January Thaw

It’s the time of year when Mother Nature can’t make up her mind. It goes from warm to cold and back again.

That was one of the unpleasant things about living in the Midwest. In late winter, the freeze/thaw cycle. Frozen ground, one day, and the next day, mud. There was nothing beautiful about dirty snow.

Other unpleasant things: Being attacked by pieces of blanket fuzz. Blanket fuzz went straight for the eyes or nose. Which brought up another subject–nicknames.

One of my grade school friends was called “Fuzz” or “Fuzzy.” Did you have a nickname when growing up? Perhaps, an unflattering one, that you’d just as soon forget?

In my town there was “Punk” Dowland, who was short in stature. “Peachy” Leach–the nickname, an obvious play on words. Other nicknames seemed strange without knowing the history behind them, for example “Push” Banks, and “Slats” Rands.

Of course there were those blessed with common nicknames–“Buzz,” “Butch,” “Red,” “Dutch,” “Moose,” “Rabbit.” Who could forget “Hot Rod” Conroy?

I wanted a cool nickname, never had one.  Shortened versions of my given name, like Billy, Bill, Willy, or Will didn’t count.  There were two unflattering ones–“Shaky,” and “Ice Blue.”

To those nicknamed “Skippy” I hold no grudges.  Pardon me, but, I always hated that name.

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Nicknames

“Hi Dot.  It’s been too long.  Stop by again–sometime.”  Mom’s given name was Dorothy.  Her friends called her “Dot” or “Dottie” before me and my siblings came along.  Nicknames, that were logical extensions of Dorothy.  It seemed weird at the time.

My given name was William, or William, middle name Arthur.  Nobody called me William or Willie–there was the normal Billy, when I was younger, and then Bill.  My closest friends called me “Wild Bill,” after I reached adulthood.  My middle name was left untouched.

Public school kids were cruel.  Nicknames intended as put downs, emphasized worst qualities.  “Four eyes,” for glasses wearers; “gimpy,” or “gimp,” named anyone with hitches in their get-a-longs.

In our little town, several residents had unusual nicknames.  There was “Peachy” Leach, “Push” Banks, “Silver” Scroggins, “Punk” Dowland; sometimes Floyd Rands was called “Slats.”  Never figured the last one out–unless it related to the “Abby And Slats” cartoon.

In high school, I was saddled with “Ice Blue,” because of excess perspiration.  I was also nicknamed “shaky” because of excessive nervousness.  Neither nickname stuck with me–thank goodness.

Why couldn’t I have had one of the cool nicknames–like, Scooter, Skip, Buzz, Zip, Biff?  All of which signified action–toughness.  It was just as well, none fit my personality.  None except “Wild Bill.”  I’ll leave everyone to figure that one out.