Best of Peggy, "Where Did Mary Go?"

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Peggy is taking this week off, so we share one of her "Best of Peggy" columns from March of 2012.

While visiting my daughter's third grade classroom last week, I was introduced to her students.

I noticed there were no Billy's or Bobby's or Mary's or Peggy's or Judy's or Betty's.

None of those classic names of old.

Also, I visited Ms. Julie's classroom across the hall. None of her students had those classic names either.

No, the classics have been replaced with monikers like Gabriel, Hunter, Mercede, Maleka, Sebastian, Dominique, Skyler, Eli and Tristan. Several of the elementary students are named Tristan. My daughter says she noticed a movie trend after Brad Pitt starred in "Legends of the Fall."

"There are lots of Bible names for boys, too," my daughter said.

In fact, the names Noah and Jacob top the list of favorites in 2012. Other favorites are Benjamin, Joshua, Elijah, Matthew and Andrew.

In the first half of the 20th century the all-time favorite girl's name was Mary. More than three million girls were named Mary in the last 100 years, but its popularity has now declined.

No, there wasn't a single Mary in the two classrooms I recently visited.

Topping the list of favorites for girls for this year are Olivia, Sophia, Isabella, Ava, Chloe, Lily, Mia, Ella, Madison, Abigail, Emily, Avery, Charlotte, Amelia, Hannah and Harper.

Aiden is a popular boy's name, also Logan, Jayden, Matthew, Ryan. The names Michael and William have endured.

In the 1930s, there were a large number of girls named Shirley, thanks to the popularity of child actress Shirley Temple. And large numbers of girls were named Jacqueline or Jackie in the 1960s after the First Lady.

Many babies are given fad names taken from celebrities that are popular at the time. But fad names often lose their popularity quickly and top the most common lists for a year or two, then fade back to normal.

I've read that Hollywood stars are returning to normal names after years of choosing strange names for their babies. Some of those quirkier names are Apple or River or Tu Morrow or Pilot Inspektor and Tabooger and Willow Sage.

Many traditional first names have special meanings. My name means a pearl. Ronnie means King and Nancy means gracious.

On Thursday the television show American Idol announced its top 13 contestants who will vie for the Idol title in coming weeks.

Among the boys there was Colton, Jermaine, Jeremy, DeAndre, Phillip and Joshua and Heejun. There were no Davids or Johns or James or Donnies or Steves.

Girls picked as Idol contestants were Hollie, Erika, Elise, Skylar, Jessica and Shannon.

No Bettys or Sues or Carolyns or Marilyns. No Shirleys or Maries or Rubys or Marthas or Margarets.

Those latter names were among my high school classmates, many long years ago. One of my best friends was named Betty Sue.

Are those old fashioned names doomed to oblivion? Or will they make a comeback just as fashions do from time to time?

Familial names are often passed down; the most noticeable example is passing a name on from father to son and adding "Jr." to the name.

It's also not uncommon for names to be passed down from mother to daughter, either. In my case, my mother's first name was passed down as my middle name.

Many times the family will use the name of a grandparent or parent as a child's middle name. Also naming a child after a family member is common, when the namesake has died, as a tribute. This also helps in preserving the family history.

Perhaps choosing a name for a newborn should be carefully considered.

After all, it will last a lifetime.

Mary has a nice ring to it, don't you think?