Archives for posts with tag: The Edwardian Era

​I should know by now that something amazing may be encountered at any time. Shopping is a particular activity that provides opportunities for random fascinating conversations. Once, among the treasures of a Macy’s purse sale, a woman noticed my subtle Phantom of the Opera T-shirt and struck up a conversation about the musical, different versions, Michael Crawford, Broadway in general, and eventually my obsession with all things Wicked. Best Buy was host to a chance conversation with a young army veteran who worked there. We both enjoyed exchanging tales of foreign travel and historical landmarks so much that he would subsequently spot me across the store and come over to resume our conversation, as if it hadn’t been weeks since our last encounter. And a handicapped man at Walmart once told me about his sad, courageous life, obviously a very rare occurrence, spurred into an unfamiliar need for a sympathetic ear after a car almost ran him down in the parking lot. A simple shopping trip can lead to memories that become woven into the fabric of daily life.

Yesterday, I stumbled into a conversation with a sales girl at Pier 1, while lamp shopping. As random discussion will, it started simply, with my love of art glass. Eventually it wound around to some of the cool glass I’m finding among my mother’s things, from Depression Glass, to antiques, to very old photographs. My century old badly faded image of my maternal grandmother, in Edwardian attire complete with a giant hat similar to the awesome ones I was dazzled by in the movie Howards End, tends to trump anything most people have in their family collections. Many modern families don’t even have more than a handful of old pictures, if that. The woman I met had what will probably be the greatest antique photograph story I’ll ever hear.

I mentioned that many people find my mom’s stories of her life fascinating, since she lived through so much history. When I said she was born just a few years after the Titanic sank, this articulate and intelligent young woman quietly stated that more than one of her ancestors were on the Titanic. One of them was a member of the orchestra that famously accompanied the doomed ship on her tragic swansong. A particularly poignant event that’s become a point of consternation among those deeply interested in the fated first and last voyage of the most famous ship in history was that the orchestra member’s wife was charged for his lost uniform. Imagine being informed that your beloved lost spouse’s company uniform must be paid for…as it was lost to the depths of the sea. These are parts of the story I’ve heard about in countless TV documentaries. It was breathtaking to talk about them as someone’s family memories.

People Who Died on the Titanic

Ah. Another instance of Twitter proving its worth for something more than promos, bizarre nonsequiters, and links to videos of kids, cats, and the never grows old excitement of exploding soda with Mentos. What is the plural of Mentos, by the way? Menti? Mentoses? Candies? But I digress. I followed a link to this awesome article on the equally awesomely titled Edwardian Promenade, about Edwardian baby names.

There are some gems there. From a  preGwyneth use of Apple to a list of some that Gomer Pyle might have called humdingers. After his eyes rolled back in his head, as he tried to pronounce a few, and promptly lost consciousness from syllable shock. All in one family that took name pretention to uncharted heights. Honestly, though, those unfortunate, if unique, childrens’ monikers prompted me to save that link.

I’m always on the lookout for character names. For me that’s a challenging, fun aspect of writing. It gets interesting, since I do both fiction and screenplays. What sounds right in my head for fiction may do the same for a screenplay. Initially. Then I try it out verbally and it just doesn’t work.

I fell in love with the English origin name Thane recently, but wasn’t sure how it’s pronounced. I wanted it to be pronounced as it looks–th sound and long a. I was afraid it was minus the th sound, so that even a long a couldn’t save it. Thane has an old English, courtly feel to it. My dreaded “Tane” wouldn’t do at all. It would make me think of a Dane, then Hamlet, and ruin the name/character match perfection. Fortunately, thanks to the cyber blessing of a Google search, it didn’t have to and I didn’t have to keep searching. I can’t tell you how disappointed I would have been to abandon the name that goes so perfectly with the character who chose it.

Sometimes it works that way. Sometimes I pore over baby name books or scroll through the names database in Trelby. That’s where I first saw Thane. I grew up in an area where British, Scotch-Irish (like my family) and apparently Welsh people settled in their treks so far west that they crossed an ocean and a good third of a continent, before they felt at home in their new world. There was a woman named Elwyn in my greater (meaning about a three mile radius in a farming area) community, a man named Esbert that was traced back to English nobility, and the mysteriously named neighbor, Mr. Erice. I’ve never figured that one out. It does not help that it’s pronounced Earsss, as if someone saying Ears spoke parseltongue.

So my names pool includes people I’ve known, people I wish I knew (the public figures and celebrities category), and people I’ll never know, like those long dead children whose parents liked big words and lots of them. I saw some names in that last group that immediately went into my mental file system. Exotic beauties such as Lyonella, Lelias, and Avelina. I imagine I’ll steer clear of the atrocities Ethelswytha and Fraudatifilias!

After all, when naming characters one wants to be memorable…but in a good way.