What’s in a name?
Forget Punter Ponting, Pup Clarke and Mr Cricket, instead, think local and think nicknames, acquired names.
When I recently tried to track down something or someone in reference to a local event, I realized that not too long ago, nicknames for men were common but for some reason this was no longer the case. Trying to work out who Milky Jack really was, or the given name for Dook Cox, led me to a senior local identity for help, someone who had fond memories of the days when nicknames were commonplace in Maldon.
Probably the best known holder of a nickname in Maldon today is Kinga, builder extraordinaire, muso, and good friend to many, including those who need and appreciate a helping hand. But the question that immediately comes to mind is, “Is Kinga Maldon’s last nick-name holder?” Maybe not, but there just wasn’t time to go looking. Please let us know what you think.
Meanwhile, here is a list of nicknames from the Maldon of yesteryear supplied by our local informant. We have not changed or added anything other than to leave off real names but have included just a hint of explanation when it was thought necessary. Here they are …
Slick Annand, Barney Baxter, Boof Baxter, Bumper Baxter, Stalkey Benstead (tall and skinny), Blowie Bolitho, Hooker Bowl, Bollick Bill, Boots (large feet), Bongo Bullen, Paddy Cox, Dook Cox, Nigger Cox, Crowie Cox, Wish-em-dead (undertaker), Milky Jack (milkman), Hopper Johnson (one leg missing), Slacka Laity, Motor Leach (mechanic), Shortie Long, Chookie Pollard, Cocka Skinner, Snoopy Smith, Doggie Webster, Wireless Willy (Bill the radio mechanic) and Chippa Woods.
Meanwhile, a correspondent who remembers Wedderburn in its earlier days volunteered a couple more names and a yarn to go with them. Notable among the locals back then was Fat Richie, Grumpy Ross, and the brothers Pickles and Parkin Ball.
The yarn provided a glimpse of small town humour with a story about the Methodist minister whose car slid off a wet unsealed road and became bogged on the way to Sunday service. He arrived only a few minutes late. In his apology to the waiting congregation for his lateness he explained what had happened and how fortunate he was to have been “pulled out by the Balls”. Pickels and Parkin, that is.
As so often happens when we get side tracked, we end up with more questions than answers. Why were nicknames so popular then but less common now? And women rarely had a nickname. Why was this so? And what was the origin of nicknames to begin with? Perhaps we should consult the works of Dr Sigmund Freud. He knew a lot of stuff!