Last Friday we put out our annual Babies of 2008 special section. 263 bright and smiling faces graced 12 pages of this annual project.
The baby section is a labor of love to some degree. We started it back in the 1980s and today many of those beautiful babies are most likely grown and have children of their own. Sounds like something to research now that I say it.
Many parents were calling in late November checking to see when we would start accepting the baby photos. It is popular.
Popular and a very intense project to complete successfully.
For about six weeks our office staff is deluged by calls, emails and people coming in to either get their photo in or ask a question about the section.
Keeping all the information straight is important and very difficult at times. Used to be we could only handle black and white photo reproductions in the paper. Now we do color, and people either drop them off with the info or now they email them, or bring in a photo they have scanned or printed out on their color printer. With so many different originals to deal with it is amazing that most of the photos turn out as well as they do.
We measure success on the number of phone calls we don't get with this section. Unfortunately it can get tense when you are dealing with cute children's photos, proud parents and grandparents and names...oh, the names.
We had at least three different people look at the photo, compare the name with what was typed and make sure parent's names and birth dates were as submitted.
Some day we will bat a thousand...not this year.
We got our first call by about 3:30 p.m. Friday. We'd left an "N" out of a name which should have had two. Clearly our mistake and we worked through the problem with the parents. It hurts us to have mistakes in names. Many people only have their names in the paper a few times in their lifetime and it is so very important for us to get it right. Our second call came about an hour later from an upset grandparent who did not like the fact that in their opinion one of the parent's names was wrong. After checking with the parent in question it seems we did okay...still we do not like folks to think we purposely made a mistake in a name. We rely a lot on good faith that those submitting the information do it accurately and without any intent to upset things. I still remember fielding calls from parents of a young man who they swore was not the father of the child in the paper. Not sure if a test was ever done to clear up that fiasco.
My name is Tim...pretty hard to spell it different. Same goes for Bob my editor. That's a straight forward name, pretty hard to spell Bob in a unique fashion.
I have to hand it to many of the 526 "Parental Units," as my daughter calls them, for coming up with some very unique spellings and new names I have never heard of.
Some are quite cute, others inventive and yet others not my cup of tea. I'm not the one to please though. The parents bless their child with what they feel is a fitting name for them. One they can live up to. The issue with unique names is that over the course of a lifetime some children have to correct people in the spelling of their name over and over. Hopefully not to the point they feel that legally changing it is the only answer.
My wife and I jokingly talked about naming one of our children Polly for a girl or Tellie if it was a boy. So glad we didn't.
I guess if you look back in history and compare names from hundreds of years ago to what someone would consider a normal name today there would be quite a discrepancy.
It seems that just like technology we are on a fast-track to ever changing names and name spellings.
At least when Frank Zappa named his girl Moon Unit Zappa he didn't leave her with something too hard to spell. But he sure blew it when he named his youngest daughter Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen Zappa.