I had the unexciting job of being an impartial person who pulled names from a basket for the lottery of next year's class at a charter school where my daughter is the secretary. Something over 500 applicants for about 240 places. I drew the card, someone wrote the number on it, my daughter read the name aloud -- to the room full of parents and some students -- and another secretary entered it into a computer. I listened to the names of these 14 and 15 year olds. Many Taylers and Tylers, Hannahs and Emmas. There were some ethnic names but our area is markedly Yankee so I was astonished at the end because among all 500 I don't think I heard a John, George, Edward, Charles, David or James nor did I hear a Mary [one Maria], Elizabeth, Anne, Margaret, Barbara nor any of those J girls so popular in my generation, Jane, Joyce, Joan, Jean and Jennifer.
Name popularity is trendy. Every now and then I come across lists of "most popular baby names this year". They reflect our demographics and they reflect popular entertainment stars. Nevertheless I remained amazed that in New England the solid names of 50, 150 and 250 years ago are rare. However, my daughter, who has had to file and deal with all the applications tells me that many of the old names, especially for girls, remain as middle names.
And isn't it wonderful that the possibilities are so great that even in some of the largest cities' phone books many names are oners. Mine is one of those combinations that a Google search tells me has no match in all their files. Isn't it wonderful that parents look at their tiny babies and expect them to be unique, give them unique names and watch them grow into unique individuals. And then it may happen that a time will come when they sit in a room where a lottery is drawn waiting to hear that name, hoping the boy or girl will get a certain kind of education. I was truly impartial but I couldn't help looking at the little girl whose eyes swam with tears when she heard her name among the chosen, and then later at the parents sitting stoically as they did not hear their children's names until the numbers were so high they could not possibly climb up that wait list.
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