Last month, grandson Scott and wife Michelle picked a pretty name for their baby girl -- “Jade” -- but took a little longer to decide on a middle name. I had a few suggestions but kept quiet. After all, it’s the parents’ business to choose their children’s names.
Besides, they had done a good job in naming my great-grandson “Evan Trey” -- not even aware that my paternal grandfather’s middle name was Evan. By his choice, Newton Evan Jones answered to his middle name, and eventually it morphed into the nickname “Van.”
For Jade’s middle name, Scott and Michelle recently settled on “Danielle,” and I’m delighted by their choice.
Nearly all my life I’ve been drawn to middle names, likely because I liked my own -- “Lorraine.” I preferred to be called that, even named my favorite doll Lorraine. I was devastated when our young puppy named Baby (sorry, no middle name) chewed up the doll’s blonde hair. Until a family friend made her a wig, Lorraine was gosh-awful bald – but still my favorite doll.
A doll, however, was not the main reason I should have signed off as Lorraine. There happened to be another Wanda Jones on my street, one year ahead of me in school, and we two were always getting mixed up.
The predominance of middle names was nothing new in my family. For example, when Aunt Rachel began her nursing career, she opted for her middle name “Katherine.”
A surprisingly large number of my high school classmates went by their middle names, including the boy elected Mr. Robert E. Lee his senior year, Thomas Lanny Henninger.
Among others with middle-name signatures: Mona Ferel Skidmore, Mary Sue Parker Johnson, Thomas Jerry Torkelson, James Darrell Stroud, Opal Joy Walker Turner, George Eugene Vaughn, Jerry Keith Ulch, Cecil Ray Woods, Billie June Wilson Roeder, Dr. Robert Louis Carter, Catherine Janell Carroll Brink, Victor Eddie Buchanek, Etta Jane Bonds, Helen Sandra Montgomery Clay, Raymond Eugene Fayle …
And that’s not all. Looking at the class directory, I found others in the middle-name crowd in the REL class of ’52, and I bet the same ratio applies to other classes as well.
Curious, I looked up names of celebrities best known by their middle names. Among them: Henry Warren Beatty, Troyal Garth Brooks, Hannah Dakota Fanning, John Will Ferrell, William Brad Pitt, Christopher Ashton Kutcher and Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon. (Reese was her mother’s maiden name, so quit thinking about chocolate/peanut butter candy.)
Wanda Orton is a retired managing editor of The Sun. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, Attention: Wanda Orton.