Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

T is for Tomlinson

I think a lot about my last name. Not so much because I'm egotistical, or just because my name is basically "my brand." But I was aware from an early age that the Tomlinson branch of our family tree was goning to die out if my brother Rob did not have, as they used to say, "issue."

My father was one of three brothers. My uncle Hubert died when I was three years old, not long after he earned his medical degree. He was my father's baby brother, and my father would have been only 33 at the time. His and Hubert's mother had died when they were children and his father died the year before Hubert did, leaving my father an orphan in his early 30s. My father's half-brother, Jim, worked the family farm and died a bachelor. His middle name was Lee, which is also my brother's middle name, a name they both inherited from our grandfather.  My father's younger half-sister is only eight years older than I am and she has a son, but of course, his name isn't Tomlinson.

Tomlinson isn't that uncommon a name. There's an English actor named David Tomlinson who was in Mary Poppins.  There's football player LaDanian Tomlinson who used to play for the San Diego Chargers, whch enlivened the football season for me. (Basketball is my game.)  there's the writer H.M. Tomlinson and when I was a kid, I bought a couple of his novels just because it tickled me to see the name "Tomlinson" on my bookshelves.  I'm not related to any of them. Nor am I related to Ray Tomlinson, who created teh @ separator that makes email possible.

There are 43 different Tomlinsons with a Wikipedia entry, and that doesn't count Tomlinson Holman, an American film theorist and audio engineer who developed the world's first 10.2 sound system. I don't actually know what that is, but I'm always impressed by people who invent the "first" of something and I can only hope Tomlinson did not get beat up because of his unusual first name.  (My father's friends called him "Tommy" which would probably have been a good nickname for Holman.)


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