Saturday, September 6, 2008

What's in a name?

David Lewis had an entertaining column about factory nicknames in The Flint Journal last month. It made me wonder if Flint, in addition to an unusually high ratio of bars to people, also had predilection for nicknames as well:

"The nicknames were as unique and varied as the people who wore them. Back then, a lot of people came from all over the country to work for GM. We had Tex, Minnesota, Alabama and so many Arkies that we had to distinguish them further to keep them straight. (Are you talking about Arkie the booth cleaner or Arkie the millwright?) Hairstyles of the '60s and '70s gave us Shag, Hippie Jim, Q-Ball, Burrhead and Butch, and military service spawned Sarge, Captain and Paratrooper Tony.

"Some guys had real names that brought to mind the Johnny Cash song "A Boy Named Sue." These guys transformed into Boots, Abe, Toe and Wink. But for reasons totally unknown to me, Randy was called Frank. I even worked for a while with a man called Tater, which I naturally assumed was his nickname but later found out that it was indeed his real name.

"Some names were self-explanatory, such as Big Al, Big John, Shorty and Slim, along with Whiskey, Wine and Redeye, who, by the way, were quite the characters. There were Dink, Skeeter, Preacher Dick and Bones. Troll, Hoggy, Mole and Twitch. Redline, Scruffy, Jesus and Pops. Tweety Bird, Lightbulb, John Deere and Farmer (the only person who could make me laugh until I cried each and every time)."

From my circle of Flint friends, I offer up...Sparky, Pear Dog, Stinkle, Frazzle, Slam, Eagle, Slammy, Trudie, Slamchop, Pear Dog, Dollar Bill, Perry Stinkle, Mahorn, PerryWinkle, and Fari Sailor.

1 comment:

  1. I know Flintoids think we have alotta bars, and we do but I gotta say we pale in comparison to Missoula, Montana and Danville, Illinois not to mention dozens of other midwest sh**holes like Kenosha, Anderson, Jackson, etc etc ad infinitum. All hail the volumionous party stores of Big G.R., the liquour stores of Duluth, and the "behind bulletproof glass" mini-marts of Gary. Unity.
    Anybody up for a road trip to Dayton/Cincinnati, Lousiville, and Evansville? Daddy Needs a 40 of Falls City Beer something fierce.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at