Freckle-Faced Names: Polly, Peggy & Penny
There’s a certain species of girls’ names that we’ve referred to in our books as freckle-faced, pigtailed and button-nosed: they’re the kind of character names inhabited by Shirley Temple as a curly-haired moppet, and Judy Garland as a wide-eyed, innocent teen, as well as starring in dozens of old popular songs. Basically nickname names that have long stood on their own, none can be found any longer in the current Top 1000 — though one of them ranked as high as Number 31 in the 1930’s.
They’ve been gone a long time, but they still project a lot of spunk, and so, with the revival of nickname names in general we’re wondering if any of these could get their youthful mojo back.
We’re talking about:
Gone since 1995; Highest rating: Number 228 in 1959
Betsy originated as a combination of other classic pet forms of Elizabeth—Betty, Beth and Bessie, and makes appearances in two Dickens novels—Pickwick Papers and David Copperfield. The ‘B’ Elizabeth nicknames were superseded by the ‘L’ ones– Liz, Lizzie, Liza and Lisa— but maybe now might be the time for a switch back.
Gone since 1975; Highest rating: 52 in 1936 and 1941
Gone since 1989; Highest rating: 31 in 1937
Peggy, a pet form of Margaret, is the one that’s climbed the highest of all these names. Perky and pure, Peggy was the perfect date for the prom—in 1953. In later decades it’s been traded in for Maggie.
Gone since 1987; Highest rating: 86 in 1963
Gone since 1977; Highest rating: 225 in 1881
Polly, together with Susie, has been gone the longest, having peaked 130 years ago. Though livelier than Molly, Polly never achieved the comeback that her cousin did, perhaps because she sounds too Pollyanna-ish.
Gone since 2005; Highest rating: 52 in 1939
Gone since 1988; Highest rating: 68 in 1881
Some others that could be included:
Becky – off since 1992, peaked at 102 in 1959
Billie—off since 1997, peaked at 79 in 1929-30
Ginny—off since 1982, peaked at 632 in 1958
Kitty— off since 1966, peaked at 375 in 1887
Lizzie—off since 1959, peaked at 62 in 1882
Mamie—off since 1966, peaked at 53 in 1888
Margie –off since 1982, peaked at 96 in 1933
Patty—-off since 1978, peaked at 140 in 1959
Rosie—off since 1982, peaked at 114 in 1910
Trudy—off since 1978, peaked at 238 in 1946
Winnie –off since 1957, peaked at 162 in 1881
And a few of that have stayed the course:
Gracie—now Number 115
Josie— now Number 314
Katie— now Number 143
Maggie—now Number 232
Molly— now Number 92
Do you think any of the long-gone ones could make a comeback? Would you ever use one?