When we were kids in the suburban wilds of Bath Township, Ohio, a family living nearby did something weird: they gave their standard-issue ’60s house a name. And not just any name, either. They called it “Don-Can-De-Mar,” the combination of the first few letters of the first names of each family member.
I was about 10, and I thought naming your house was the coolest idea ever. Why live in a plain, boring house, when you could live in a house with a name that sounded grand and exotic at the same time, like a foreign word?
It made me want to name our equally standard-issue ’60s suburban house, too. But the first name approach that led to the fabulous “Don-Can-De-Mar” wouldn’t work in our seven-member family. “Jim-Ag-Jim-Bob-Cat-Mar-Je” didn’t exactly roll easily off the tongue. So I tried to think of other approaches. We had an enormous rock in our front yard that Dad had tried to dig out but only managed to uncover, so I thought “Renbew Rock” might be a candidate. It had alliteration going for it, and a secret back story (with “Renbew” being Webner in reverse, of course). But it sounded too fake, like a name created using pig Latin, and I couldn’t think of anything else. Eventually I gave up, as kids usually do.
I don’t have any recollection of what “Don-Can-De-Mar” looked like, but I will never forget that near-mythical name. It’s a good example of the power of words.