Nicknames A Casualty of Political Correctness?
you ever stopped to wonder whatever happened to nicknames?
In my youth having a nickname was sort of a membership
badge, a sign of social acceptance, and those who lacked
one were even known to make up one of their own.
A woman of my acquaintance so disliked her own given name that she adopted “Stormy” as
her own. Having by chance learned the original, I could see why she dropped it.
In my own case, I reveled in the name “Beans,” which really had nothing
to do with me or my eating habits. It was hung on me by a high school classmate
who said I reminded him of a punch drunk old fighter he knew. Insulted? Of course
not. It made me feel that I belonged.
Most nicknames were bestowed on the basis of ethnicity, appearance or behavior,
and I suspect that’s the reason for their decline. We live in an era of
political correctness, and it would not be PC, as they say, to bestow a nickname
for any of those reasons.
For example, Sheriff Lou Blanas’ dad, Bill, was known among his intimates
as “Greek,” even though he was half-Irish. That would never do today.
And a vast number of young guys of Slavic ancestry were nicknamed “Doggie” because
of the canard that the animals barbecued for their ethnic festivals were not
young goats, as was claimed.
One of my classmates was possessed of a very red nose, and thus was given the
name “Beacon,” which certainly would be a no-no in these enlightened
times. Another, from a family in straitened financial circumstances, would go
around after parties and salvage the contents of all the ashtrays, recycling
them for future use. His nickname, right up until death overtook him in his 70s,
I knew a “Mort,” so called because he reminded someone of Mortimer
Snerd, Edgar Bergen’s ventriloquist dummy with the buckteeth. There was
a “Weasel,” given the name because, well, he was thought to look
like one. Another bore the cognomen of “Paintbrush,” not because
of any artistic endeavors but because he used so much Stay-Comb on his straight
hair that it stuck out in back like a dried paintbrush. No one would think of
doing it today, but there was no concern over a schoolmate with poor vision being
The nicknames have died, most of them, with those who bore them, and I suppose
we live in a kinder world in these nicknameless times, but I find it kind of
sad to think that something worthwhile has been lost along the way — the
ability to laugh at ourselves.
• • •
wanted department: Prez Joe Montoya of the San Francisco
Giants Booster Club of Sacramento, writes that “we are
desperate for new members,” which may be understandable
considering the way things are going for the team. But
Joe sends a reminder that the club runs buses virtually
right up to the
turnstile, and has tickets available for nine trips this
season. Joe welcomes calls at (916) 447-8482.
Bill Pettite of Fair Oaks, cemetery historian and boxing buff extraordinaire,
also writes historical works concerning the eastern Idaho region where he was
born. His fifth and latest volume, Bill advises, is “Memories of Market
Lake” and is now available. Those with an interest in the area can reach
Bill at (916) 967-4500.
The Towe Auto Museum on Front Street, with something to appeal to everyone, currently
is displaying the “Glass Slipper” dragster, and, through June 4,
a display of International Scouts.
• • •
I’ve gotten older, small repair jobs loom ever and ever
larger, and there’s always that urge to ignore them or
at least put them off. Now, however, I’ve been given
some information that may make such chores simpler.
A person needs, I’ve been told recently, only two tools:
WD-40 and duct tape.
“How’s that?” you ask. Simple. If it doesn’t move and
it should, use the WD-40. If it moves and it shouldn’t, use the duct
tape. That pretty much covers any problem that may arise, I should think.
• • •
from the Sacramento County Historical Society did a little digging into the 50
years ago files and found history, as it always does, repeating itself
Back then the city was rousting homeless and jobless drunks, and the operator
of Mom’s Mission — located about where Loaves and Fishes is today — was
protesting what she termed police harassment (which Chief James Hicks denied),
and that greatest of city managers, Bart Cavanaugh, noted progress in solving
the problem, praising Judge James McDonnell for getting tough on vagrants.
And today? Well the problem seems to still exist, with drugs in competition with
alcohol as the prime cause of homelessness. And, of course, vagrancy seems to
be treated simply as a condition nowadays rather than a punishable crime.
Just recently The Bee editorialized on a proposal to ban shopping carts on downtown
streets as a veiled attempt to keep out Wal-Mart and similar retailers.
While that could be a factor, I submit that shopping carts have become the
mobile homes of the transient population, and if you can ban them from the
streets, you’ll also get those who push them out of the way.
I won’t attempt to pass judgment on the rightness or wrongness of the issue,
but it’s obvious that sidewalks cluttered with the indigent homeless
and their pushcarts are not exactly conducive to business prosperity.
retiring from a long and respected career with The Sacramento
Bee, Stan Gilliam found that he just couldn't stop writing. So
his "Stan's Sacramento" column to the Spectrum, where
it has been a favorite of readers for 15 years ... and counting.
Focus 55-Plus Aging
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