Surprise! More than one fifth of our class possesses one of just four different names (and their variants)! This is based on a scan of The Eph Williams Handbook (aka the “look book”, as it was known at the area women’s colleges) for the Class of 1968.
The breakdown: At least 25 of us are, Bobs following closely by 23 Johns, along with 19 Bills and 13 Jims. (This tally does not include the unused first names of some, who are identified by initials in the Handbook.) Not surprisingly, the names of the presidents of Williams College also reflect the traditional bias toward three of these once favorite male names: 3 Johns (including Jack Sawyer during our undergraduate days), 1 William, and 1 James.
Yes, Bob, John, Bill, and Jim were hot names in parental circles in 1946. And, looking backward to the decade fifty years prior to the sixties, the names John, William, James, and Robert also took the top four spots, according to the Social Security Administration. (For our classmates of the opposite sex during our childhood years, the most popular names were Mary, Linda, Barbara, and Patricia, according to SSA’s decade statistics.)
Compare the list of most popular boys’ names at the time of our births to those of today (according to SSA, from 2015 data): Noah, Liam, Mason.
One expert has suggested that having a popular name may link a child to that time period, and may increase the person’s risk of becoming the target of ageism later in life. Are we-the Bobs, Johns, Bills, and Jims of the Class of 1968-now, wittingly or unwittingly, victims of this vicious syndrome?
At our 50th, if you can’t remember the name of what’s-his-name that goes with that (more or less) familiar looking classmate who’s not wearing his nametag, just try calling him Bob (Rob, Robert), John (Jack), Bill (William), and/or Jim (James). Worth a try.