In a fit of nostalgia I googled my childhood hometown weekly, the Mt. Pleasant (Pa.) Journal, for reassurance that it has survived the world's catastrophic problems, not to mention the Pittsburgh Steelers. It's now in its 141st year as the paper of record for the townsfolk who were dutifully reported in its chatty columns to have "traveled over hard-surfaced roads" to visit friends, or of families whose kids were off to college. The paper had a calming spirit about it upon its arrival at our house, reporting all that was not libelous, prurient or seriously divisive in the town that bordered the Standard Shaft coal mines within walking distance of our back door.
But the mines are down now and other changes have taken over, including the replacement of the high school football team's nickname of Bobcats with Vikings. The team, we learned, must be a powerhouse, having most recently destroyed Charleroi 71-14. But more interesting to this visiting reader were the names of some of the players. Shockingly to me, their first names were Trevor, Josh, Brian and Aaron.
A long time ago, those would have sounded quite bizarre. The boys were best known, for starters, as Peck, Cheesie, Bib, Hicker, Toomek, Kushbug, Fuszju, Scroogie, Peeny, Scratchy, Isher, Ziggy and, brutally, Shakey. Some of my contemporaries mockingly referred to me as Boozite in homage to a disheveled geeezer who sat on his stoop and glared at us as we passed his way edto school.
That said, I've always wondered why none of the girls had nicknames. They remained Mary, and Evelyn, and Peggy and Thelma from sunup to bedtime. A couple of the girls who were kicked out of summer camp for misbehaving after hours soon earned names that you couldn't repeat in front of your mother.
As for Boozite, I never complained. Most of the other kids were bigger than I, and the nickname was sort of a rite of safe passage to their club.