Southerners have long been noted for their use of double first names. Do you love em, hate em? Do you hyphenate them? Names are identification which follow us through school, the military and, of course, through our entire lives. It has occurred to me that many of my friends who have attended Harlan City School share the custom of being called by a double first name. Here are a few which come to mind: William Omar Pollitte, Howard Daniel Pope, Billy Ray Forester, Charles Marvin Cole, William Howard Jones, Bert Ed Pollite and Bill Gene Cudd. It was also popular for girls to have double names. Eva Sue Blanton, Betty Ann Blair, Mary Lou Lewis, Dana Lee Ball, Ann Riley and Mary Janet Cochran, Dorothy Jean Walker, Amme Keyes Whitfield, Mary Dell Wilson, Mary Esther “Datter” Nolan, Frances Ann Gregory and Mary Jane Scott, come to mind. Many of these former HHS graduates have been a credit to their school, community and family. They have excelled in numerous professions such as law, medicine, education and the military. Several were also fine music and speech students.
The old custom of calling youngsters by a double first name seems to have gone out of style. Today we very seldom hear such double names as Willie May, Harry Warren, Jim Bob, Betty Lou, Sally Ruth, Ida Mae, Donna Gail and Thelma Lou. For instance, a very popular name today having several different spellings, is the name Katlyn. I pity the teacher who has the responsibility of remembering all these modern names which have in recent years come down the pike. Gone are the days of Ann, Sue, Robert, Bill and Betty.
It is my personal opinion that parents should be careful when selecting a name for their offspring. A name follows one throughout his lifetime and it can, in many cases, cause difficulties. For instance, my friend Sonny Gergely was known by that name all through school. However when he became an adult, many of his associations regarding business and banking required his real full name which was Irvin Ignatz Gergely. It seems to me simple names with simple spellings make life easier for children as they mature and meet the challenges of our modern world.