Nickname As defined by Wikipedia, “A nickname is “a usually familiar or humorous but sometimes pointed or cruel name given to a person or place, as a supposedly appropriate replacement for or addition to the proper name”, or a name similar in origin and pronunciation from the original name. It can also be a shorter version of the original name.”
A fellow blogger recently asked me how I got my nickname, she wanted to know if it was because I was a “ham” radio operator, or whatever. I responded to her, and explained quite briefly how I came upon the nickname. She in turn suggested I share the story of my nickname, so having thought about it, I now will subject you to how I became “Ham.”
I am 63 years old, and during the course of my life I have had 3 nicknames; Camelskin, Red, and Ham (plus the variations on Ham). Camelskin was by far the most unique and I don’t believe to this day have I ever heard on another child having this nickname. I obtained this nickname while in the third grade in Easton Maryland. And it stuck to me until I moved out-of-town at the end of the 4th grade. I never liked it, not from the 1st time I was referred to as “Camelskin,” I was offended by it, and only learned to accept it after much taunting, and several minor altercations. As a third grader I manned up, and accepted the fact that my friends found a name for me, and that they were going to call me “Camelskin” until I stopped reacting so poorly to it. LMAO, well I stopped acting poorly, but the kids in the neighborhood never stopped calling me “Camelskin.” I am so very happy we moved from Easton, because the thought of be called “Camelskin” by friends some 50 + years later is indeed quite annoying. During one of many confrontations about the nickname, I distinctly remember asking the guy I was having the confrontation with why he and the other kids called me Camelskin. He replied that it was because of my hair and skin. Folks I was a runt, with red hair and a ton no actually two tons of freckles. How they got camelskin from that I have never figured out. It wasn’t like there were camels in the neighborhood, and no one had color TV, and even most the movies we went to were in black and white, so how the jump was made to camelskin I will never know. But it stuck, and so after fighting about it , we got up and when and played ball or rode our bikes, or whatever, until the next time we had a confrontation. Until I finally just sucked it up and learned that as long as I lived in this neighborhood, with this set of friends (because they were friends), and because back then you could have a fight with a guy and still be friends, my name was CamelSkin! Smiling, but again I am sure am glad I didn’t have to go thru Jr High, and High School with that nickname.
My 2nd nickname was “Red,” this one was easy to figure out. I had Red hair. And I mean bright, almost dayglow redhair as a kid. I don’t know if in reality I can even refer to “Red” as a nickname. Everyred headedboy since, well Christ, has been called “Red” at one time or another, so this was never a big deal. Throughout my entire youth, I can’t remember a single time when “Hey RED” was yelled out, that the person doing the yelling wasn’t talking to me. Not once did I hear, not you, the other redhead. I said earlier that it wasn’t a big deal and it wasn’t, I was never offended by being called Red. Well once maybe when Dad screamed “Redheaded one” at me, but I figured he was so mad he forgot my name.
Finally my lasting nickname “Ham”. It is the 1st three letters to my last name Hamilton. Originally it started off as “Hammie”. It was given to me by a young lady named Gilihia during the summer between my Sophomore and Junior years in High School. I was 16 at the time I met Gilihia, and she was no more than 14. She was the girlfriend of a very very good friend named Mike. I was just introduced to her, and she immediately called me “Hammie.” That name stuck to me like throwing peanut butter against a wall. From the moment she christened me “Hammie” it became my calling card. Thru Mike, I became very close to her parents and brothers, and her group of friends. She introduced me as “Hammie” to anyone and everyone that we encountered. When Gilihia set me up for a date, I was introduced as “Hammie.” I remember one time I was on the third date with a cousin of Gilihia’s. The young lady turned to me, looked me dead in the eyes, and asked “What is your real name?” I told her, and she replied “I like Hammie better.” As Gilihia became more entrenched in Mike and my group of friends, her references to me as “Hammie” transferred to my group of friends as well. From my friends, it gain further strength, and like a storm coming in transferred to my High School. In high school it was deemed a quite appropriate nickname, given the fact that I was a smart ass, a ham, a PIA, a loud mouth, and sometime trouble maker, as well as, quite disruptive. Sometimes I was even labeled class clown, though I was never officially given that title.
Over the years, Hammie has taken on different forms, I have been called: Hambone, Hammer, Hammy, HamTheMan, Hamhock, and assorted other variations of the name Hammie. In April 1969 I joined the Navy. I made it thru bootcamp and A School without a real need to use my nickname. Besides they called you anything but your name in Boot Camp, and during A School, I was called Sailor, though a few times I was called Red. My 1st duty station was Guantanamo Bay Cuba, the very first day I reported for watch, the Chief of the Watch, asked me what my nickname was and I said “Hammie,” I immediately got a long sideways look from the Chief, to which I said, Chief my nickname is “Ham!” It’s been Ham ever since. Smiling I will admit that some of my female friends, and especially those in the neighborhood I live refer to me as Hammie. I have no need or desire to have them think it’s anything else. To this day I use Ham as my nickname, and I use it in every screen name I have. Currently I use a version of Ham for my blog “FlaHam.”
When I was 1st tasked to write about my nickname it was also suggested I throw in a bunch of stuff about being a class clown. I seriously considered it when I outlined this in my head, but realized if I were, being as wordy as I am, this post would have been over 3,000 words. LOL ! Talk about bedtime material. Maybe someday I will address those years.
As always your comments and suggestions are welcome. Please take care, Bill.