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Two of the toughest decisions I've made

by Matt Harvey

ASST. MANAGING EDITOR

I found naming my two sons among two of the toughest decisions I've made.

My wife and I struggled for the better part of each of her pregnancies trying to figure that out.

For one thing, we saw pitfall after pitfall.

It's tempting to pick a first name -- and even a first name and a middle name -- after someone who's famous at the time.

But be careful.

For instance, giving a child the first name Richard and the middle name Nixon might have sounded like a good idea in 1970, but blossomed into a really bad one a few years later.

Or take any of the Bee Gees. Naming a kid after one of those disco kings might have seemed pretty cool in the 1970s. Then again, shirts open to the navel -- and lots of gold chains -- seemed pretty cool then, too.

Picking from some of the most popular names of the time also is a popular choice. I'll bet teachers who have three kids with the same first name in one class aren't real fond of this practice, though.

Settling on a name that both parents like can be tricky, too. We really struggled here.

In the end, we decided on first names that had come from our ancestors.

They died a long time ago, so we didn't have to worry about the potential for them getting a bad name; if they didn't have one by now, they weren't going to get one. We also liked the names.

That may have been a cop-out instead of coming up with something "original," but believe me, we tried -- and, to borrow the old ad slogan -- just couldn't do it.

I guess the most important thing is whether the kids like their names. We haven't gotten any complaints from them -- at least not yet.


After I erred by saying John Marshall of Virginia was the first U.S. Supreme Court chief justice, a lot of people set me straight, including Harrison County Chief Circuit Judge John Lewis Marks Jr.

But a week or two after initially pointing out my mistake -- which I mentioned in a previous column -- Marks was thoughtful enough to find a list of all the chief justices. He obtained the list from the electric law library of the U.S. Supreme Court.

According to the printout from the high court, John Jay of New York was the first chief justice, serving from 1789-95.

The printout also listed the other chief justices (in order of service): South Carolina's John Rutledge, Connecticut's Oliver Ellsworth, Marshall, Maryland's Roger Taney, Ohio's Salmon Chase, Ohio's Morrison Waite, Illinois' Melville Fuller, Louisiana's Edward White, Connecticut's William Taft, New York's Charles Hughes, New York's Harlan Stone, Kentucky's Frederick Vinson, California's Earl Warren, Virginia's Warren Burger, and the current chief justice, Arizona's William Rehnquist.

Interestingly, only Warren and Rehnquist were from west of the Great Divide.

The list also indicates the religion of the chief justices: Episcopalian, Church of England, Congregational, Roman Catholic, Unitarian, Baptist, Methodist, Protestant, Presbyterian and Lutheran.

Marshall had the longest term, 34 years, followed by Taney with 28 years and Fuller with 21. All of the former chief justices are deceased except for Burger, who was born in 1907. Only Burger and Rehnquist were born in this century (Rehnquist in 1924).

Oh, and by the way: The list also had the names of all the associate justices who have served on the Supreme Court. One of them was Bushrod Washington. Going back to given names -- now there's a unique one!

Assistant Managing Editor Matt Harvey can be reached at (304) 626-1442 or by e-mail at mharvey@exponent-telegram.com