Monday, May 16, 2022

Still Life with Robin: Hello Henry, Hello Charlotte!

by Peggy Robin

 by Peggy Robin

The Social Security Administration just released the most popular baby names of 2021. Then AxiosDC put out the graphic below, showing the top ten baby names in our area, with separate columns for DC, Mayland, and Virginia:

Axios DC 5-13-22

I’m passing along this chart, just in case you are expecting a baby, or are close to someone who is expecting, and you think it’s important for the child not to be one of a clutch of Henrys or Charlottes at school, summer camp, or on a sports team.

I’m saying this, of course, as someone who never experienced that particular problem personally, as my own name Peggy (yes, that’s what my parents put on my birth certificate) has never been in the top 100 in the ranking of female baby names, and right now sits at the practically insignificant ranking of #6,255 (!) However, Margaret – from which the diminutive Peggy is derived, was in the top ten of girls names from the turn of the century all the way through 1940. It stayed in the top 50 until 1965 and remained in the top 100 until the 1990s. These days it’s down to #357.

It was something of a trend in the 1950s and ‘60s to give a child what is really a nickname as the actual birth-certificate name. Growing up, I was never surprised to meet a girl formally named Sally, not Sarah, or Betsy, not Elizabeth, and I suppose it did not surprise them to learn that my full given name was NOT Margaret.

What would have been surprising to us, in the ‘50s and ‘60s, would have been to meet an Ava, other than that internationally famous and impossibly glamorous actress, Ava Gardner. And we would not even have known what to make of a girl named Maya. That was a name of an ancient people, like the Inca or the Aztec (as far as we knew).

Of course, I’ve adapted and changed with the times and now am not surprised by anything that anyone tells me they’ve named their child. Elon Musk named his son X Æ A-12 and his daughter Exa Dark. (I am not making this up, and if you want to waste a little time looking over a list of weird celebrity baby names, go here: .)

As for babies I know personally, through friends and family members who had a child in the past three years -- It’s not a large sample, I grant you -- but they're all pretty nice:

* Alice and Steve (in my extended family) named their baby Emma.

* Ben and Emma (in my extended family) named their baby Alice.

* Sarah and Eric (in my extended family) named their baby Elizabeth (Lizzie)

* Luke and Katie (in my extended family) named their baby Myles.

* Friends became grandparents of a boy named Eli.

* Friends became grandparents of a boy named Calvin.

….and here’s the kicker: The newest baby in my extended family – born September of 2021 to parents Nick and Kathleen  –  is named Margaret. But I've been told she will be known as Maggie (never Peggy!)


Still Life with Robin is posted on the Cleveland Park Listserv and All Life Is Local on Saturdays (most of the time, but this one’s been posted a bit late!)

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