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Scarvey column: Indiana Jones and the intriguing baby names

We in the Lifestyle department are often fascinated by birth announcements. Intriguing names show up regularly, like Paisley Seats and Indiana Jones. Just how cool would it be to be able to say, “Hello, I’m Indiana Jones”?
Sammy Turnipseed is a name I remember from my days at Wake Forest. I always pictured him wandering around with a burlap bag, populating the country with pungent root vegetables.
In 1990, I got to indulge my interest in names working for the U.S. Census Bureau.
Poring over the forms, I began to notice that Kayla kept showing up, over and over. I suspected it was because a popular character on the soap opera “Days of Our Lives” had the same name.
Now, thanks to www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames, I know that Kayla came in as the 14th most popular name that year.
If you’re looking for an entertaining time waster, this Web site fits the bill. Plug in any year you want, from 1888 to 2007, and can get a list of the 1,000 most popular names, boy and girl. Or simply plug in a name and track its popularity over the years.
A lot of popular traditional names, like Emily and Jacob, have made big comebacks of late. Emily in particular is on a tear, number one since 1996.
A less traditional name, Heaven, cracked the list in 1990 and has been a strong celestial presence since.
Serenity, Angel, and Precious are also in the top 1,000. Along with Heaven, they go in the category of “impossible to live up to” names.
(Parent to toddler: “Serenity! Take the hamster out of the toilet this instant!)
If “Heaven” seems like a bit too much pressure, then there’s the backwards version, “Neveah,” which came in at 31.
Place names like Brooklyn, London and Ireland are popular these days. We have not noticed any Rockwells or Kannapolises showing up in the Post birth announcements, although there have been some Faiths and Spencers.
Rowan made the list in 1999, at 989, and has since moved up more than 600 places.
I was kind of surprised to see the name Sebastian showing up in the top 100 in 2007 because that name always conjures up in my mind a portly ascot-wearing fellow. Or maybe a cartoon crab.
I wasn’t surprised to see that in 1961, my birth year, Lisa, Mary, Susan, Karen and Kimberly were the top five girls’ names, since those were the names of about half the girls I knew.
Dictator names were more popular than I would have guessed: like Napoleon (830), Fidel (803) and Benito (656). No Adolf, however, which fell out of the top 1,000 in 1928, presumably never to return.
I always thought my mom’s first name ó Nada, pronounced Nayda ó was unusual, but in 1934, it was 731 on the list. In Spanish, Nada (nah-da) means “nothing.”
Perhaps that’s why my mother goes by Joyce.
Contact Katie Scarvey at kscarvey@salisburypost.com

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