What’s in a Name

Last week I stumbled across a map of the US that shows the most popular baby names for girls by state for the last fifty years. Some of the names were big, dropped off, and then came back. Others peaked never to return again.

Name map

I like the fact that some names mark an era. Whenever I see “Tammy” somewhere, odds are strong that that person is in her 40s. Thanks to the Tammy movies in the late 1950s – early 1960s, our moms had the idea of our name in the back of their minds.

Tammy and the Bachelor

Although it was such a popular name, the first time I ever ran into another Tammy was in the third grade. I was on the playground of a new school when a girl from a different class came up to me.

“Hi, I’m Tammy. What’s your name”

I was in shock. How could someone else have MY name?!?!!? I had to differentiate myself. “My name is Tammy. But it is actually short for Tamara.”

“Mine, too!”

I know the conversation went on, but I really wasn’t listening. How could there be more than one Tammy?

Then again, I’d always had classes with lots of Mikes, Johns, and Matts, which is how my mom explained it to me.

I don’t know why that threw me so much. In looking back, it is remarkable I made it that long without bumping into another person with my same name. I guess that was the turning point where I realized that the “Tammy’s in Love” song my mom sung to me wasn’t really about me.

Since then I have met many other Tammys. Once I was sitting at a formal event, a table for 8, in which all the women were named Tammy. Of course folks from the other tables found it quite humorous to come up and call out “Tammy” to see who would respond.

I like that my name is tied into a specific time. It’s another stamp tying me with an era.

When was the first time you met someone else with your same name? or Has anyone not named Tammy watched the Tammy films?

4 thoughts on “What’s in a Name”

  1. I LOVE the Tammy movies! Such great old stuff.

    Uh, but I guess that means we’re great old stuff, too…but I digress.

    I rarely meet someone else with my name. When I do, though, you can bet it’s a woman in her early-ish 40s. I can’t tell you the last time I saw a Lisa come through my classroom rosters – I think once in fifteen years. It’s not that popular any more – a true 70s name! Do the Hustle!


    1. Someone else has seen them!!!!! That is wonderful! I thought they were so wonderfully sappy and so perfect for the era.

      I prefer to think of it that we have aged well!

      I hadn’t realized that Lisa was a generational name as well. I knew one Lisa in high school. I’ve met a couple since, but you are right, they have all been my age or up to a decade older.


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