Do you remember this list from the Census Bureau?  It tracks the most popular baby names in each state.  The last year I found available shows dominance by the letter O.  Oliver for boys and Olivia for girls.  I come from a generation where a lot of kids were named after biblical characters or saints.  The latter is true in my family.  We had Cynthia, William, and Matthew.  I had uncles named John, Paul, and Louis.  Aunts named Ruth and Mary.  My mother was called Mabel.

Then by the 1970s, there was a period of children with names like Heather and Joshua.  Josh for short.

William still does well in Idaho.  It’s in the top five for boys.  I think it’s cool to see Harper making it near the top of the list for girls.

What we name our kids often seems to be cyclical.  We also have periods where the young ones are named after famous or heroic figures.  I had an old friend at work named Roosevelt.  His nickname was Rick.  Like a lot of young black men from the south, he was named in honor of Franklin Roosevelt, a man greatly respected by people of color during the Great Depression and World War Two.

I didn’t get a say in my name.  I’m William, Jr.  My family called me by a nickname and I wasn’t called Bill until I went to school.  I was better known by the nickname in my hometown and never really adjusted to hearing Bill until I went away to college.  At least I wasn’t named by the late Frank Zappa!

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