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A Rose by Any Other Name Would be a Skunk Cabbage

Wednesday, August 6, 2008 @1:24:12 PM

We were talking about unfortunate names on one of the forums.  My was not so unfortunate as it was suggestive.  My last name is King. When the teacher called roll, she'd say, "King Thomas."

Then at recess the bullies would line up to show me who was really the "King".

Power of suggestion

I had thick glasses and was awkward and made good grades. Mom couldn't buy me new glasses but about once every year or two so most of the time I ran around with tape on the bridge of my glasses from crashing face first into something. I was the prototypical nerd. In first grade there were two Tommy's in the class, so at registration my Mom volunteered to have me called Thomas - effectually signing me up as official class nerd!

I went to school with kids who were, as Bill Cosby once put it, "Killers or priests". About half the males in the class ahead of me (we had two classes to a room) did time in prison. Most of the rest were just never caught. One of my favorites went on to star in "A Ride on the Electric Chair" at Angola State Prison in Louisiana for a one man triple homicide.

I didn't have blue tattoos, I had decorative bruises. I developed an incredible threshhold for pain. Most of the time I came home from school looking like one of those guys at the end of Platoon walking out of the jungle dragging their dead.


My life was just a whole lot of fun after that. Those were the days when the teachers sent the kids out to the playground alone and put their heads down on their desks for a little restorative crying jag.

Our phys ed teacher sent us out alone for up to 45 minutes - all the boys in grades 7-10 for a game of flag football or as it was known in my school "Smack the Cop's Kid Around".

Oddly enough, I loved learning things so much that despite the thuggery, I actually wanted to go to school.

Go figure.

My Dad had one of the worst adapted middle names I've ever heard.  He got my grandpa's middle name for a first name - Adolph bless his heart.  My grandmother not to be left out gave him what she supposed was a femininized version of her middle name.  Wilmeth became Wilmot!

So Dad ran around school in the 30's and 40's with the unfortunate name of Adolph Wilmot King - or as he was known at roll call King Adolph.  How would you like to go through school during WWII with that for a first name?  Probably explains Dad's history of assault and battery - the whole boy named Sue thing.  A teacher once insulted his sister in front of the class.  Dad stood up and punched his lights out; sent all 350 pounds of the man to the floor in a heap!

That was the end of Dad's educational experience - 8th grade; who needs more?

He nicknamed himself "Sonny" and that's how he was known by everyone with any good sense right up till the day my step-mom shot him.  I don't think it had anything to do with his name, but rather that he finally had enough life insurance that she decided it was worth the risk to take a shot!

"Be careful what you name your kid" may be the moral to this story.

I'm sorry, I probably shouldn't have told that story.  My family history is so full of grim junk like that that it shocks people to hear us talk about it.  I'm doing geneology, researching my family tree, but I try not to shake the tree too hard.  Horse thieves and preachers keep falling out.

There's my cousin Alonso who once waited till my preacher great grandpa, Horatio French climbed up in the haypile and began to pray fervently.  When he got to the part about saving us all from hell fire, Alonso lit fire to the haypile.

What he didn't count on is that being named Horatio as a kid, Elder French had a hard right hand and with a razor strap for an extension, he taught Alonso a very valuable lesson about fire safety 'round behind the old woodshed.

Some time I'll tell you about the fishing with TNT episode and the hunting dog (a retriever) that made it a really interesting story. 5 comments

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