Ferris Wheel In The Sky Keeps On Turning

Ready yourselves because today’s funny/interesting/curious name isn’t chock full of vowels or silly sounds or alliteration. ‘Tis true. But it will honor today’s birthday boy (no, not John Travolta), the guy on the one dollar bill. So buckle up, because we’re about to go on a wonderfully spherical ride.

The dapper Dan above is George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., an American engineer and inventor, not to be confused with the other famous Ferris–Bueller, the sick-faking high school slacker in the 1986 film. As you can probably surmise, this Ferris is best known for creating the original Ferris Wheel for the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition, aka the World’s Fair, which celebrated the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival to the New World in 1492. We all know that rhyme, don’t we?  


Though he appears to be named after our first president, he was actually the junior to dad, George Washington Gale Ferris, Sr, a minister. The Senior Ferris founded Galesburg, Illinois. And isn’t that odd, considering Gale wasn’t even his last name? Gale is an uncommon male name. Remember Gale Gordon from The Lucy Show eons ago? I can tell you it’s not hitting the Top 100 Baby Names for 2019. But props for getting a city named after himself. Senior also founded Knox College, site of one of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. So, in more than one way, he was a founding father. And isn’t that nominative determinism in the best way possible?

Founding cities and colleges like a boss.

GW, Sr per Pinterest

What’s odd is that Junior had a brother 16 years his senior, named Frederick. Usually, it’s the firstborn son that holds the Junior title to the Senior. Nonetheless, he carried the name all his 39 years, in the same manner as did George Washington Carver, another inventor himself. Y’all remember how he promoted alternative crops like peanuts? You might not know he was kidnapped at a week old, though, but that’s a whole nother story.

Now back to Ferris! He proposed an awesome wheel that would “Out-Eiffel Eiffel” for the fair. And while the planners understandably feared his design might spill souls out all over the ground, he engineered and constructed a mighty fine wheel. It held 36 cars, each accommodating up to 60 people, giving a total capacity of 2,160. How is that even possible? When I rode the SkyWheel in Myrtle Beach, it only had 42 “gondolas.” No way it could hold 2000 folks. But this first Ferris Wheel did the unthinkable for 50 cents a person. By the time it was demolished in 1906, it had carried 2.5 million passengers!

And lest you think GW’s no longer walk amonst us, per http://www.howmanyofme.com, there are currently 926 people in the U.S. named George Washington. Have you ever met one?

Sadly, the legit George Washington never had children of his own, serving as stepfather instead. So there are no George Washington, Juniors in that regard. But his image lives on in both currency and silly internet humor.


Well, that’s it for today, folks! Enjoy your President’s Day!



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Ro Lady Lala Mara, First Lady of Fiji

Warmest winter greetings to you, BOFN readers! Today’s interesting name offers a plethora o’ vowels, reminiscent of a Hawaiian-themed Bing Crosby Christmas song. Join me as we shine a light Ro Lady Lala Mara, the wife of modern Fiji’s founding father, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara. Ratu means Chief, and Ro was the title she was given. Below is Castaway Island in Fiji. Isn’t it lovely?

While her husband was born with the amazing name of Kamisese Kapaiwai Tuimacilai Uluilakeba (which contains all the vowels save O), his wife’s name contained all of them except E. I advise some vocal warm-ups before attempting to say it: Litia Cakobau Lalabalavu Katoafutoga Tuisawau. That wouldn’t fit on a drivers license.

It’s a lot to take in. They are equally amazing names, no? However, in this era of #metoo and diversity, one is forced to choose the XX chromosomes to celebrate. And really, Lala Mara sounds like the first syllables a baby speaks. Infant gibberish. Lala Mara, Mama. Can you hear it? No disrespect, of course, to the Ro Lady.

Lala Mara had a reputation of wielding considerable influence on her husband. She was not playing. And she had plenty of time to assert that influence during many years of political power. Her husband served as Chief Minister of Fiji from 1967 to 1970, when Fiji gained its independence from the United Kingdom, then became the first Prime Minister from 1970 to 1992, and finally filled the role of president from 1993 to 2000. She herself was a Fijian chief, often representing Fiji abroad, and was active in the Great Council of Chiefs.

So it should come as no surprise that when a coup d’état deposed her hubs from his presidency, she had his back, pointing fingers at accusers. At the Great Council of Chiefs, she accused these “false prophets” of inciting racial strife and greed. They soon retired to his native island of Lakeba. Theirs was considered a dynastic marriage, as it united two powerful feudal families, and it stood the test of time, lasting 54 years, until Ratu Mara’s death in April of 2004.

During the grieving process, her son-in-law, Ratu Epeli (not to be confused with Epilady) Ganilau, was asked to step down as chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs. This unfortunate turn of events was thought to precipitate her own fatal heart attack, announced just three months after her husband’s passing. A one-year period of mourning ensued. RIP, Litia Cakobau Lalabalavu Katoafutoga Tuisawau.

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Chicken Alaska, Doesn’t that Sound Delicious? Anniversary Edition

Greetings Funny Names Fans! Today I’m celebrating a milestone—six years of contributing to this wonderful blog. So what better way to celebrate than revisiting my first post on the BoFN. Without further ado, take it away Fannie of six yester-years ago.

Chicken, Alaska, not to be confused with Baked Alaska, is a town of no large proportions and a delicious name.

There may be other cities in the US in which Chicken appears in their name, but none so elevated as Chicken, Alaska, located just north of the 64th parallel at 1,621 feet. Sandwiched between the the towns of Eagle and Tok (pronounced Tōk). I’m making no judgement here but the brownies may be delicious. Settled in the late 1800’s by gold seeking miners near the south fork of the 40-Mile River before the Klondike Gold Rush.

With a scarcity of food back then they took up eating the ample Ptarmigan, Alaska’s state bird, which looks something like a chicken. Not to be confused with the Pukeko of New Zealand, which also starts with a “P” and looks something like a chicken but I digress.

In the beginning residents wanted to name the town Ptarmigan but couldn’t agree on the spelling. Nor did they want the name of their fair town to be an embarrassment. So when they incorporated in 1902, they choose the name Chicken. They’ve made the most of it ever since.

Depending on who you ask, there may be between 6 and 37 year round residents. There’s no electricity (except by generator), no phones, no internet (they have a website but it’s managed outside of Chicken) and no central plumbing. I’ve used their public outhouse, the Chicken Poop. In the local vernacular, it’s a “four holer” and you don’t have to cross the road to use it.

Now this is the ultimate in marketing.

Now this is the ultimate in marketing.

The main street boasts The Chicken Post Office, Chicken Liquor Store, Chicken Saloon, Chicken Mercantile Emporium, (where I purchased a copy of Outhouses of Alaska, a must read for any outhouse user), and Chicken Creek Cafe, which I probably should have mentioned before the outhouse. They keep the mascot chickens between the cafe and saloon. However, there was no sign explaining which came first. . .

Some things you just have to see for yourself.

Some things you just have to see for yourself.

The colorful ceiling of the saloon is lined with burned undies and baseball caps. In questioning the bar tender, he demonstrated this feat with a small home made cannon and a fellow traveler’s cap. After stomping on the flaming cap, he attached it to the ceiling. I’m sure they’ve run out of room by now. (Update: They did remove all of the caps and underwear, not sure if they’ve started over again.)

To get the cluck to Chicken try traveling on the gravel paved Turner Highway, pot holes included for your driving pleasure. Then there’s the Chicken Airstrip, if you prefer to travel where Chickens don’t fly. I doubt they call it the Chicken Strip.

There may be fifty ways to leave your lover, but there's only two ways to get to Chicken.

There may be fifty ways to leave your lover, but there’s only two ways to get to Chicken.

For some fun reading, check out the Chicken Alaska Not So Frequently Asked Questions. It’s a hoot or is that a cluck?

Many thanks to Dave, Rob and Arto for inviting me to join the world of funny name appreciation.

Tracy – Fannie Cranium’s Guide to Irreverent Wisdom.

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Please consider donating to our founder, Dave, and his fight against a cancerous brain tumor, all while he goes to medical school to learn to fight the very thing he is battling.

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Greg McKegg – The Power of Rhyme

It’s good to be back here at the Funny Names Blog after a long pause. It is always a joy to bring news of the finest names of the most accomplished people to your screens. So let’s get straight to it!

Today, a classic for sports lovers – the great Greg McKegg.

His name always brings a smile to the sportscaster’s face. Even if we can’t see them calling his name, we know it makes them happy. I know it makes me happy.

McKegg is a forward playing hockey for the Carolina Hurricanes, a team named with the patented “worst thing that ever happened here” scheme also used by the Chicago Fire, the San Jose Earthquakes, and the Los Angeles Kardashians.

Playing with the number 42, the Hurricanes clearly identified Greg as the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Unfortunately he was apparently not the answer to winning games, as the team has not made the playoffs in nine years.

But once they do, we all know they will celebrate with a big party. A McKegger if you will.

So thank you Greg McKegg, and keep on chugging along.


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Teepa Snow, A Positive Approach

Greetings funny names fans! Welcome to a new year. Today we meet Teepa Snow. I first discovered Teepa on YouTube watching one of her training videos for dementia care. It was her name and her manner that attracted my attention—and her positive approach.

Here was this energetic woman demonstrating how to de-escalate a crisis with someone with dementia. It was beautiful. Goosebumps crawled up my arms. My eyes misted.

In one short video I learn how to care for my father when he felt out-of-control. Here is that video. Go ahead and watch it on YouTube, I’ll wait.

Welcome back.

How did she get there, according to her own website:

Teepa’s experience in neurological impairment care spans both her personal and professional worlds. Early in her life, her grandfather moved into her family’s house due to his changing abilities. However, at the time words such as eccentric then senile were used. Later on, she helped provide support for other family members with various forms of brain change. As a teenager, Teepa started by volunteering with a group in order to work with children with various developmental disabilities. This group included her much younger sister, who had developed an inoperable brain tumor by age three, leaving her with lasting severe developmental issues. By the time she started college at Duke University, Teepa had been a nursing assistant, before there was a certification, and a volunteer in day programs and hospitals near campus.

She earned her undergraduate degree in Zoology from Duke, but it was in 1978 when she entered the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill School of Medicine’s Program on Aging that set the course for the rest of her life.

Teepa is an occupational therapist by trade, but her insight and skills in working with folks with brain injuries, helped her develop her unconventional skills. She now travels the country teaching care givers how to positively give care, introducing more emotional support for the person with dementia.

She made it her mission to change the culture of dementia professional care and support not only in this country, but around the world. She supports the person with dementia and teaches others how to care for and celebrate what remains, no matter where they are in their decline. So the person living with dementia will still be seen as a person, not a J-O-B.

She has written several guide books and created several videos teaching how to care for people with dementia from the early stages to end of life. Several of her videos are featured on YouTube.

Let’s all raise a cup of cheer to the wonderfully named Teepa Snow and her positive approach.

To learn more about Teepa, visit her website here.

Tracy – Fannie Cranium’s Guide to Irreverent Wisdom

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Please consider donating to our founder, Dave, and his fight against a cancerous brain tumor, all while he transitions from medical school to his residency learning to fight the very thing he is battling.

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