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Bobbie Null vs. Barbara A. Whittington

I often wonder what's in a name. My name from the time I was born until I was 18 was Bobbie Ann (Null). Barbara was shortened to Bobbie by my father, so I'm told. I never knew my dad as he died when I was two years old. A story for another time!

After I left West Virginia to move with my husband to Cleveland for a job, my new friends there seemed to think Bobbie was a funny name for a new wife and mother. Bobbie Ann even more so. 

Where I was from having two names was common - down in the hills - and more often than not you were called by those two names. Bobbie Ann, Donna Sue, Ella Louise - myself and two of my sisters. Mother often said all of those names at once when referring to us, especially IF she wasn't happy with us!

When I started back to college, I gave my name as Barbara and from that time on, it stuck. As I began to be published I kept that name as my byline. The name felt more professional and adult. (What did I know?) I finally learned we are not our names. Jeez!!!

As I got older I started wondering what was behind all the name changing.  What was I trying to say? Why did I suffer so much discomfort at being called the name I grew up with?

Who was I really? Who did I want to be? Was I running away from something or wanting to be someone other than who I really was? I suspect the answer might be yes. I'll need to do more pondering on that one.

What's in a name, really? Do we think we can get away from our past by changing our name as we head into our future? 

Whatever the reason for the name change, I have now come full circle. My past has met my present and I am fully comfortable being called Bobbie or Bobbie Ann, which is what my family down home have always called me anyway. They didn't care what city people thought. Bobbie Ann was Bobbie Ann and my friend Billy Joe was Billy Joe. A name is a name and that's that!!!

Both names feel good now, comfortable, but especially Bobbie Ann. It fits like an old coat. Or better yet, like the soft chenille robe I once had that I used to snuggle up in on cool fall evenings and watch the Andy Griffith show. Yes, that is REAL comfort. Coming back to oneself.

How about you, do you have a name you were once called and then felt it no longer fit as your circumstances changed?

Did you have a nickname? Or a name you hated? Or loved? Let me hear about it! Thanks! And bless your heart for stopping by.

PS Remember my novel Vada Faith is at Amazon waiting for you to come on over and take a look at her. Read some of the reviews left by my readers. Friends and strangers alike seem to like Vada Faith.  To tell you the truth, I still like her too.


  1. I like Bobbie Anne.

    I was labeled Sheila Gail but one grandmother had trouble saying sheila so I morphed into Gail. When I filled out my employment papers for the government there was a statement at the bottom that said, 25 years in prison or/and $25000 fine for not telling the truth. Then I became Sheila Gail again but shall always be called Gail.

    1. I feel through the years I've morphed into many people. SO many roles to fill. Somehow now at this age I just want to become who I'm meant to be, whatever the name. I guess in the end we go back to the beginning. Bobbie feels right. Blessings.

  2. When I was a kid, if someone called me by my first and middle names, it meant I was in serious doo-doo. My mother sometimes called me Suzabelle, and I kinda grumbled about it, but I secretly loved it. My hubby used to call me Hot Rod, and I think that's my all-time favorite nickname. (Um, I don't think I'll use it as a byline, though.)

  3. My father always called me Terra-bell. I hated it, He did it to tease me nicely but I always cringed. Other than that,no nick names:)) I love yours!

  4. Does that mean I can't call you Barb anymore? I think names are how we first see people or know people. To me, you're Barb. I don't think I could ever see you as a Bobbie. Is that okay?
    My name is Elizabeth, after my grandmother, but because my mother didn't want me to be a Lizzy, my family always called me Betty. Then, when I moved in fourth grade, I wanted to be introduced as Elizabeth in school, so all my school friends eventually called me Lizzy after all, which is now Liz. I love both names, one is childhood and family; the other is the me that I defined. I just have to remember who I'm sending a card to at Christmas and sign it the right way!

  5. I love the name Bobbie Ann! I shall call you that from here on out!

    My name is Diane Sue but oh, how I wished it was Diane Suzanne when I was growing up! I have a friend who was Suzy all through high school and college but now, she signs all letters, cards, and emails "Suzanne." And another friend who we called Marcie all through college now calls herself, "Marcelle." I definitely think you're on to something with this name thing, Bobbie:)

  6. I love Bobbie Ann! I've been called different names down through my life. My father in law used to call me Jam Up. I don't know why. I had a friend who used to call me Janie. I have a cousin named Joy. A few years ago at our family reunion, she handed me their 'family tree' info that I had requested. She saw me looking at it kinda funny. She said I bet you didn't know my name was Laura Frances, did you? I sure didn't, she'd always been Joy to me.Seems Joy was the name her dad had given her when she was little and it stuck.


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