David Bruce: The Funniest People in Neighborhoods — Music, Names


Barbara Mandrell is a country singer with a long list of hits. She is also a Christian who sang to her young son Nathan three special songs: “Jesus Loves Me,” “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” and “This is the Day the Lord Has Made.” She always wondered which of those songs young Nathan would sing first on his own, but the first song he actually sang on his own turned out to be, “All My Exes live in Texas.”

When Walter Damrosch was a child, his father, Leopold, conducted Schubert’s Der häusliche Krieg. Leopold thought it would be extravagant to hire a professional musician for a single cymbal crash, so he enlisted young Walter to do the honors. Unfortunately, at the performance, young Walter got stage fright, and when the time for the cymbal crash came, he froze and was unable to move his hands.


Ohio University student Molly Gedeon had two names when she was growing up: Molly and Monica. When she was born, her parents tried to decide together on a name, but a mix-up occurred. Her mother thought that they had decided on the name Monica, but her father thought that they had decided on the name Molly. Therefore, although her birth certificate stated that her name was Monica, her father always called her Molly, which led to a little confusion at the schools she attended. When she was 18 years old, Monica legally had her name changed to Molly. That should solve the problem, right? Wrong! Her father immediately started calling her Monica! (The Gedeons are original. When Molly was a little girl, she was a member of a swim team, but she was one of the worst swimmers on the team. At one meet her family showed up wearing paper bags over their heads and carrying signs that said, “We’re not with Gedeon!” Of course, when Molly saw them, she laughed so hard that she didn’t hear when the race started and swam even more poorly than usual.)

 When ballerina Chan Hon Goh was born, her mother was in a hospital and her father was performing as a dancer in a theater in Beijing. When he heard that his wife was giving birth, he rode his bicycle to the hospital, noticing as he rode a red full moon rising in the sky. He named her after the rising red moon — Hon means “red” and Chan means “To rise.” When she was four years old, her mother taught her enough calligraphy to be able to write her nickname (Da Hong or “Big Red”), which she proceeded to do on the wall by the door of their apartment building. This horrified her parents because in communist China no one wanted to stand out in any way — it was much safer to blend in and be like everybody else. They covered up her nickname as quickly as they could.

The Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson has an unusual first name for a male. When he was born, he was paralyzed, and the attending physician thought that he would die within a few hours or days. The physician informed the parents, then said that he would need a name for the birth and the death certificates. V. Gene’s parents had already picked out a name for a girl — Vicky Jean — and thinking that it wouldn’t matter on a tombstone, they simply changed the name slightly to Vicky Gene. Of course, V. Gene got over his paralysis and grew up. Today, when he uses his credit card, he will often hear, “I’m sorry, sir. You can’t use your wife’s credit card.”

Children’s book author Tomie dePaola has an oddly spelled first name. At first, it was spelled the normal way, but little Tommy was a talented child who was sure to grow up to be famous, so a famous cousin of his mother — Irish tenor Morton Downey — gave him the new, unusual spelling. According to Mr. Downey, “He’s got to have an unusual spelling for his first name so people will remember it.” Everyone respected the new spelling for his name, except for his teachers at school, who made him spell it “Tommy,” because that was the “correct” spelling.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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