button Gwinnet. Were his parents thinking "cute as a..."? I have heard that it was actually a family name, not a whim, but even so it seems a terrible name to bestow.

And my regards to Golden Fidler (yes, one D), whose name occasionally came across my desk when I was helping with payroll record at a retail store.

Posted by: John Anderson on May 27, 2003 03:45 PM

P.S., I have long maintained that any building with public access should have a john.

Posted by: John Anderson on May 27, 2003 03:47 PM

Here's a real urologist named, of course, Dr. Wiener.

Posted by: "Dorcas Hoar" (a real Puritan) on May 30, 2003 01:29 PM

I went to elementary school with a Leann Ann Anderson. And of course, anyone who has been in the Navy can tell you about someone they worked with whose last name fit awkwardly with "Seaman". One of the first ships I was on had a young sailor with the unfortunate last name of "Drinker".

Posted by: timekeeper on May 30, 2003 10:25 PM

One of my correspondents' names is Richard Manhard. But everyone calls him Dick.

Not making it up.

On the other hand, I maintain that he must have been VERY successful with the ladies once he got into college.

Posted by: Meryl Yourish on May 31, 2003 09:38 PM

At a recent elementary school function, I heard a little girl introduced whose first name was Areola.

Posted by: LeeAnn on June 3, 2003 09:34 PM

We named our daughter Jennifer. As a child, she liked to be known as Jenny, until one day... How could we have been so stupid?

Posted by: Don Taylor on August 25, 2003 04:46 PM

talk about real unfortunate names, I really exist and had to fight my way through life

Posted by: seymour p hyman on September 8, 2003 06:46 PM

My daughter joined the Air Force and there was a male Airman with her at basic training who's last name was Queer...and that was the correct spelling too!!

Posted by: Jan Coon on October 21, 2003 06:36 PM

Some friends at college were talking of unfortunate names and came up with a friend from school whos name was Richard Rash.

Posted by: Ali McDonald on October 23, 2003 03:12 PM

There is a doctor at the RVI in Newcastle, England called Doctor De'Ath. I think he put the apostrophe in on purpose, so as not to ruin his practice! My mum was a nurse there in the 70s and she told me ages ago that there was a guy called Doctor Doctor and another fella called Doctor Nurse!
There is also a Judge in London called Mr Justice Judge. In order to take this judicial post he had to serve his time as a circuit judge so he was called His Honour Judge Judge for a time.
My favourite though is the 1930s Mercedes F1 driver who was called Dick Seaman!!

Posted by: Tony on January 15, 2004 01:04 PM

We know of a girl named Iona Whore, and our local plumber is called Richard Head, and he is known as Dick. THere is also a man called Hugh Jarse who is a client of my dads. In my drama clss there is a gal called Ilona, but sounds like a loner, no jokes!

Posted by: liz n jess on February 24, 2004 12:31 PM

This poor woman's name is Chew Shit Fun.

Posted by: karl on June 15, 2004 10:20 PM

I took a class in college with a gal with the last name Dichlich (yes, it's pronounced how you're thinking).

Posted by: Johnson on July 9, 2004 07:02 PM

I went to school with a young man named Peter Schmuck. An unfortunate name, but a nice guy.

Posted by: doug on July 10, 2004 01:00 AM

I also used to know a woman named Jennifer Jerkovski. She is a lovely person with a terrible name.

Posted by: doug on July 10, 2004 01:07 AM

I've heard of a guy named Harry Zhaft and I have a great uncle who was named Harry Pennes. I also have heard of a lady with the sad initials I.M.Boner

Posted by: Vershmitnitky on July 10, 2004 01:11 AM

I tripped over this woman on the internet, Captain Debra Wimpy, head of a county sheriff's department.

Posted by: Dweeb on September 17, 2004 11:22 AM

I have an aunt living in the Orkney Islands called Violet Twatt. That name is common in that part of Scotland. There is a village called Twatt which is quite a tourist attraction. There are 2 regions to the village, lower Twatt and Upper Twatt. (If you think this is made up...check the map!)

Posted by: Stuart Dapples on October 12, 2004 10:40 AM

I went to High School with a girl named Anita Dick.

Posted by: Patrick on November 4, 2004 02:18 PM