What’s In A Name? Or Rather, What’s in Mine?

Is anyone really happy with their name? There are many women named Shirley and I recently came across a quote from one of them who wrote that she loves her name and is What's in a name 14happy that her parents chose it for her. I can’t say that I feel the same way. I again. looked up the meaning of my name and found that its origin is English and it means bright wood, bright meadow or bright clearing. I learned that long ago, it was a man’s name, and oftentimes a last name. But after Charlotte Bronte’s novel, “Shirley,” written in 1849, it was established as a female name. That is all well and good until I come to who the famous bearer of my name was, and it is always listed as child star, Shirley Temple.

Never have I personally had anything against Shirley Temple. At

t her death, just this past

I never looked or acted like she did.

I never looked or acted like she did.

February 10, 2014, she accomplished a great deal in her life. After her years as a famous child star, 1936-1938, she went on to perform as an adult and then began a second career in public life serving in several diplomatic posts.

What I don’t like is the idea that she is my namesake. Let’s stop and think for a moment what “namesake” means. Does it mean someone was named after you or you were named after them? As far as I can tell, it works both ways, a “namesake” is a person named after another, a person having the same name as another. I am definitely

It's a bit too late to ask that question.

It’s a bit too late to ask that question.

Shirley Temple’s namesake and here’s why. My mother told me that she named me, ” Joan.” Then when she returned home from the hospital, friends reminded her that she had planned to call me “Shirley.” So she changed it. I have always thought that she wished her little girl would turn out like her namesake. But I didn’t!

As a child, I loved singing and dancing and attending the musicals being shown in the theaters. but, unlike my namesake, I didn’t have natural curly hair, and I was never cute and chubby. Was my mother disappointed? I remember the day she wanted me to enroll in tap dancing lessons. By then, I had already become a Christian and although today’s church seems to accept dancing, it didn’t then. Dancing was a sin! So I refused the lessons. It began to look like there was no way,  I was  going to be like my namesake. In fact, I would rather have been named after my grandmother, Mae, or my aunt Etta, and always wished I had been named after my mother, Ada.

I shouldn’t complain about my name, but it does date me. The name Shirley was most popular from 1920 to 1960, then began to lose in popularity until it is seldom used today. What's In A Name 12When I look up what my name means, it reads: “Shirley likes to live life to the fullest. Her love life is important to her and she’ll start looking for her soul mate at a rather tender age.” Somehow this description does seem to fit. I have never forgotten a song that my grade school chorus sang. and although I have never been able to find information on the song, it has had a lasting impression on my life. I wonder if it was written by the chorus director? Perhaps you know of the song. Some of the lyrics are:                                                           “I love life,                                                                                                                                 I want to live,                                                                                                                           To drink of life’s fullness,                                                                                                      Take all it can give,                                                                                                                 I  love life, Every moment must count,                                                                                To glory in it’s sunshine and revel in its fount.”          Those words are firmly imprinted on my mind, and do describe my views on life. However, I cannot find any information on it. I’m hoping that readers of Shirl and You may be familiar with the song and will help me learn more about it..

Today people still name their children after movie stars. I wonder if they realize that Kirk

Roy Rogers birth name was Leonard Franklin Slye.

Roy Rogers birth name was Leonard Franklin Slye.

Douglas was really named, Issur Demsky , Judy Garland, Frances Gumm, Bob Hope’s real name was Leslie, Rock Hudson was Roy, and Cary Grant was Archibald. There’s more, too. Marilyn Monroe’s name was Norma Jean, Chuck Norris was Carlos and Mickey Rooney was Joseph Yule. Shirley Temple was her real name.

Juliet, of Shakepeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” said this: ” Names of things do not matter only what things are.” I like best what the Bible says about a name. In Proverbs it reads: “The memory of the righteous is a blessing but the name of the wicked will rot.” So, putting all is in proper perspective, my name should be of little concern, but rather, the way What's in a name 5I live. What do you think?

12 thoughts on “What’s In A Name? Or Rather, What’s in Mine?

  1. You couldn’t have any other name…it’s been Burl and Shirley for so long! It just goes together. And when I think of the name Shirley, I think of you – a tall, lovely, talented, Christian lady (and relative). Love and hugs, Linda


    • I loved what you had to say Linda. Sometimes we don’t appreciate family and cousins as we should. Oftentimes in younger years, it’s because of how busy we become raising families, and earning a living. Glad we’re in touch now. Thanks for writing.


  2. Shirley, I feel like you might have written about names before in your blog, because I do remember you mentioning Shirley Temple and how she was popular at the time and that’s how you came to be named Shirley. I wasn’t named after anyone and I don’t particularly like or dislike my name. I am glad that I wasn’t given a “popular” name, though. There are many names that are popular and they are names that you hear over and over again. I have only ever met one or two other women named Colleen. I like Christian names and I think it is nice when babies are named after family members, too. I think that everyone has their own reasons for giving a baby a particular name. I like the name Shirley, and you are the only Shirley that I have had the pleasure of knowing!! I agree with you. I think that God is concerned with how we live our lives and our name is not something to be too concerned about. No matter what our name is, God knows each and every single one of us and he loves us in spite of whether we like our name or not. 🙂


    • This was my 157th post on Shirl and You and as I wrote, I remembered that I had touched on the subject before….. and really I don’t dislike my name so terribly. Not everyone follows Shirl and You as closely as you do. Any suggestions on subjects to write about? I liked your comments, you are always right-on. We think alike. Thanks for writing I appreciate your opinions.




    • Yes, you were named after mom. She told me that because I always wished she had named me after her, you got my wish. Maybe your namesake will pass the name on to future generations. Good hearing from you. Thanks for writing.


  4. I love my name…once told my father…”if I was a boy…I would have wanted to be named Cubby”…he said…”that was going to be your name”. I was named after Karen from the Mouseketters…and Cubby was her best friend. Karen means Pure. People always refered to me as Shirley Temple because of my curls. The song you mentioned instantly reminded me of “A Christmas Carol The Musical” starring Albert Finney…but the words are not the same. I’ll do some sleuthing and see what I can come up with.


    • Good luck on the sleuthing. I would be so thrilled to know where that song came from. I love your positive attitude on nearly everything. I think you were born happy. It’s always fun hearing from you, Karen. Thanks for writing.


  5. The title of the song is “Air From Comus” by Thomas Augustine Arne 1710-1776. You can find sheet music online and sermons based on the lyrics.


  6. Kelly Coleman Very well written and interesting Shirley. My late daddy’s favorite secretary is a Shirley. She is a gem. I still see her around town occasionally. Shirley Temple was my mother’s favorite. What an amazing talent she was and an upright woman she became. You were well named.
    I was named after Gene Kelly. No, not the dancer but a young marine who fought alongside my daddy in the Pacific in WW2 and died too soon from a Japanese soldier’s bullet. When I was a kid I was made fun of because I was a male Kelly. Even though I had several male friends who were also named Kelly. I later learned that Kelly is the Celtic word for warrior and was originally a male name. As a Christian I wear the name with honor. But this is the name I desire:

    “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.” – Revelation 2:17


    • Hi Kelly: You are the only male we know with the name Kelly. I can’t imagine you with a different name. I enjoyed reading the story behind your name. I’m waiting, too, for that day we’re told about in the book of Revelation.Thanks for writing, Kelly.


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