Does your name influence your destiny?
- Susan Matheny
- Madras Pioneer - News
>Strange names abound in the news
Does your last name influence your fate or profession?
In the pre-Industrial Revolution days, last names often recorded a person's lineage. Sons of Jack, Richard or Peter took the last name of Jackson, Richardson and Peterson, respectively. Or a last name could indicate someone's profession, as in Miller, Fisher, Hunter, or Weaver.
But today? Could last names still wield any influence?
I first began noticing a trend after President Bush's inauguration, when I saw that the man who designed Laura Bush's inaugural gown was "Michael Faircloth." A coincidence? I think not.
After that, name coincidences seemed to pop up every time I read a magazine or newspaper and I started collecting them with the fervor of an avid stamp collector. Most of these examples are English names, but if you have a foreign name, find out what it means in that language. The answer might surprise you.
Of course there are the locals, Madras Attorney James Laws, Fire Marshal Gary Marshall (now of Bend), rancher Jeannie Carver, who sells cuts of fresh lamb meat to fine restaurants in Central Oregon, and Ben Herr (sounds like Hur), ranch manager of Young Life's Christian Youth Camp at the Big Muddy Ranch.
The rest of the strange names fell into several categories:
Coincidence with professions
Bruce Mate (as in sailor), a professor with the OSU Marine Mammal program, spends his time tracking whales.
Carmen Cash (her real name), is a California call girl who was featured in a Glamour Magazine story.
Tom Hack, works to keep the public from coughing and hacking in his job as a DEQ air quality specialist in Pendleton. Last year, he issued a warning that smoke from burning household waste is a health hazard.
A piece of junk mail showed me a picture of Ferdinand Mahfood, the founder of Food for the Poor, and asked for a donation.
The Sunday comics column on famous people informed me that John Flicker was the president of the National Audubon Society.
Meanwhile, the Hood River News carried an article on Dell Charity, a business owner who loves to volunteer his time to charity organizations, serve on boards, be a mentor, and act as a mediator between gang members and law enforcement.
Did you know Ron Bloodworth was the Youth Suicide prevention Coordinator for the State of Oregon?
National Public Radio interviewed grammar expert Richard Letterer, who works for Random House Dictionary.
Representing Tillamook on a 12-member council working with the Oregon Department of Agriculture was -- who else -- Suzanne Cudd.
Just a few weeks ago, John Buckhouse spoke on the OSU Cascades campus in Bend on "Wild Horses of the West."
Did you catch the PBS TV show featuring fungus toxicologist Michael Moss, who is studying the connection between the Salem witch incident and ergot fungus in wheat, to see if the fungus caused the girls' to have hallucinations?
Who else should head the Oregon Natural Resources Council but Wendell Wood?
Each summer the community of Antelope is lucky enough to host nationally-known country Christian singer Susie Luchsinger, who performs a free concert.
Conflict with professions
This list is smaller, but just as interesting. For instance, don't you think it's weird that a Catholic nun honored for her service last year in Bend was named Sister Catherine Hellmann?
How about Charles J. Swindells being the vice chairman of the U.S. Trust Corporation's Portland office?
Names to ponder?
When I got a postcard for OSU's "Over Lunch" program at the Bend Country Club, featuring political science professor Dr. Bill Lunch, my first thought was: "Does he get stuck with the lunch bill?"
These are the most fun to discover, because the coincidences are so obvious you'd swear the names were made up.
In November, teacher Pamella Settlegood did just that when she won a $1 million settlement against the Portland School District for being unfairly dismissed.
A tidbit from the Salem paper related a Pentecostal pastor was stabbed in the chest and abdomen by his stepson during an argument at the church. The stepson, Toby Moody, was jailed on attempted murder charges.
Last December, South African internet tycoon Mark Shuttleworth paid $25 million to be the second "space tourist" to ride a space shuttle up to the International Space Station for an eight-day vacation. Hope he got his shuttle worth.
Remember the movie "Psycho?" My husband found an obscure story about a Springfield man named Dana Lawrence Hitchcock, who was stabbed multiple times by his estranged wife while he was taking a shower. Did her name, Aurora Diamond, indicate she had a heart of stone?
Everyone remembers billionaire Marc Rich, who was pardoned of tax evasion charges by President Clinton during his last hours in office. The rich man had kept his dough by living in Switzerland since 1983.
Then there's Robert Tools -- the first recipient of an artificial heart.
Maybe it's a power of suggestion thing, where hearing your own last name repeated over and over sends subliminal messages to steer you in a certain direction.
If so, what's your name, and are you living up to it?