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FROM THE PUBLISHER

What’s in a name? Sometimes it’s hard to tell

Posted

People all over the country are re-evaluating the merits, or lack thereof, of the names of different buildings, parks, military bases, schools, sports teams and just about anything that has a name.

It got me to thinking about names, and how they are used, or not used, in society.

Take for instance, Caliche’s Frozen Custard.

The bright neon hotspots for cool treats in Las Cruces and Alamogordo are popular, especially during the summer, and the hot dogs are great, too.

So why do half the people in town call it Scoopy’s?

Well, that used to be its name. Turns out there was another Scoopy’s elsewhere, so they changed the name to Caliche’s, a sort of Spanish reference to the term “concretes” used in other regions to describe frozen custard.

Just as many will always call Caliche’s Scoopy’s, many will always call D.H. Lescombes Winery & Bistro, St. Clair, the name it had for years at its location on Avenida de Mesilla.

Our editor, Jess Williams, often adds his middle initial, C., which makes it Jess C. Williams, which makes me think “Jessie,” but also puts me in mind of Fred C. Dobbs, the Humphrey Bogart character in the classic black-and-white movie “Treasure of Sierra Madre.”

Another news editor who worked the Bulletin for several years, also used his middle initial, Todd G. Dickson, which sometimes put me in mind of Maynard G. Krebs, the pre-Gilligan Bob Denver character from the old black-and-white TV Show “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.

Another local journalist, S. Derrickson Moore, since retired, initialized her first name in her byline, and another New Mexico journalist, T.S. Last, with the Albuquerque Journal, just went with all initials. The first shall be Last, or something like that.

You may or may not know Telshor Boulevard is named for two Las Cruces developers, Pardner Tellyer and Bob Short, who created the first Las Cruces housing east of their self-named boulevard, which was a dirt road at that time, in the early 1970s.

I learned this from another former Bulletin colleague, Sid Graft, who described Tellyer as a character. I said, with a name like Pardner, he must have been a character. Sid said Pardner may have been his given, legal name, as he never went by anything else. “If that’s the case,” Sid reasoned, “his parents must have been characters, too.”

And Sid, who you might have guessed is a man, is actually quite the lady, and she’s had issues with name confusion her whole life. When she turned 18, she received a draft card during the Vietnam War. And later, when she left her hometown of Levittown, New York, to go to college at the distant outpost of New Mexico Highlands in Las Vegas, New Mexico, she found herself the first day of freshman year in a classroom surrounded by young men. Very large men. And Sid, well, she’s never seen five feet tall without the benefit of high-heeled shoes.

“Young lady, I believe you’re in the wrong place,” said the instructor who, as it turned out, was the head of the athletic department. And her classmates were the freshman football team.

“Well, it says this classroom,” Sid said, looking down at her schedule, which also included her name.

“Let me see that,” the instructor said.

 “Oh, I see the problem,” he said. “This is actually a problem I’m quite familiar with.”

Sid later learned the instructor’s first name: Marion.