The Name Game

I was born in the early 1950s, a time when lots of parents picked a single letter of the alphabet and then gave all their children names that started with that letter. This seems an especially appropriate topic for Miss Jenny’s Alphabe-Thursday post-along, this week for the letter “W.”

You see, I’m Wanda, and my name is one of relatively few names that start with that letter. My father’s name was William and that, I suppose, was why my parents decided their children’s names should start with with the letter “W.” Accordingly, my older brother is William and my younger sister is Wynne. Somewhere along the way, however, Mom and Dad had a change of heart—probably a good thing!—and named their next seven children whatever they wanted, regardless of the first letter of the name.

Coming up with seven more nice “W” names would have been a significant enough challenge, but Mom and Dad had two other obstacles to overcome as well, both personified by the pastor of the Catholic church they attended. The first was that either the given (first) or middle name of the child had to be a saint’s name. The second challenge was even more formidable—this priest’s native language was German, and he regularly baptized children with Germanic variations or pronunciations of what the parents had named their child. According to my mother, there were times when the baptismal names were almost unrecognizable compared to the parents’ version of the name. Case in point: Wynne Ellen is what my parents named my younger sister, but she was baptized “Winifrida Helena,” which is obviously very different from my parents’ version!

I don’t know the stories of the names of all my siblings, but I will mention two of them. One of my brothers was named after a character in the book Dad was reading when he was born—Mom and Dad hadn’t picked out a boy’s name because after four girls in a row they were convinced this new baby would be a girl as well. The second story is about the name Ryan—Mom was determined to name her last child Ryan regardless of the baby’s gender. If it was a boy, he would be named Ryan Patrick, and if it was a girl, she would be called Ryan Patrice.

So, tell me…did your parents use the same letter to name you and your siblings, or did they perhaps use some other theme? I look forward to reading your comments (and thanks in advance for leaving one)!

15 thoughts on “The Name Game

  1. I always enjoy reading about names. My Mom wanted to name all of us girls with “J” names. First there was Judy, then Jenny. Then she lost interest and there was a Becky and a Liz!

    This was a neat post! I enjoyed stopping here today.


  2. I am the oldest of four and we always get asked if our names are meant to match. There’s Keri, Ivy, Ivan, and Kasee. My mom was going for “nobody else will have this name” or at least the spelling. LOL And she swears that she didn’t plan for them to be pairs!

  3. Loved this post! It’s fun to think about where we got our names. My older sister is named after my mother and my younger brother is named after my father. Me, the middle child, has a name all her own!!

  4. We four have first names which my parents happened to like, but our middle names are ‘family ones’….though my sister and I both have surnames for middle names(?) while my two brothers have my dad’s Christian name-one John and one Ian (dad’s name is John, but has always been known as the Scottish version-Ian)
    Alison xx

  5. I always think that having multiple children with the same initial must cause problems with letters through the post. Just imagine it…

    “We have a letter! It’s for T Smith. I wonder whether it’s for Terri, Tyler or Thomas. Who wants to open it to find out?”


    My mum just chose a name she liked and avoided calingl me after either grandmother (tho I wouldn’t have minded either Beatrice or Kate as a middle name).

  6. My cousins’ names all started with “J”….Joe, Julie, Jim, Jean, John and their father Joe. My aunt’s name was Marion and the pets’ names started with “M”… Midnight the dog and Mike the bird.
    I was named after my Nana, Her name was Prudence Elizabeth. Thank goodness there was not a saint Prudence!

  7. Loved reading some of your family history Wanda! My mother named me Ellen because she was tired of her Russian friends using the same Russian names she named my siblings to name their children. She figured Ellen wouldn’t be copied and she was right. I have a sister Kathy and several cousins named Kathy and a sister Vera with several cousins named Vera. I have 7 siblings and it sounds like you have more…

  8. Hi Wanda
    My parents named me and my siblings after our grandparents. My maternal grandmother was Ukrainian and was named Paraska, but called Pearl. My Mom wanted to name me Pearl but my dad thought Patricia was a nicer name and he won! I thanked him for that many times 🙂

  9. No – we all got family names, adding to the confusion in a family that already had a truck load of Alexanders, Isabels and Hughs. I got the winner of all time – the grandmother-name passed on to the oldest girl, and I passed it on to my daughter, albeit as a second name (I loved her too much to burden her with it as a first!) In our Catholic family, all the girls had Mary or Marie as a second name.

  10. What a lovely post! I really enjoyed reading this one Wanda. My brother and sister and I all have Welsh names because my Dad was Welsh. My name is pronounced “Shan” and it is Welsh for Jane

  11. I am one of 12 children, a preacher’s kid. Some of the names of my siblings were Biblical, although most were not – I was one that got a Biblical name. I didn’t like my name while I was young, but now am fine with it! Esther Joy

  12. Nah, but my parents named us what they wanted us to be called. Patti instead of being named Patricia and everyone calling my sister Patti and so on. I don’t like my name so I go by my nickname. My neighbor has all “M” names in their family , even her dogs. It’s confusing.~Ames

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