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The names should be changed to protect the innocent

The Social Security Administration recently announced the most popular baby names for 2012. Michael and Sophia topped the New York State list, although shorter names appear to be the wave of the future.

The top five boys’ names for 2012 in New York were, in order, Michael, Jacob, Jayden, Ethan and Mason. Tops in popularity for girls were Sophia, Isabella, Emma, Olivia and Ava.

Nationwide, Jacob and Sophia are repeat champions as America’s most popular baby names for 2012.

This is the 14th consecutive year that Jacob tops the list for boys and the second year for Sophia. There are two new names in the national top 10 this year as Elizabeth and Liam replaced Chloe and Daniel. This is the first time Liam broke into the top 10.

SSA staffers speculate that Liam’s newfound success can be attributed to Liam Neeson’s recent major roles in the films “Taken” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.” Many pop-culture naming trends appear in a popular feature of Social Security’s baby names website -- the “change in popularity” page.

This year’s winners for biggest jump in popularity in the top 500 are Major and Arya.

Where has all the creativity gone when selecting a child’s name? While I grimace at bizarre spelling for traditional names, there’s something to be said about names from the good old days.

Dora Wetzel, wife of Eusebius Wetzel, lived in Williamsville during the mid 19th century. Those are two good ones. We can only presume that Mr. Wetzel was named in honor of the original Eusebius, who was a Roman historian and scholar. He became the bishop of Caesarea in Palestine about the year 314.

Dora, of course, was a world-class explorer.

Back in the 1930s, there was a Clarence resident whose name was Lincoln Beard. That’s classic. And while no one could have foreseen the future, the match of two other Clarence residents was made in heaven.

“The death of Elmer D. Stairs, a resident of Clarence Center for nine years, occurred on Monday, March 14, 1938. His marriage to Grace P. Wood was solemnized May 1, 1912.”

Would the headline for their wedding announcement have read, “Wood-Stairs”?

I hope so.

Sometimes your given name leads you down the path to your career as an adult. Such was the case for the Rev. Wallace Easter, who practiced his faith in Clarence about 50 years ago.

The manager of a Williamsville movie theater, Menno Dykstra, had a name that deserved to be up in lights.

The combination of first and last names is carefully weighed by expectant parents. Rhymes should be avoided, but apparently no one gave that advice to the mom and dad of Lucy Gilhooly.

Who could forget someone with the ornamental name of Schuyler Bigelow? It sounds like the name of a character in “The Great Gatsby.”

The Social Security Administration’s announcement came out just days after I was reading numerous profiles of individuals seeking election to local boards of education. One local candidate pointed out that her husband is a part-time hockey coach and went on to brag about their three sons: London, Maxim and Vanek.

Geography played an important role in another set of parents’ decision when their suburban Buffalo son was born about 18 years ago. He was named Boston. Only they know if their inspiration was a Massachusetts city, a New York State town or a rock group.

My first name was the second most popular for boys in the year 1955. I have been told this was because of the popularity of the Davy Crockett television series. Fess Parker, the homespun actor who portrayed Crockett, had a colorful name of his own.

The name David slipped to No. 15 last year in the Empire State. It was No. 26 last year in Tennessee, where Crockett spent his youth. However, the name Fess does not appear in the top 1,000 names for any year in the last century. What a relief.


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