Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations


Posted June 8, 2009

What’s your nickname? I think it’s time to award a prize to the person who comes up with the best nickname and story behind the name. I’ll send a copy of Ed Southern’s book Voices of the American Revolution in the Carolinas to the winner.

War history is full of fascinating nicknames. In Ed’s book you will read about “Bloody Ban” Tarleton, a British officer who outraged Carolina settlers with his penchant for violence and revenge. “Light Horse” Harry Lee earned his nickname for some brilliant guerilla tactics during the Revolutionary War. Patriot fighter Frances Marion was known as the “Swamp Fox” for his elusive nature during battle. My favorite Revolutionary War figure was Daniel Morgan, a rugged frontiersman known as “The Old Wagoner.”

The Civil War also produced a number of interesting nicknames including “Stonewall” for General Thomas Jackson. General Ulysses Grant was nicknamed “useless Grant.”

Nicknames in the modern era can add a layer of celebrity to an individual’s persona. On this day in 1964, a young man from Hertford, NC gained a concocted nickname that stuck and stayed with him for life. Perquimans County pitching ace Jim Hunter signed a $75,000 bonus baby contract with the Kansas City A’s. The owner of the team thought Hunter needed a nickname. Charles Finley fabricated a tale about Hunter running away from home at age six to go fishing. Thus, “Catfish” Hunter was born.

I’d love to hear your stories about nicknames.


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  • MarineMom Jun 11, 2009

    My dad used to call us "SugarPig". I don't know where he got the name from but we (my sisters)were always his little sugarpigs.

  • kathyturner Jun 10, 2009

    Well Bill, this is not my nickname but the nickname I gave my grandfather when I was very small. Jim Buddy - very simple explanation...his name was Jim and he was my buddy. Jim Buddy is no longer with us but he is still fondly referred to as Jim Buddy by many.

  • tarhillmom Jun 9, 2009

    This is/was my husband's nickname in our old neighborhood--"Skiffy" One night years ago we were playing Trivial Pursuit with neighbors. My husband read aloud a question about a "sci-fi" character and obviously he pronounced it wrong!!!

    My son had the nickname "Pickle" as a baby. He seemed to always have an ear infection and the doctor had us boil water and add white vinegar, let it cool, and then drop it into his ears. Seemed to work, but he really did smell like pickles.

  • tarheelmom2 Jun 9, 2009

    My nickname came from my granddaughter. I called her "Punkin" and when she was beginning to talk, she tried to call me the same but it came out "Punka" so that's my nickname now. That's one you don't hear every day!

  • CricketGayle Jun 9, 2009

    I was given the nickname Cricket after a character that Connie Stevens originated on "77 Sunset Strip" and continued in "Hawaiian Eye". She was a favorite of my grandfather's so he began calling me Cricket as a little bitty girl and I've been Cricket ever since.

  • marywag Jun 8, 2009

    Hi Bill, well my nickname isn't as famous as some of the ones you mentioned!!! It is "Doodle-bug" Dude for short or Dood!! Daddy came up with our nicknames when we were little, saying all of us came from the barnyard!! Older brother is "Rick the Rooster", younger brother, "Goat-Head" (you can guess why) and little sister is "Squirrel"! Not sure this is what we were wanting, but I thought you would get a good laugh!!

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Bill Leslie