When Time Weighed Heavily Upon Me



1st November, 2016


Charles Dickens is reputed to have found the names for characters in his novels from obscure parish records.  I just found a list of my own in a drawer. I remember creating it about 4 years ago when I had time but no project. I had been in the USA traveling down an interstate highway when I noticed an off ramp sign pointing down a road toward a town, the name of which could have been someone’s first name. From there I considered state names which could conceivably be people’s surnames. (Now, nobody’s last name is “North Dakota” or “New Hampshire”, so all states that carried those names were eliminated. That left 40.) Then I got out a national road atlas and looked at the lists of town and city names printed with each map.

For my 40 selected states, I chose towns with names that could conceivably be personal first names and paired them with their state’s name. In each case, I chose one town with a woman’s name and one with a man’s. I admit that in 2012 I wasn’t thinking of man and man or woman with woman pairings. Were I to go back and do the project over, I’d adapt it.

I imagine (not envision) a project wherein short stories were composed using these names. The “first name” might imply something about the person of the character, based on the town, the name of which, he or she carries.  The last name would not be of import, except that the story could not be set in that state.  Hence, the story involving Quincy and Joy Illinois might be set in North Carolina or New Mexico.  The story involving Augusta and Hiram Maine might well take place in Texas.


Here’s the list:

Florence and Montgomery Alabama

Solomon and Hope Alaska

Gilbert and Bonita Arizona

Earle and Viola Arkansas

Julian and Kelsey California

Romeo and Aurora Colorado

Sharon and Sherman Connecticut

Ward and Roxana Delaware

AnnaMarie and Orlando Florida

Lester and Lilly Georgia

Honalo and Hamoa Hawaii

Franklin and Geneva Idaho

Quincy and Joy Illinois

Gary and Terry Indiana

Sheldon and Chelsea Iowa

Ada and LeRoy Kansas

David and Minerva Kentucky

Ethel and Wilmer Louisiana

Augusta and Hiram Maine

Luke and Unity Maryland

Beverly and Dennis Massachusetts

Alma and Lucas Michigan

Allen and Victoria Mississippi

Hiram and Livonia Missouri

Kevin and Verona Montana

Kent and Kelsey Minnesota

Humphrey and Primrose Nebraska

Johnnie and Jean Nevada

Lorraine and Brandon Ohio

Norman and Leia Oklahoma

Eugene and Minerva Oregon

Carlton and Delta Pennsylvania

Blaine and Norene Tennessee

Nolan and Diana Texas

Annabella and Garrison Utah

Rupert and Hortonia Vermont

Leon and Ivy Virginia

Everett and Ethel Washington

Sharon and Merton Wisconsin

Jackson and Hanna Wyoming


In an essay by James Thurber that I read some decades back, he strongly recommended AGAINST doing anything like this.  I guess I don’t take advice well.


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