Mother’s Day, Naming Rites and the Origin of Kurt

Topeka Daily Capital
May 10, 1959

Today is Mother’s Day, and the only thing to do is take a firm stand in favor of it. After all …

Mothers are nice and necessary, and not in that order, but they aren’t perfect. Granted, they probably try to be, particularly where their children are concerned, but it is in that area that they often are at their worst. Some mothers do to some children a thing that shouldn’t be done to a mangy dog.

I refer specifically to naming children, for which mothers are mostly responsible. Once in a while, I am told, the father has his way about naming the baby, but it is a rare occasion when the matter is handled with this efficiency and harmony.

Most mothers snarl and say, “if you want to name a baby dash have one!” Then they named their newborn without even considering Uncle Moneybags, who might have been properly impressed and looked upon the namesake as a possible heir.

Personally, I’m a 0 for 4 in naming my own, although I had a little say a little to say about #2.

He was born in 1953 the day before the Oklahoma football team came to town to spend the night before playing Kansas State and there, incidentally, is quite a sentence for you. Parse that in your spare time.

Anyway, at the OU you practice that afternoon I told them about the new baby. That night at the hospital, a huge bouquet arrived for the baby, from Bud Wilkinson and the OU football squad. Right behind it came an even bigger bouquet for the baby’s mother, again with the same card.

Their mother was pretty happy about it, and I suggested that perhaps we should consider the flowers in naming the boy. Even in her condition she sat upright quickly and declared: “We’re not naming our baby Bud Wilkinson.”

We settled for Kurt, and it may not be mere coincidence that the OU all America of that year had the same name. Besides, I figured there’d be other chances. The next two were girls…

Mothers have hung some awful handles on children. You don’t hear them when the child is grown, because by then he or she is known as Butch or Sis or something.

The worst I ever heard came from a lady who once delivered eggs and butter and fresh vegetables to our door. She had a baby girl, and my mother asked her what the name would be.

“Haled,” said the lady, pronouncing it like salad.
“How’s that?” my mother asked.
“Haled,” she repeated, and spelled it.
“It’s an unusual name,” said by mother.
“It’s from the Lord’s prayer,” said the lady. “You know – ‘Haled be thy name…’”

Ada Montgomery once knew a maid named Lassitude and told me about one family who named a boy Venus and got a real shock when they saw the statue for the first time …

She also told of a girl named Verily, pronounced like Vanily, which is what Oklahomans call a kind of ice cream. This girls name was explained thus by her mother: “The name is from the Bible – ‘Verily, verily I say unto you…’”

Sports have given us some mystifying first names, given originally to athletes by their mothers. Such as Marshall Foch Robnett, Zygmont Czarobski, Roosevelt Brown and Roosevelt Greer. Locally in sports we have Horace Byron Lee, Jules Verne Sykes, Tusten Ackerman, Ferdinand Pralle and Otto Olle Schnellbacher.

I really don’t mean to be critical of mothers. As a matter of fact, I never was prouder of my mother when then I was when she visited last week and I asked her how she voted on repeal in Oklahoma.

“Wet,” said this lady who has been a practicing dry for more than 70 years.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because,” she said with a significant look at my dad, “I felt that if the stuff become became legal some men would no longer find it necessary to hide it in the garage.”

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