Whatever happened to Mike the butcher, Bernie the clown, Wally the telephone guy, or Barb the hairdresser? And, whatever happened to the tradition of naming your eldest boy after his father, who was named after his father? Hey, I didn't like being called 'the turd', but, it was worth it to me to be named after my father Walter Jr., who was named after my grandfather Walter Sr.
The naming tradition and those people given nicknames and monikers like most things which once came from Chicago's neighborhoods are a thing of the past. Today, you rarely hear someone called Junior, Goose, Buddy, Peggy, Ed the garbage man, Sophie the candy lady, or Stanley the usher. Instead you hear kids named after vampires, political activist, streets surrounding a ballpark, an object, and names which could be either a boy's or girl's name.
The 'culturally diverse' neighborhood of Bucktown on the northwest side I grew up in was like so many others in Chicago, where the sport kids played in the streets and alleys would change with the different seasons, churches and schools were the reason people lived in their neighborhoods, street vendors would offer to sharpen your knives or sell you fresh fruit, and waiting for the air raid sirens to be tested on Tuesday at 10:30 AM would help you set your clocks to the correct time. Neighborhood like mine were a place where the first born male child was named after his father and when many people shared the same first name and their last name couldn't be pronounced, those people were given monikers to go along with their name. And, a nickname would be given to someone when a moniker wouldn't sound right or fit a person, nicknames like: Preacher Man, Little Joe, Big Joe, Fonzie, Bibis, or Croc.
While, I can agree with a lot of the changes and new approaches in Chicago's neighborhoods. One, which brought a little charcter and color was the handing out of nicknames and monikers and I believe this practice is sorely needed by many of Chicago's new residents. There was some comfort of knowing Art the TV guy could fix my set in time for me to watch the Cubs or let my grandmother watch the vampire in Barnabus Collins on the soap opera Dark Shadows. Or, knowing Billy the paper boy would deliver our Chicago Today in the evening for me to check box scores, my Mom to check her horoscope before she left to work nights, and for my grandfather to read the comics and break out into a 'belly' laugh to allow him to temporarily forget about his chronic arthritis and bad heart.
I love all the nicknames our mayor has gotten from the press (Rahmulus, Rahmster, and Stubby), but, those nicknames seem mean spirited in nature. I would love to hear the new people of Chicago's neighborhoods use their creativity they brag to others about and start giving monikers and nicknames to people again. The monikers and nicknames added some character to my old neighborhood and made Russian Annie, Polack Joe, or Ted the Precinct Captain more' life-like' and helped to lighten things up a bit, something the dull neighborhood's of Chicago are without today.
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