Names you don’t hear anymore

On Tuesday night, at age 91, my aunt* Mardell died. I have never met another person with the name of Mardell. I’ve been a bit sad and nostalgic the last few days.

There are a lot of other names from my childhood I which I have never, or extremely rarely, hear anymore. I probably will only rarely again hear them associated with any living person. For some reason they are almost all on my dad’s side of the family.

All children of my great grandfather:

  • Ada
  • Alden
  • Ardis
  • Helena
  • Pet**
  • Sadie***

Others of the same generation:

  • Cecil
  • Claude
  • Charlotte (my maternal grandmother)
  • Elsa
  • Ida
  • Lorne
  • Ollie
  • Orla
  • Oscar
  • Lillian
  • Van (my maternal grandmother’s husband for a while)
  • Verna (my maternal grandmother’s middle name)

My dad, his cousins, friends, and neighbors:

  • Ally
  • Clinton (as a first name)
  • Doyle
  • Donzal
  • Drexel
  • Edna
  • Ernestine
  • Gladys
  • Gwen
  • Harriet
  • Lowell
  • Manual
  • Mardell
  • Ned
  • Skyler

Friends of mine growing up:

  • Lethco (only person on this list who is still alive)
  • Verl

* Technically, she was not my aunt. However, my father’s mother was a sister to aunty Dell’s mother AND my father’s father was a brother to her father. Also, for several years, both families lived in the same household. Dad was an only child but he had three double cousins he grew up with. My brothers and I called these siblings of his uncles and aunt.

** Although this was just nickname for Patricia, I don’t know that I knew her
real name was Patricia until years after she had passed away.

*** I know someone who named their dog Sadie. But I don’t know any living humans with that name.


13 thoughts on “Names you don’t hear anymore

  1. It’s more likely to be José, Robertó, Mohammed, Fatima, Raj, or Chang around here these days.

  2. Yeah…..well a century ago you’d be hard pressed to find anyone named ‘Shaniqua” either. Naming conventions change. Sometimes for the better, other times for the worse.

  3. I went to high school with a Mardell. Her nickname was Mardy, which sounds like Marty, which is a nickname for Martina, which is a more common name.

    So it’s possible that you have known other Mardells without knowing it.

  4. The Swiss used to have a book of approved names for children. Probably gone by the way now but it was current when my kids were born in the 80s.

  5. One grandmother was named Bessie Lee, the other named Josefine, or as my grandfather called her, Feenie.
    When I was younger, Japanese Nisei and Sansei tended to have a more old-fashioned name than Anglos. I knew an Esther in high school, and an Irene. They tended to have a Japanese middle name, which I thought was a good tradition.

  6. Like Dan said, naming conventions change. But one thing I’ve learned is you should never let a pregnant woman name her children. I offer he 70’s love children. Trinity and the like. (but look up Mostly Cajun, All American and opinioned’s, Sunday name game. He lives across the river from New Orleans.) Totally funny!
    As Richard mentioned, it appears the Swiss took a practical approach to that problem by making women chose from an approved book!
    We still love you Wendy!

  7. I’ve known a Doyle and a Verna. Currently know a Charlotte, Claude, and Skyler. Also a Trevor and a Noel.

  8. Even parents who choose “normal” names these days often use non-standard spelling so their kids can grow up feeling “special”.

    What they are doing is condemning their kids to a lifetime of having their names misspelled or mispronounced and having to correct it constantly.

    Hmm…names you don’t hear much any more:
    My dad’s middle name was Elmer. My mom is Marna.
    Grandma on dad’s side was Ethel who had a brother with one of the names you mentioned: Great Uncle Cecil who, coincidentally, was married to Ally (pronounced “alley”). They also had a brother-in-law named Virgil.
    Grandma on mom’s side was Mildred.
    Uncle Norman (I wonder if the release of “psycho” had anything to do with that one’s reduced popularity?)
    Uncle Lanny
    Uncle Wade, his wife Dorothy
    Uncle Arby, his wife Iris

    All good names, not much used any more.

    That’s all I can think if right off the top of my head…except, in the mid to late 1800’s, we had a pair of brothers in our family line named Whet and Flint.

    My understanding is that, while not common, those names weren’t unheard of back then, what made them interesting was that our family name is Stone.

    Someone had a sense of humor back then.

  9. My paternal grandmother (born in Sweden) was named Leena (short for Anna Selina). One of my dad’s cousins was Odin. My maternal grandparents were Irl and Luella. Irl’s sister was Ina. Luella’s sister was Wilmina (Billie). My mom is Wilmina (Mina) and My daughter is Wilmina (Billie).

  10. A few semi-famous living people with these names:
    Doyle Brunson, poker player(retired)
    Doyle Lawson, bluegrass musician(retired)
    Ned Luberecki, Sirius XM radio host and banjo player

  11. Pingback: Aunty Dell | The View From North Central Idaho

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