Saturday, April 10, 2010

Lech Kaczynski, Franklin Ramon Chang-Diaz, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Martinez and Shaair: 'Regular American' Names

Lech Kaczynski was President of Poland until a few hours ago. That's when the airplane he and about eight dozen other people were in hit the ground in Russia. Hard. No survivors.

I've written about that, earlier today.

Again, my condolences to the dead, their families and friends. And my prayers.

And Now, for Something Completely Different: Kaczynski is a 'Regular American' Name

The first association that flitted through my mind's front office, when I read about Poland's loss, was something like 'Kaczynski - that's a familiar name.' Sure, I've run into Lech Kaczynski in the news: but this memory went further back. A lot further back. Our neighbors' family name wasn't "Kaczynski" - quite - but it was close.

Fargo-Moorhead in the fifties and sixties wasn't as big as it is now, and was a bit more obviously Scandinavian-American. But the towns were in America - and 'regular American names' aren't the 'Smith/Jones/Brown' British mix. Haven't been for years. Decades. Generations.

Let's put it this way, a retired NASA astronaut's name is Dr Franklin Ramon Chang-Diaz. That's a 'regular American name.' Now. So's Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. And around here there are a fair number of Americans with names like Martinez and Shaair.

So, what happened to the America of "Happy Days" and white picket fences? Some of it never really existed. The rest did what everything in this world does: It changed. I wouldn't mind the zoot suit (with drape shape and reet pleats) coming back for a while: but on the whole, I don't mind living in a country that isn't exactly the same as the one I grew up in.

And yes: Kaczynski is the name of Poland's former president - and the name of a fair number of Americans, too. As of 1995, at least: and I don't think we've changed that much since then.

Related post:

2 comments:

Brigid said...

Repetitive much: "a retired retired NASA astronaut's"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...

Brigid,

So so I did. Fixed fixed it.

Thanks!

(This is part of the reason I'm giving myself a little vacation.)

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