Monday, August 23, 2010

What's in a Name?

I went out fishing this morning, but the weather is so foul that I decided to come home early and try to get a picture to download for the blog. This little stream flows into Chatham Straits and as far as I know salmon run up it, but on the day this picture was taken there weren't any that we could see. The name of this stream is Featherduster Creek. I like the name. I don't know why it's called Featherduster. There is usually a reason that something is named a particular thing. Ears Mountain is so named because it looks like the ears on a bears head. Port Frederick is named after the son of one of the kings of Europe. My boys are named after myself and both sets of grandfathers. I don't know who I was named after. No one that I know of. In fact Tom isn't the name on my birth certificate. It's Tommy. I don't say anything to Mom about it, but that's a name that could get a guy beat up in grade school. I always went by Tom. That didn't keep me from ever getting beat up, but I can only imagine the frequency of the beatings if I said my name was Tommy. The only other Tommy I ever knew was the Tommy on the Micky Mouse Club that I used to watch years ago. He was pretty much an adult then, so it looked kind of strange for a full grown guy to be hanging around a bunch of little kids wearing a pair of Micky Mouse ears. Hmmm. So much for guys named Tommy. On the other hand... maybe he was like me and just about every other boy from the ages of eight to fifteen back in the fifties and he had a crush on Annette Funicello. Holy smokes! Even with those goofy mouse ears on she was a fox. I don't know what there is about the name Tom that brought up so many negative connotations. Tom foolery, peeping Tom, Tom, Tom the pipers son, stole a pig and away he run. On the other hand there was the Tommy gun, a totally cool machine gun that gangsters used back in the days of prohibition, and Anna May Johnson whose husband owned the Vine Street Market back in my home town always used to call me Thomas Aquinas. I looked him up in my dictionary. It says he was an Italian scholastic philosopher. That hardly describes me. I'm not Italian at all. The whole thing that got me to thinking about names was when I was out in the boat the other day. On slow days, when the fish aren't biting, which have been numerous lately, I find myself sitting in the wheel house eating grahm crackers and listening to the radio. I usually monitor channel 16 on the VHF radio. That's the channel that you use to call other stations. I happened to hear a boat named the Bufflehead calling another boat, the name of which I can't remember. For those who may not know, a Bufflehead is a small black duck that feeds on small fish and is fairly common here in Southeast Alaska. Anyway, the guy who was being paged misunderstood who was calling. He thought a boat called the Wafflehead was contacting him. It may have been a mistake but I really liked that name. Because I'm at the age where my hearing is going, I could understand how the guy could have heard wrong. When Jan and I have a conversation anymore, every other word is "what?" or Huh?" and if we happen to be watching tv it's, "what did they say?" Even though I don't like waffles, I think if I ever get another boat, I'm going to seriously consider calling it the Wafflehead. I'm sure it will be the only one in the fleet with such a fine name.


  1. Good post dad, love the picture :)

  2. So - I guess I better not let your Mom read about your "Tommy" problems!!:)

    I certainly enjoy your pictures and comments. Keep them coming.

    I don't know how to select my profile but I am sure you know who I am!