What’s in a name?… ‘Atticus’ reconsidered

“In the years after Harper Lee published To Kill a Mockingbird in 1960, the beloved, moral patriarch Atticus Finch became a cultural icon. Some people were inspired to become lawyers because of Atticus. And some named their children after him…. So how do parents who named their kids Atticus feel [now]?…

“[When] John Edgerton and his wife Shelagh Kenney, both criminal defense lawyers in Durham, North Carolina, chose to name their son Atticus…  ‘It represented some ideals that both my wife and I believe in pretty firmly about how people should be, and how they should treat each other,’ Edgerton said. He certainly did not expect 72-year-old Atticus to say things like ‘The Negroes down here are still in their childhood as a people.’

“But while it’s sad to lose the starkness of the original’s Atticus righteousness, Edgerton said, ‘it also provides some depth that wasn’t necessarily there before. Real life is not at all black and white.’ He explained that once his son (now 8 years old) was born, he became the most important Atticus—whatever happens to Atticus Finch, Atticus Kenney will still be Atticus Kenney. ‘Once you have the real child in front of you, that governs your perception,’ Edgerton said. ‘Not what somebody wrote in a book.’ ”

— From “How Parents Who Named Their Kids ‘Atticus’ Feel About Learning He’s Now Kind of Racist” by Laura Bradley at Slate (July 13)

Atticus, though still uncommon, has been steadily climbing the given-name popularity chart.


Tonight’s forecast: 2 inches of link dump

— Sorry, Mr. Larsson, but Asheville readers prefer “Mayhem in Mayberry.”

— In Charlotte, Mark Twain flap has familiar ring.

— From a recently surfaced collection of Civil War pencil sketches (scroll down), 43 depicting North Carolina.

— “Firestarter” II?

Sunday link dump: No comics or Parade, but still….

Instead of (or in addition to) lamenting the shrunkenness of your Sunday paper, check out these digital destinations:

— Who knew that Charlotte as recently as 1931 was home to a post of the Grand Army of the Republic?

— Harper Lee, Margaret Mitchell, Ralph Ellison…  Jim Ross.

— Can’t see the Capitol for the trees? Here’s why.

— Preliminary pruning reduces North Carolina’s Civil War death toll to 36,000 tops.

— “Did German U-boat sailors see a movie in Southport during World War II?”

— Charlotte’s role in Solomon Burke’s  “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love.”

Weekend link dump: Books, bricks, Frying Pan

— North Carolina’s infamously swiped copy of the Declaration of Independence, which rated a chapter in “Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures,” graduates to a whole book in “Lost Rights: The Misadventures of a Stolen American Relic.” (Coming soon, a major motion picture?)

— UNC Chapel Hill historian Marcie Cohen Ferris and Durham author Eli Evans are among those weighing in on the question “Did Harper Lee Whitewash The Jewish Past?”

— Death noted: Alton Stapleford, creator of Kinston’s CSS Neuse II.

— Controversy over a dormitory at the University of Texas at Austin named for a Klansman recalls a similar issue at Chapel Hill.

— Can’t pass up a chance to mention Frying Pan Shoals, especially when the link includes such comments as “An offshore light that resembles a drill rig is not a prime sale item” and “One of the nice things about living in America is that an average guy like me can take on a half-crazy project like this.”