What’s in a Name?


All of my grade school life, I never sat in a classroom where there weren’t a few other boys who shared my first name. It turns out that there was a very good reason for that. According to the Social Security Administration, from 1954 until 1998, with the exception of one year, Michael was the most popular boy’s name in America. The exception came in 1960 where it came in second behind David. That’s still an impressive run of 44 years.

But it did cause some confusing moments. In the classroom, I could never figure out if the teacher was talking to me or one of the five other Michaels who sat near me. And at recess, out on the playground, I’d be forever turning around to find out who was calling me only to find out nobody was calling me… just my name. It happened every day…multiple times a day.

So I was tickled by a customer yesterday who had come in to the studio to have some old photos from the early 1900s restored. And as he was sharing with us who these people were that were in the pictures, ticking off their names, I commented on how unfamiliar their names seemed. It turns out it was a thing in their family. Their grandmother didn’t appreciate conventional names so she opted for naming her children with words that she would just make up. If it was in the baby book of names… she would simply come up with something else.

Over the years, the family adapted to their unusual monikers by taking their first and middle names and whittling them down to just the first initials. Thus Jerimillia Crimereo called herself JC; Podifer Amitelik would answer to PA; etc. That worked for most. Unfortunately, no one thought what it would be like for little Ventroy Delwhilm who, once grown, would to the family be forever known as Uncle VD.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

What’s Your Grandparent Name?


This lovely gift arrived in the mail for us today. Our daughter-in-law included a note saying she couldn’t resist buying them for us. What makes it special is that these are the grandparent names that her children call us.

Kate, my wife, came by her grandparent name as kind of a fallback position. In her family, the eldest woman has traditionally been known as “NanNan” by the younger generations. However, Kate’s mother is still with us and is still called “NanNan” by her kids, grandkids, and now great-grandkids. There can obviously be only one “NanNan” to a family so it was decided that when Kate became a grandmother she would be granted the oh-so-subtly different “Nana.”

My name took a bit more doing. A lot of different options were tossed around. Gramps, Grandpa, Grampy… none of them seemed to stick. Finally my daughter-in-law asked me if I had any nicknames growing up. “Only one,” I replied, “And it didn’t last long.”  When my sisters and I were born, my parents picked a cute baby name to coo at us. My sister Allison was called Ally-Oop after the comic strip character. My sister Bobbi was called Baba Looey after the cartoon character. And since there was apparently no animated character that inspired my parents where I was concerned, they decided to make one up. I was called, very briefly, Mickel the Pickle.

I should have never mentioned that to my daughter-in-law. The next time the grandkids visited I was greeted warmly with the shout “Papa Pickle!” As they got older, they must have reasoned that the Pickle part was pretty silly so they truncated my name to the much more appealing Papa. Papa is a name I can get used to… in fact, my heart melts every time I hear them say it.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit