What's in a (boomer) name?


The year was 1946. It was the start of the baby boom. In 1946, 3.47 million boomers were born. As it worked out, the first boomer born was Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, born one second after midnight, on January 1, 1946. She is now a retired schoolteacher. She was the first boomer to apply for social security benefits, which she did at age sixty-two. Kathleen was the 36th most popular name. Mary and James were number one. 1946 gave us such notables as Bill Clinton, Cher, Dolly Pardon, Donald Trump, George W. Bush, Jimmy Buffett, Linda Ronstadt, Sally Field, Sylvester Stallone, Steven Spielberg, and my good buddy, Spooky. Spooky was a little shaky. He became a taxi driver. Nothing against taxi drivers, but he seemed to never reach his full potential.

By 1947, James remained the most popular male name, but Linda replaced Mary as the most often given first female name. The birth rate moved up to 3.9 million. Some of the more recognized people born in 1947 include Johnny Bench, David Bowie, Glenn Close, Elton John, Stephen King, David Letterman, Danielle Steel, Carlos Santana, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Karen Valentine, who I did have something of a crush on over the years. I personally know a Bill, Tim, René, Tom, Pat, Susan, and one of my best friends ever, the night king of Freeburg, Illinois, Roy. Roy could drink more booze than any one person I have ever known. He also was a bit hard on the marijuana, but he claimed it was part of his religion. He only needed about three hours of sleep before he was ready to roll, literally, again. Roy was one hell of a nice guy, and is fondly remembered. He died at age 38. There apparently was a misunderstanding concerning another woman. The misunderstanding was he forgot she was married. Her husband didn't.

By 1948, the birth rate fell to 3.5 million. The most popular names were once again James and Linda. Seems the WWII era was not filled with a lot of creative parents, particularly when it came to naming us. Some of the more famous people born in 1948 include Al Gore, Cat Stevens, Barbara Mandrell, Howard Dean, James Taylor, Rhea Perlman, Samuel Jackson, Prince Charles, Nell Carter, Ozzy Osbourne, and Kate Jackson. And me. Bruce, the 28th most popular name in 1948. There ain't a lot of Bruces. Most came during the baby boom. I never asked my mother how they came up with my name. I had no relatives named Bruce, at least none that I know of. My mother and father never had a friend named Bruce. I don't remember anyone we knew having a dog named Bruce. There were not really any big movie stars or athletes or singers named Bruce at the time. Although Bruce Lee had been born, he would have only been eight at the time. So I don't think they "just called me Bruce" on account of him.

In the end, I guess they called me Bruce because they thought I would make a good Bruce. My grandmother always called me Brucie. Bruce is a Scottish name. Since both sets of my grandparents were German, I suppose that makes sense. Robert of Bruce was a Scottish hero in the 14th century who became King of Scotland. He helped Scotland achieve independence from England. As it worked out, I too was a King. I was King of the prom, in 1966. Well, sort of. The real King was sick, so I was a stand-in. I also had to escort the Queen to the prom, who was his girlfriend. But I was a real gentleman and a tribute to the name, which, by the way, remains me. What's in a name, anyway?