News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

June 21, 2011

LIZ CIANCONE: What’s in a name? It's part of an identity

TERRE HAUTE — A letter from a friend recently asked if I liked my name! He claims I look like an Elizabeth.

Actually, I’d never thought about it before, but I guess I think that Elizabeth is too regal a name to really fit me. On the other hand, Elizabeth is who I am. Fortunately, it’s a name which lends itself to nicknames. I’ve picked “Liz.”

I’ve always been thankful that I wasn’t named for either grandmother. I never knew Grandma Agnes, but I don’t feel like an “Aggie.” Or, I could have been named for Grandma Elma. I never heard of another Elma, but I’m glad it isn’t me.

I was already Elizabeth before Shirley Temple hit the screen, so I was spared that. “Shirley” reminds me of a cute, curly-haired moppet and thinking of myself as Shirley strains my imagination.

I’m grateful Mom and Dad didn’t get cute and make up something. I’m told Dad wanted to name me “Laura,” after Mom. She drew the line and he vetoed her choice of “Sally.” I would have liked being Laura, but I’m satisfied with the compromise.

We did get another Laura when our granddaughter was born. Her parents call her “L.” Sooner or later we all get a nickname.

I look at the current spate of Tiffany or Chantelle and wonder about nicknames. Hard to imagine a Tiffany being tagged “Fanny.”

My cousin, the nutty one, married a man whose last name was “Harris.” She named their daughter “Scarlet O.” No points for cute and as soon as Scarlet O was of age she changed her name. She’s “Sandra” now.

My Best Friend never liked his name but he’s had plenty of choice. He was baptized as “Armand” but has always been called “Elmer.” He likes his middle name, but already had a cousin named “Sam.” The neighborhood kids dubbed him “Cinc” — rhymes with sink — and that followed him through the Air Force as his call sign. Number Two son also drew “Cinc” as his call sign in the Navy.

So, do I like my name? Mom and Dad picked it. It’s who I am and have been for a lot of years. Who else would I be?

Liz Ciancone is a retired  Tribune-Star reporter. Send e-mail to

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