first child was a daughter; she was given the female equivalent of
his own name, Georgia Ruth. Ruth came from our beautiful
Aunt Ruth, Mothers sister. Daddy reasoned at the time, and told
me later, that when he had a son, he wanted the son to have his own
name so as to be free to make his own mark in the world. At this stage
of his life (his early thirties), Daddy did not feel himself to be
a particular example in his endeavors. True, he was supporting his
family well, but he wanted his son to have a fresh start.
When I came along as the second child, three years after Georgia Ruth,
Daddy chose the name William. Willie had been the name
of his mothers first child, who died in infancy. William was
a traditional name in his Irish mothers family. Daddys
Irish cousin was named William Samuel (Daddys middle name was
Samuel). Daddy, a student of history, knew well of the German statesman
of his time, Kaiser Wilhelm, and thought of him when naming me. Daddy
always preferred my nickname Billy, perhaps after his
brother Willie, whom he never knew.
As it happened, the middle names of all three of us children came
from Mothers side of the family. My middle name, Eugene, came
from Mothers brother whom she admired. This name goes back to
her father, Horace Eugene Brown. My younger sister is Phyllis Virginia,
after my mother, Virginia.
For my first 16 years I was called Billy Jarvis. But just as I was
leaving high school for college, Billie Jeanne Dodson, my class valedictorian,
told me that I should call myself Bill at college, which
I did. As an adult I am called William, a little more formal as I
How naming children has changed over the years! Prior to Grandfathers
time, childrens names had to come from the Bible. This was the
law in many Christian countries. By Grandfathers time it had
become popular to name male children after great statesmen, and that
is how my grandfather, George Washington Jarvis, was named. Another
prominent person so named was George Washington Carver, the great
It is interesting that in later years children were named after favorite
movie stars. Just after I was born, talking movies were invented and
became very popular in the 1930s. The greatest star of the 1930s was
Shirley Temple, and there are many Shirleys around now who were born
then. In the 1980s, boys were named Sean after Sean Connery, the first
James Bond. About this time, it also became popular to give a child
two last names and to give girls a boys name, such as Kelly.
In the 90s it is common to use whimsical spellings of names and to
corrupt the spelling of foreign names.