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A Rose by Any Other Name
Continued from page 1
by Cookie Curci
For instance, my grandmother used to tell me of a man called Paul, who had the habit of taking medicine every day. This daily habit earned him the name, "Paul take-a-medichine" (Paul takes medicine). Another young man, named Mario, who used to drink too much wine, soon earned the nickname "Mario Chooko" (Mario the drinker). Another man by the name of Frankie who was a heavy smoker was dubbed "Frankie Fuma" [Frankie smoke]. My grandfather, Antonio Curci, earned his nickname "The Raven" because he ate lunch every day at a cafe called The Raven's Inn.
"Don" when placed before a man's name was a show of great respect as was "Donna" when used before a woman's name.
Among Italian women, the name Rose was very common. Therefore, distinctions between the women had to be made. One of them, who had a bad temper and a needle sharp tongue, was called "Rosa the Vesp" (Rose, the wasp). Another Rose, who was very kind and thoughtful, was nicknamed "Santa Rosa" (Saint Rose). Rose who told fortunes and cast spells was known as "Rosa La Strega" (Rose, the witch).
In the world of entertainment, show business celebrities are regularly given nicknames: Sinatra-"Ol' Blue Eyes," Bing Crosby-"Der Bingle," Bob Hope--"Ol' Ski Nose," Elvis-"The King," Jimmy Durante-"The Schnozzola," John Wayne-"The Duke" and Humphrey Bogart is known worldwide as "Bogie."
Baseball great Joe DiMaggio held many nicknames during his career. He was known affectionately as "The Yankee Clipper" and "Joltin' Joe" by his adoring fans. Later he would earn yet another nickname because of his many TV commercials for a popular coffee maker. For many years, DiMaggio was known and beloved as TV's "Mr. Coffee."
Bestowing nicknames on our friends, family and favorite stars just comes naturally to us Americans.
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