When we were babies our parents picked a couple of syllables that would become our name. They put thought into it, and we hear our spoken name nearly every day. I’ve heard it said our names and nicknames are often the sweetest sound we can hear.

My parents told me I was named after our neighbor’s daughter. There was a time when I questioned my mother’s memory, for I thought Mrs. Hug became our neighbor years after I was born. But I found a baby card sent to my family at the time of my birth, and Mrs. Hug’s note confirmed I was named after her daughter Marlene.

Her note on the back of the baby card reads: “I was so glad when the girls came over and told me about their little sister but I guess I wasn’t the only one they were really tickled about it just what they wanted a baby girl. Marlene will be thrilled when she finds out that you named it after her. I told the girls when they came over and told me about it that will make a nice Xmas present and they said that’s what Marcia said when she was putting up the Xmas Tree. You will be home now for Xmas you knew just when to go you had that arranged purty nice. I hope everything goes well with you and the baby take good care of yourself. Mrs. Flora Hug.”

My family spent a lot of time with Mrs. Hug, and as an adult I realize every child should have a Mrs. Hug in their life. When I texted her name to my sister, the hug emoji appeared. It never occurred to me – her name was Mrs. Hug. I wonder how many cookies she made for her family as well as the neighborhood children. Not many people can say their neighbor lady made sugar cookies with sliced gum drops in them. Not many people can say their neighbor lady kept a cookie jar right there on the kitchen table. 

We lived just a few steps away from our neighbors – but they placed their greeting cards to us in the U. S. mail – probably knowing the joy children experience when there is a piece of mail with their name on it.

She signed her name as Mrs. Flora Hug. Flora means ‘flower’ in Latin and was a top 100 name in the 1880s and 1890s, but gradually descended until it finally fell off the list in 1972.

There are times I have heard another’s first or last name poked at a bit or made fun of, and it tugs at my heart. There are lots of wonderful ladies who were given the beautiful name of Karen, and many of us know that name has somehow taken on a new meaning. Our name is who we are, and it is a precious gift to us. How ironic they have the word ‘care’ right in their name.

I imagine most of us are overdue on spending time with friends. We may feel the need, now more than ever, to reconnect with those we knew long ago, and quite frankly, with those who live next door. If we do not know the story of where our friend’s name came from, it would be a fun conversation.

Perhaps we know someone who needs a card from us – with our name on the upper left corner and their name in the middle of the envelope, delivered by the U.S. mail. Maybe the note we send will include our thoughts about their name.

As I sort through old Edgerton Earth newspapers, I am finding pictures of neighbors and relatives, and I hope to find more. I cannot believe I do not own a picture of Mrs. Hug or the Gabriel girls.

In my own box of saved stuff, I found a letter and poem Cora Beerbower had written to me. I didn’t spend time with Cora for she was close to ninety years old when I was a child. She was the lady who lived in the corner house and came to the door in a dress and apron. Her hair was combed back with a straight, flat style, and she smiled as she spoke.

I would have gladly accepted an invitation into Cora’s home – but the relationship I had with her was simply the dropping off and picking up of papers between her and my mother.  My red bicycle, with its white wicker basket, was parked on her sidewalk long enough to have a paper-exchange kind of meeting.

Cora often called on the phone to speak with my Mom about the historical society. I knew her voice, and I knew her name – a name I was fond of. Another lady in Edgerton was named Sadie, and I loved her name also. Something old becomes new as we hear of babies named after those who were given the same names in the late 1800s.

We have entered the roaring twenties once again, and I pray the roar we begin to hear is a roar for freedom – for sugar cookies in the cookie jar; for families to return to gathering for reunions and fun times; for playgrounds that never again experience a closure; for dancing and singing wherever we want; for the correct books and information in our hand so we may understand what is truly going on in this world; for people to meet together, rise up and study, organize, and prepare for how to best help others survive this time in history; for adults, especially our men, to recognize and stand up to tyranny; for the cease of ad hominem responses; for magnificent hugs; for our breathing to never be restricted again; for wonderful handshakes and kisses planted firmly on our cheeks. That is not too much to ask.

And quite frankly, my biggest prayer is very specific – for mankind to know what the flu is and is not. What a virus is and is not. What a virus can and cannot do. What germ theory is and where it came from. How the body stays healthy and is capable of healing itself when given what it needs. The information is there – we simply need to read it and pray for wisdom.

Our freedom to enter restaurants, and coffee shops, and nursing homes, and spend time with friends who have beautiful names, crazy thoughts, and weird ideas is an inalienable right.

I wonder if Mrs. Hug realized she was blessed with a first name that means flower and a surname you would think means ‘hug.’ But her last name means ‘intelligence,’ and I would have to agree she was a rather smart lady.

She let the children play in her yard – baseball of all things. She never discouraged us from our play, but actually called us into her home and let our hands find their way to the stack of cookies in the cookie jar. 

Since most of us will not go through life with a name like Mrs. Hug, we may have to settle on being a friend who knows all about giving good hugs, and sending cards, and living a simple, old-fashioned, gum-drops-in-the-middle, no sanitizer required, way of life.

Mrs. Hug’s note which let me know my mother’s memory was correct – I was indeed named after Marlene Hug Alter.
This was the best picture I could find of Mrs. Hug’s house and the east yard where we played a lot of ball. When you enlarge the photo of the two little Indians, you can see their outfits were shorts with a washcloth folded over the waistline. It appears their faces were painted – so they probably had some help from their sisters in achieving such an authentic look. Don was showing Darrell how to use a bow and arrow made from sticks and string. Do you suppose Mrs. Hug went to her door so she get a better look at her blond Indian neighbor boys?
Cora Beerbower’s letter to me – dated February of 1974. Cora was a teacher and in her retirement years, she was Edgerton’s librarian. She was a writer and known as one of Edgerton’s historians. I found Cora’s Edgerton Library scrapbook in my mother’s estate. If Cora were my librarian, I know at least two book titles I would ask for her to order.