by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams
My sister and I had a good conversation last night about nicknames. We shared a few laughs walking down memory lane. I don’t know how prevalent they are up north, but here in the south, I know a lot of people who are called by a nickname.
My name is Debra Ruth, but most people who’ve known me all my life call me Debbie. I’m not sure that’s as much a nickname as some, but I guess it still qualifies. One of my Florida friends always calls me Debra D. My husband calls me D. My grandchildren call me DD.
When I was a child, Mama always called me Debbie Jane. I have no clue why on earth she didn’t just name me that. I asked her once, but I honestly don’t remember her answer. My daddy’s stepmother’s name was Ruth, and that is where that came from. Debra came from one of Mama’s friends. On my birth certificate, it is spelled Debarroh as whoever wrote it couldn’t spell it. I had I legally changed to Debra when I was sixteen as that is how I’d always spelled it.
My sister got married when I was only ten. My brother-in-law Julian, the brother-of-my-heart, has always called me Ruthie. He’s the only one who does that. I and my husband call my brother-in-law, Bub. He got that one when I came to the conclusion that I needed a good name for him that was just my name for him. Thus, Bub, short for the ever-popular Southern Bubba, was born. That’s only fitting as I’ve always called my sister, Sissy.
Now, Sissy didn’t get by with just that one nickname. No, she wasn't that lucky. She was named Bobbie Ann for our daddy Bob who was called Bobby in his childhood and youth. But Sis was called Bobbie Sam, for our grandfather, Sam DuPree. She wound up just being called Sam by many who love her and know that story. These days, she prefers the name she earned with the birth of Brit, her first grandchild . . . MiMi. Everyone who knows her well calls her MiMi these days. Well, except for me. I still call her Sissy.
Sissy and I had this one cousin, God bless his sweet soul, who was . . . well . . . different. He was the only child of one of Mama’s sisters. To the family, he was always Doodlebug. His mother and father never called him that, but Mama and her other sisters did. And the cousins did. He’s in Heaven now, but when I think of him, Doodlebug is the name that comes to mind.
My Family's Names
My husband has a few nicknames. His name is James, but I’ve always called him J. When he was a boy, he was known as Jimmy. The younger of his two sisters still calls him Jimmy and her children call him Uncle Jimmy. To his other sister, he is Jim, and her kids call him Uncle Jim. But he garnered the name Willie when he was in high school. I don’t know anyone who calls him that these days. In a workplace in Florida, many years ago, a co-worker began calling him by a certain nickname. I can't post it here as J uses it for passwords. Our eldest son always calls his dad by that name when he calls him on the phone. For some reason, it just resonated with Ken and he uses it affectionately. But I think other than Dad, J’s favorite name is JJ, what our grandchildren call him.
J and I have four sons. The eldest one is Ken. When he was little we called him Kenny Boo. Boo stuck and sometimes we still call him that. Son number two is Christopher and we called him Crisco. We don’t do that anymore. We used to call him Chris, but a few years ago, he told us he loves his name and wishes to be called Christopher. So that’s what we all call him now. Son number three is T. Adam. Once or twice he’s been called Tommy Toe Nail. I hated that, so it didn’t last long. My daddy always called him Little A. But now, he’s just Adam. It suits him. Then along came our surprise in the form of Daniel. God bless him, he’s had the nickname of Budgie since he was born, with us often calling him Budge. I frequently call him Daniel B. or even Baby Boy, but not in public. He doesn’t go by Danny. Mostly, he’s just Daniel.
Family nicknames always take on a life of their own. Some are so old, we have no clue where they originated or how they evolved. In the olden days, Mary was often Polly, sometimes Dolly. Martha was Nancy. Mama’s elder sister, Beulah, was Doll. Her sister Mary was called Fatty by her siblings. Let me add, I never called her Aunt Fatty. Mama’s elder brother was Bura and was called Boo by the family. Mama’s younger brother was Chester, but we called him Uncle Check. Mama, Dorothy, was always Dot─one of the Bass Twins─Dot and Doris.
Do you have a nickname? How did you come by it? Share that with us below.