Saturday, June 11, 2016

The story of “Mildred”...

The story of “Mildred”...  An astute reader noted that the filtered view (link at right) for my mom uses the tag “Mildred”, and she wondered why.  After all, my mom's name is Elinor, not Mildred.  So what gives?

I don't remember how it got started, but in her later life “Mildred” was my mom's favorite nickname for herself.  It was used by both family and friends, and she often asked people to call her Mildred.  I do remember that at one point, when I was a child (this would be back in the '60s), we'd tease her by calling her Mildred – and she reacted just as you hope someone will react when you're teasing them.  We'd say things like “What a Mildred!”  Sounds quite silly now, but my mom didn't appreciate it.  She certainly didn't embrace the nickname as her own back then!

Her given name is actually Elinor, a slightly unusual variant of the name that's usually spelled Eleanor.  I've no idea why her parents chose the spelling they did, but I will note that the name Eleanor was very common for girls in the year she was born, and that spelling variations (including Elinor), while not as common as Eleanor, were certainly not rare.  I've only run into two much younger people who spelled their name as Elinor: one a young woman of perhaps 25 years, born in England; the other the baby girl of an employee of mine, adopted from a Chinese orphanage and named in honor of a grandparent.  I suspect it's pretty unusual these days, even if it wasn't in 1935.

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