Saturday, July 27, 2013

Barber, Meet Head -- What's In a Name?

I keep thinking of the list of names I had the other day in my post, "Iowa -- Land of Roadwork." I've been thinking it might be a good list to memorize. There's a lot of value in it, in my opinion. One, it simply has great aesthetics for a list of names. There's no discernible arrangement, alphabetically or by sound, no predictability. If you just concocted a list of names, though, and you had "Krebs," there's really a good chance you'd go for another "Kr" name, like "Krantz."

One other value to it, which is of more practical value and not just something of aesthetics and beauty, would be staving off dementia. I keep hearing that the more you exercise your brain, the better it works. Giving even me hope. At this point, I can't even remember how many names there were, let alone what they were. I definitely remember Barber and Head, obviously. Let's quote the list and see what happens:
Kellerman, Adams, Bardot, Lawhead, Rackley, Mahlor, Hargrave, Taylor, Kirby, Beveridge, Zalumas, Edwards, Vann, Smith, Maddox, Stewart, Robison, Gordy, Craig, Harden, Bass, French, Truitt, Barber, Watt, Jerger, Stribling, Herman, Grantham, Russell, McGiohon, Anderson, Aiken, Reese, Head, Vanderbilt, Hazelton, Feinberg, Myers, Tittle, Cheshire, and, lastly, Mays.
Adams and Bardot are alphabetical, but a truly random list easily has consecutive letters. I just made two counts and it comes out 42. I could probably memorize 42 names. Using one of the memory systems. If it means having my mind at 90 -- 30 short years from now -- it'd be worth it.

There's another value to the list, which is self-serving for my blog. People hitting these posts through Google searches while doing genealogy. Probably not the Smith or Adams or Anderson families. But the Stribling family? The Zalumas family? The Beveridges? The Lawheads, Granthams, and McGiohons? Some of these are like names from dead languages. And now I have two posts with their names in it. I'm going to get every McGiohon, Zalumas, and Stribling in the world, albeit there's probably about five of each. But that day in Iowa -- when I got the list -- there I was in a rest stop with them! I should've said, "Zalumas? Your name is Zalumas? Let me shake your hand before you pass on! McGiohon? What is that, Gaelic? From Brigadoon, appearing every hundred years?" Of course, I kid. Still! Have sex! Anything to get your numbers up!

For some of these names, the only place you'd run across them is Have you ever been to You probably have. If you search for any name plus "family," or just any obscure name, all roads lead to Except once you're there, it's a dead end. Because you need a paid subscription or a one-time free sample to find out anything, even about yourself. Which to me is still a dead end. I already know myself. And if I'm on there researching my family, that takes what? A week? Then what? Look up other families or sublet my subscription?

Here's my deal for you. If I find out your Grandpa was a horse-thief or some other lowdown skunk, I'll publish it for free. Then you'll come and beg me to take it down, that's when I'll make my money. Family pride. Of course, the farther back you go, if you find a horse-thief, you might smile and feel a little happiness about that. Because it's an interesting detail, even though it was shameful at the time. You've got more than his birth and death years.

OK, without looking, here's the names from the list that I remember. Honor system, not looking. McGiohon, Stribling, Head,  Barber, Adams, Smith, Beveridge, ... I should've read the list again first ...Bardot, Mays was last, Cheshire, going slower now, that's it, I guess. That's 10.

Now I'm going to look at the list again. How'd I forget Kellerman? There's Kellerman, Adams, Bardot, Grantham, Stribling, Head and Barber, whom I shall never forget, Maddox, Mays, Craig, Cheshire, McGiohon, I've got memory overload here. That's only two more than before... Dementia, take me now...

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