OH, JOE! (More Than Just Food And Drink)

"Sloppy Joe"-- when a messy sandwich is a full meal.

“Sloppy Joe”– when a messy sandwich is a full meal…and fun.




Espresso is something to take seriously.  Don't give any to a child, or a kitten.

Espresso is caffeine to take seriously. Don’t give any to a child, or a kitten.

Here’s a short list of baby names in 2015: Swayze, Orson, D’Artagnan, Nyx, Fenella, Larkyn and Monet.   So far in 2016, some of the names are Mhavrych, Beberly, C’andre, and Abcde.

Then there’s Joe. In the early 1900s, Joe (or Joseph) was the fifth most popular baby name, and in 2011 it ranked 22nd in popularity. And that doesn’t include Joe Cool, Average Joe, G.I. Joe, Sloppy Joe, or the feminine Jo, JoAnn, Joey and Joley. Joe is one of America’s most popular, enduring names, as evidenced in actors, sports legends, politicians, phrases, and establishments.

March 27 is National Joe Day. Celebrate it over a cuppa joe with friends, and consider a secondary celebration: For one day, call yourself Joe (or some version of the name) and see what happens.  Supposedly, one day of being Joseph or Jo Ann will give you new insights. (Just don’t sign checks or any legal papers with your one-day name, or it will also give you a whole new set of problems.)

Changing your name for one day gives you a chance to see the world—and yourself—differently.  Is JOE or JO ANN kinder, smarter, happier, more hopeful or helpful?   Does JOE or JO ANN order foods you don’t like, get more done, or kick back and enjoy being a couch potato?  If for a day you’re JOE or JO ANN, will you take a risk, apologize to someone, express what you’re really feeling, sing in public, hug a stranger, or confront a bully?

National Joe Day is yours to do with as you will. It’s not like entering the Witness Protection Program or legally changing your name.   It’s just one day to be someone else and see the day through new eyes.   Or just have a cuppa joe with a friend and talk about what it would be like—good or bad—to have a different name for a day, and be a different person.  This isn’t an exercise to experience what  it’s like to have Alzheimer’s or dementia, but you might be surprised.

Senator and Vice President, Joe Biden

Senator and Vice President, Joe Biden

Shoeless Joe Jackson. Supposedly his nickname came from wearing on his socks while trying to get used to his new baseball shoes.

Shoeless Joe Jackson. Supposedly his nickname came from wearing only his socks while trying to break in his new baseball shoes.

Saint Joseph, husband to Mary.  (All Joe/Joseph pictures, Wickipedia)

Saint Joseph, husband to Mary. (All Joe/Joseph pictures, Wikipedia)



Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, experiments, just doing the best we can, lessons about life, memories for great-grandchildren, Special Days in March

54 responses to “OH, JOE! (More Than Just Food And Drink)

  1. What strange names on that list! The old fashioned names have their place. Friend just named his girls Ava and Emma. I like that. Names are important because already you have an assigned image from someone else without earning it. A name can be who someone wants you to be. I like the Native American way of naming once you know the person…changing as the person changes. Although now I would be called She With Big Ache in Broad Hips!!! Happy Easter, Marylin!

    • Your Native American name makes me smile, Claudia. When I was a debater in high school, one of my opponents called me She Who Is A Pain In The Neck. I took it as a compliment, since he called me that after we won the round, but still, a 17-year-old girl would like to be called something better by a cute boy. 🙂
      Wishing you and your family a relaxing Sunday when you can get ride of that Big Ache. 😉

  2. Nancy Parker Brummett

    Something to think about! Thanks.

  3. juliabarrett

    I love old fashioned names. Rose. Emma. Etta. Joseph. Samuel. Good time to have a non-kitschy name.

    • Samuel–a family name on my mother’s side–has been a favorite of mine since I was young, Julia. Molly was in 2nd grade when the Cabbage Patch craze took hold. She had a red-haired doll with a birth certificate for “Elizabeth” (Molly’s middle name). Then she got a kit to make her own Cabbage Patch baby, a little bald baby she named Joseph…but called Jofus to sound more original. 😉

      • juliabarrett

        Oh, I love the names Molly and Elizabeth as well. Our youngest is Sadie. she loves her name! My son’s Hebrew name is Benjamin, his English name is Daniel Joseph.

      • Wonderful names, Julia, all of them. Molly would smile and call your son Daniel Jofus. Well, maybe when she was a child, younger than her children are now. Some names we love forever.

  4. There are great, traditional old names and then there are new names. Who in heck calls their child Abcde? How do you pronounce it when calling your child in from play? Exposing your child to being made fun of at school is no joke including starts who name their children Fifi Trixiebelle or even Apple. Being wealthy won’t save them from ridicule and will just occupy the analysts couch.
    xxx Sending Massive Easter Hugs to you xxx

    • In 30 years of teaching, David, there were many popular student names that the teachers could back-track the right number of years and connect to the characters in popular movies. Often the students were not happy to be named after the movie stars, and they chose their own nicknames.
      Fifi Trixiebelle was never in my class 🙂 but like you, when I read of Apple being a name, I wondered how that would work out. Massive Easter Hugs to you, too, David. ❤

  5. Names can be tricky. It is a huge responsibility when you name a child as they have to live with it their entire life. I wanted something different (not your average Joe!) but nothing too weird either. I think I did OK and my kids like the names I picked for them. Have a very Happy Easter time!!

    • By the time Molly was born, I’d been teaching high school enough years that many of my previous choices had been ruined by problem students. Now Molly loves her name, but when she was in grade school she joined her friends who wanted to change their name, and for awhile she used her middle name. We didn’t react, and very quickly it wore itself out.
      Happy East to you, too, Darlene.

  6. I think I prefer Joe to Tom, Dick, and Harry. My son is named Joel and I have a son-in-law Joe. My nieces chose old-fashioned names for their babies: Ella and Helen Ruth, a combination of two great-grandmothers.

    Celebrities’ baby name choices are ridiculous and seem to sacrifice propriety for notoriety. But that’s my opinion on names like Blue or North.

    Before this becomes a rant, I leave you with Ursula LeGuin: “Everything has a true name, that’s what the young wizard of Earthsea learnt.”

    As always, your posts hold surprises. Thank you! (So there is Wikipedia and Wickipedia?)

    • Oh, Marian, I am SO glad I can count on you, fellow writer and English teacher. No, there’s only Wikipedia, but my typing got carried away. Thank you.
      While I have never appreciated my own name, it is a form of my mother’s name, Mary. Instead of Marilyn, the standard spelling, she reversed the y and the i for Marylin. It’s a connection to my mom, and now I appreciate that more and more. Which is why the Natl. Joe Day sounded like a fun thing to consider. And I came very close to including Ursula LeGuin’s quote, but I wasn’t sure how to make it work with trying the name Joe for a day, since that wouldn’t be a true name. 🙂
      Happy Easter to you and your family, Marian.

  7. This post made me think of Jo March from Little Women.
    I agree with the other commenters about giving children really weird names. It seems cruel to me. My parents gave me a name that’s not common, but it’s not a weird name. Strangely, my siblings’ names are all much more common names.

    In my family, we’ve given each other very strange nicknames though. 🙂

    • For a long time I was Mayno because my brother couldn’t say Marylin, and we still call our daughter Pinkie Two-Shoes and Mookie even though her children are now older than when Molly had those nicknames. I had a friend at church camp named Merril, and I thought it was a beautiful name, so you’re in good company.
      Jo March, of course! Such a good choice! 🙂

  8. Wow, I can’t believe I have my own day! Marylin, this is such a cute post. I love my name, always have, and just knowing there’s a JOE day makes me sing with joy.
    Those 2016 names are something else aren’t they? There are some names I’ve heard recently that make me shake my head in wonder. I’m glad my granddaughter has such a beautiful name.

  9. Joe is a big name in our family. We have lots of them. The thing about names (and I think people forget this) is that it has to roll off the tongue naturally. You have to be able to say it at the top of your lungs when you are angry or softly when you are cuddling. There are so many names today that are just ridiculous. I worked with a woman whose name was impossible to pronounce even for those who were with her everyday so we gave her a nickname. Wonder if that’s what her parents intended.

    • Kate, in 30 years of teaching, I had high school students whose names really made me wonder what their parents had been thinking. Boys especially sometimes were given names that seem to invite taunting, and even if they chose nicknames or used a middle name, there always seemed to be students who knew the real name and never let them forget it. Those are the boys I now wish could have borrowed JOE for a day and experienced a different, better day.

  10. What an interesting thought Marylin, to call yourself something different for a day. I was almost called Joanne – my parents assumed I’d be a boy so had decided on a boy’s name but were at a loss when I was a girl! They thought of Joanne after my grandmother, but changed their minds…so perhaps a day as Jo would give me a flavour of what might have been!

    • There’s a story in that somewhere, Andrea. Were you close to your grandmother? I have a friend who had one first name and two middle names because she was named for her mother (who died giving birth) as well as her maternal and paternal grandmothers who had both died prior to her birth. She called them her Name Angels.
      A flavour of what might have been ~ such a lovely phrase, Andrea.

      • I have only very vague recollections of that grandmother Marylin as she died when I was very young. And I don’t have any middle names, I guess it was hard enough for them to come up with one name 🙂

  11. Your post is a reminder that I have to call my friend whose last name is Joesph, but got shortened to Jo. Have a lovely weekend!

  12. This post made me think of my own name. It is more rare on birth certificates today than “Fenella.” There’s a Shirley Club I joined after I read this article in the WSJ.http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887323689204578571641355784234

    As I said in my memoir BLUSH, this name had a short shelf life, all stemming from the connection to Shirley Temple, once huge, then gone.

    Would I rather be Jo Ann than Shirley Ann? No. But like Merril above, I would definitely choose Jo March as my role model.

    • Jo March definitely has her own fan club, Shirley. I read an article once that said she did more for making girls want to become headstrong writers who knew the power of the pen than any other character.
      I was eight when I was given a real Shirley Temple doll with little pearl teeth and shiny curls, named for the little girl who grew up to be Shirley Temple Black and make a difference as a diplomat.
      I can see why you joined the Shirley Club! Thanks for the link. 🙂

  13. I always rhink of names on terms of onomatopoeia. e.g Ian. To me it mimics the sound of a racing car passing. Eeeeeeeeyyyyyyaaaaan.
    You might have fun thinking up names for sounds.

    • I’ll try that, Rod. I had a student in junior English class who lived and breathed onomatopoeias. He created daily short poems of only a few lines that amazed the class. Unfortunately, he didn’t do as well with essays and tests and daily assignments. 😉

  14. I definitely prefer the more traditional names over the ones you mentioned from 2015 and 2016…very odd. While in grade school, I was the only Jill. I always wanted to be a Kellie. 🙂 Happy Easter, Marylin! xo

    • You always wanted to be a Kellie, and I wanted to be a Katie. When I was growing up, Jill, all of my friends wanted to change their names at least once, and several chose frequent replacements. But as far as I know, none of them every legally made a change. Trying new names, even for a brief time, must be a rite of passage.
      Happy Easter to you, too, Kellie Jill! 😉

  15. I loved the sign with the girl sipping coffee. Made me laugh. My Nana would give me coffee when I was a kid…lots of sugar and milk. No wonder I can’t live without it. Such odd names too. Abcde?! I like the idea of pretending I’m someone else for a day. Great post, Marylin. Happy Easter ❤️

    • Just ask Gannon, Tracy. I’m a big coffee drinker, and when he goes with me to visit my mom (his great-grandmother) he talks me into giving him a cup of coffee. 1/3 coffee, 2/3 milk and sugar. 😉
      Happy Easter, Tracy!

  16. Jim

    EASTER SUNDAY morning, March 27, 2016 (also by coincidence “National Joe Day”): Joe assignment accepted.

    Joseph is one of my favorite saints. I went to a school named after him. I always admired how he accepted the mystery of the birth of a child he knew was not his own. He protected and nurtured that child always as a most loving father until the child was ready to enter public life. There seems to be no word in the Scriptures of what happened to Joseph after that (or else I missed it; then forgive me). He was not with Mary at the foot of the cross. That is where he would have been if he could. I can’t believe he would hide like Peter and the others. Maybe he had passed or was ill. May I assume illness and accept your challenge, sweetie? May I respectfully be Joseph on that first Easter morning?

    Joseph: I am so frail and sickly. I have to be tended by family. My heart is broken. They tell me Jesus was arrested. Misunderstandings about his Kingdom have resulted in his crucifixion unto death, preceded by unspeakable suffering three days ago. If only I could have been with him and Mary, at his side, at the foot of the cross. Dear God, what of the promise? Is all lost?

    And then family enters: Joseph! Joseph! There is more news. There is no Body! The tomb is empty! The stone moved. Herod and the Romans are desperate. There is unrest. Everyone is talking. The Romans say the Body was stolen and are searching everywhere. They find nothing. They will search here too. But Joseph, hear this. Those closest to Him have seen Him. Jesus lives!

    Joseph: I have no words nor need for words. There is only Joy in my heart that surpasses all understanding.

    Happy Easter, sweetie.

    • Oh, honey, this is stunning, touching and very real. Thank you, graduate of St. Joseph’s School, and a true Joseph-at-heart in your own life. We have all been truly and continually blessed to have our very own Joseph in our family. ❤

  17. When I came to the US almost forty years ago, it would have been so easy to change my name to Linda but I wasn’t Linda , I was Gerlinde .
    I have a dear friend named Joe, it’s a great name.
    I hope you had a wonderful Easter.

  18. I love the name Gerlinde, and I’m glad you didn’t change it.
    I hope your Easter was wonderful, too.

  19. My Easter was wonderful. I visited my family in Germany and prepared for an upcoming wedding in June. My niece is getting married.

  20. jakesprinter

    Good to see your beautiful content Marilyn am so much busy here ..I still love your blog … 🙂

  21. Jane Sturgeon

    My beloved Grandad was Joseph when he was here on the earth plane. He is always with me when I write and travel. Always encouraging me to write. Love you Marylin. ❤ Xx

  22. You have such a lovely way of expressing the blessings in your life, Jane, Your Grandad Joseph lives on: “He is always with me when I write and travel. Always encouraging me to write.” Love and hugs to you. ❤

  23. Molly

    Joe….Joe! Two very distinct thoughts come to my mind with that name. The first was my second Cabbage Patch kid, that you made for me! He was such a wonderfully behaved baby, and has aged very well! I loved playing with him and my first Cabbage Patch, Elizabeth. It has been fun to watch my kids play with the same babies!

    The second thing that comes to mind is someone who I thought had the same goals and passions for students. Unfortunately he turned out to be very hurtful and two-faced towards a program that was very near, and dear to my heart!

    It is amazing the way that names can evoke such feelings and memories. Both positive and negative!

  24. I have a clearer image (and clenched fists, too) of the second Joe over the sweet Cabbage Patch Joe. Why do we remember the bad more clearly than the good? Hmm. But the wonderful program you’ve created now is more important than anything. Love you lots and lots, Mookie! Mom

  25. Glee

    I continue to be amazed by the creative ideas you share. They always bring a smile to me and give me a new angle to view life. I understand why students had a waiting list for your classes. I know your mom loved writing as well and that she is so proud of you even if she can’t express herself now.

    • Aw, Glee, you are so sweet. Thank you, Cousin. In the next post, the couple I write about who had a fun April’s Fool joke were your parents. I hope I got the prank right; it was a long time ago, and I miss them. 🙂

  26. Many thanks for the inspiring blog you’ve created. Your enthusiastic take on the subject is definitely contagious. Thanks again!

  27. Very interesting information!Perfect just what I was searching for!

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