A name by any other name


Texas' most famous Hogg - Governor during the 1890s (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)


If you are from Texas, you already know about Governor Hogg and his daughter. Before Hogg, governors had to be brought in from out of state; he was actually born in Texas and served during the 1890s. I heard about him when I was a very young child and immediately loved him because he named his daughter Ima. At the time, I didn’t consider how Ima felt about it; I just liked the sound of it. When I heard he had another daughter named Ura, I wished that my parents had loved me enough to name me Ura Hogg. Later I found out that Ura didn’t exist. I have lived with a broken heart ever since.


I can’t trace my love for wordplay to the story of Governor Hogg, but it definitely taught me that people’s names are fun to play with. (Note to reader: I am doing my best to stay away from pig puns. With a name like Hogg, that’s hard to do. But for your sake, I will gird up my tender loins and get out of this paragraph as fast as I can.)


Here’s what got me to thinking about Hogg. Yesterday, we saw a car with a license plate from Iowa. From deep within my brain, a wish came bubbling up; a wish that my last name was Lott and that I was from Iowa. Then my online name could be Iowa Lott.


The lovely Ima Hogg kept her name all her life (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

In the privacy of my own mind, I do this kind of nameplay all of the time. I once worked with a woman whose last name was Mennen. When she told me she had a grown daughter, I was quite excited. Before I could offer to be a matchmaker, she told me the daughter was already married. I dreamed of fixing her up with a man named Black. She would use a hyphenated last name: her maiden name and her husband’s last name. I imagined her wearing Ray-Ban sunglasses and a black suit to work. When people asked her name, she would answer simply, “Mennen-Black.” Had I been more careful about who I married, I could have had a name like that.


There’s more, of course, but today is the first day of classes for this semester and I need to get there early. I always look forward to my classes. The people sitting in those chairs are not just students to me, they’re names.