It is my real name. The name I never use on my blog.

For most of my life, I was certain that I was named for Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz, the classic that now celebrates its 77th year. It was released in August of 1939.


Dorothy Gale. The Wizard of Oz.

I arrived in the 50’s, in early December.

Every year, just before Christmas, Oz was released in movie theaters for a single showing.

I never missed it. It was my guaranteed birthday gift.

Decades later, my mother revealed that she wasn’t thinking of Oz when she picked my name. There was a personal connection.

It was the name of her best friend, a lovely lady known as Dot.

It was also the middle name of her only sister, my most-loved aunt.

I was never fond of the name, it always seemed so old-fashioned. To make matters worse, when it came time to pick a middle name, a Catholic tradition that occurs during the year of Confirmation, I looked to the patron saint of the day of my ceremony.

I chose Agnes.

Not a soul outside of my family knew this until I went to college, and my ID card reflected the only middle name I ever knew. When friends saw it, they started calling me Agnes.

I was known for 4 years as “Ag”, and it was the inspiration for my internet presence and e-mail address that came much later.

I embraced my full name when I entered the professional world. Dorothy would be taken more seriously. And it seemed to work for me.

When I started creative writing, and later, this blog, I was certain to remain anonymous. If anything were to be published, it would not be done in my true name. It was mostly to protect my family’s privacy, and the tragedies of my birth family. It allowed me to be as candid and unfiltered in my writing as I desired.

foleyI turned to a comic figure for the name of my blog. The late Chris Farley brought his motivational speaker character, Matt Foley, from Chicago’s Second City theater group to Saturday Night Live.

His approach was to motivate young people to change their life, or they might end up like himself, thrice-divorced and living in a “van by the river.”

It is classic sketch comedy that I was proud to honor here, and in my “About” page.

I choose to keep my blog anonymous, at least for now. Some day that may all change.

Until then, please call me Van. ❀️



This entry was posted in Art, Books, Childhood, Entertainment, Family, Humor, Inspiration, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

123 Responses to Dorothy

  1. LaVagabonde says:

    Nice to meet you, Dorothy. πŸ™‚

  2. Fresh Waffles says:

    I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too. Muhuhahahahaaaaaaa πŸ˜…πŸ˜…

  3. Sue Vincent says:

    I wondered where your name had come from… there are so many stories in a name. Mine was supposed to be David…and I was vidently supposed to be a boy. Susan was the result of some rapid thinking on my mother’s part… I never liked it. My little brother David came along a few years late. πŸ˜‰

    • I get it. I was the 2nd daughter, father’s name was Frank, and he desperately wanted a son. When the next girl arrived, they called her Frances, just in case. His first son came next, but the Francis was already used. I sometimes wonder if everyone hates their given name ??? Susan was my best friend. ❀️

  4. Victo Dolore says:

    I knew about the Van story but it was nice to hear about your other “real” names. I hate my real first name, too. πŸ™‚

  5. Lovely story. I am known as Brigid Philomena as there is a Brigid in every house here!

  6. colinandray says:

    I was supposed to be a girl and so, upon my arrival, panic set in. Apparently my Dad picked up a copy of the BBC Radio Times (this was in 1946!), and scanned through it looking at names! He was a lover of classical music and noticed a Colin Yearsley (last name spelling uncertain) who was a classical pianist. That was it. Colin! My older sister had two first/Christian names, but I only ever had one. Perhaps Colin Yearsley only had one???

    • I would have loved being named after a musician, that’s a great story, Colin. I only had one at birth, another modified form of Dorothy when baptized. I guess, the official record only requires one name ? Thanks for sharing your story. πŸ’–

  7. Brenda says:

    I love your nickname. πŸ™‚

  8. lisakunk says:

    I have another blog that’s anonymous but doesn’t have much action as i share this one with Facebook and other social media and don’t do so with the other. How have you acquired such a following while keeping anonymity? Good job. Thanks for sharing this story.

    • I keep this blog as far away from Facebook as possible, Lisa. I came from a very small town, many are FB followers. I’ve no interest in expanding readership there. My blog is on a slow, steady pace, and my followers came mostly through comments, interaction with others. Thanks for asking. πŸ’› πŸ’™ πŸ’œ

  9. You are a blog superhero by the name of Van. With your cape and the letter V across your chest, you write with power and grace, oh and wisdom too with a hint of anonymity. Rock On!

  10. I was rather lucky to be named after the goddess of the moon! That worked for me πŸ™‚ However, for years and years and years I was just “Peach.” And it wasn’t until I entered the business world that Diana took over. It’s so interesting how important names are to the bearer – they have a certain power. Now and then I wondered about your name, Van. I have an Aunt Dorothea and have always loved the name and the person. ❀

  11. My given names were pulled out of a hat! Ha! ❀
    Diana xo

  12. kingmidget says:

    You’ll always be Van to me. πŸ˜‰

  13. George says:

    One of my favorite people was a woman I referred to as Aunt Dot. She wasn’t really my aunt but my mothers best friend. I didn’t realize until I was older that her really name was Dorothy. I never related it to Oz, I just liked her name.
    The history of names can sometimes be very interesting. Loved your story but I’ll respect your wishes and refer to you as Dorothy on here….oops…sorry…Van..:)

    • I’ll get you for that, George, and your little dog too !☺☺☺ As long as you comment, I’ll pretty much answer to anything. Nice to know you have good memories of another Dorothy. Thanks for sharing.

  14. I had wondered where the van by the river derived from. I despised my middle name growing up until just this year at 30 when I stumble across the names meaning by accident. πŸ˜‰

  15. Sadie's Nest says:

    I understand wanting a bit of anonymity, especially when we are so revealing of ourselves! No worries Van, your secret is safe with me πŸ˜‰

  16. TanGental says:

    I think Dotty Aggie suits you best, Van. Of maybe the rapper, DA Van, who could double as a Jamaican purveyor of all things smokeable. Infinite possibilities. Ms Dotage? This is FUN!

  17. I was going to be called Robert as both of my parents were convinced I was going to be a boy. I arrived without the necessary plumbing, and they had no girl’s name ready. Mum was reading a book about a girl and her horse. I’m glad I wasn’t named after the horse.

  18. I love this story Van .

  19. spearfruit says:

    Love the story, love the name – but you will always be Van to me! πŸ™‚

  20. Just Plain Ol' Vic says:

    Van it is. Mind if I park my trailer right by your van by the river?!

  21. Mandy Smith says:

    I so love why you chose Van as your blog name! I loved Chris Farley in that motivational speaker role. My multiple names, in real life and blog land, have been a pain in the neck at times πŸ™‚

    I thought we were of the same time period; I have to say, The Wizard of Oz was my favorite thing about Christmas time, too! I still have it in DVD and pull it out every now then, thought it’s not the same getting to watch whenever I want πŸ™‚

  22. markbialczak says:

    Van it is, Dorothy Agnes. You are who you tell us you are, my friend. ❀ I personally think Dorothy is a beautiful name. Agnes, well, she was patron saint of your Confirmation day. I picked Peter as my Confirmation name, by the way, after a great uncle who was so very nice to me always.

  23. Nurse Kelly says:

    Aww – my late mother-in-law was named Dorothy. I called her Dot. She was one of the most incredible people I ever knew. It sure does warm my heart to know that Dorothy is your name, my dear “Van.” xoxo

  24. amommasview says:

    Oh that makes it so much easier, Van!!! I will call you Van! xoxoxo

  25. Elyse says:

    Van, Van, bo bam … Yeah. That works!

  26. So cool to know your name xxx

  27. Confined to a bad girl boarding school I can appreciate the picking of Saints names. It was located on a beautiful piece of land with the Convent and two small chaplles..I was baptized Methodist, my parents didn’t attend services, I begged everyone in the neighborhood to let me go to church with them, I was 5 years old. I must have of had insight to the older me. I committed myself to the Catholic Church at 14 years old. I’m proud of my name Melinda Melody Mary Catherine (Swift) Sandor, what a mouthful. I had to wear uniforms, not the best look on a lanky teen who wore her hair in a pony tail on top of her head. The nuns were always telling me I looked so much better with it down, they didn’t have to show their hair.

    • I just came to understand why we call you M, that’s a lot of M’s right there. You embraced Catholicism, so did I, it was all I knew at the time. That changed, and part of me is sad about it. Boarding school ? You must have been a handful, M. Thanks for sharing. πŸ’–

  28. lbeth1950 says:

    There was a girl down the road from me named Dottie. It was her real name. Her parents had a houseful of kids and everyone had a nickname: Whimpy, Snake, Hambone. When Dottie came along, her mama just gave her the name Dottie so her daddy couldn’t shorten it. Dottie told me her parents used toilet paper for themselves and made the kids use waxed paper. Love that tale.

  29. I sign some of my posts with ” ~ van ~.” as it is the beginning of my last name (I am of Dutch heritage). But the title of my blog is my entire last name. When I realized that one of my relatives was commenting on my blog, it concerned me greatly, as I was worried what family would think, but her comments were positive, and there haven’t been any repercussions from the use of my last name. I recently thought about turning my blog name and my tag line around, but thought I would confuse to many of my readers.

  30. Ann Koplow says:

    A rose (or Dorothy or Agnes or Van) by any other name would smell as sweet. I’m so glad I’ve met sweet you on WordPress.

  31. So you’re not the witches Dorothy! What a blow this is, Van. Now we’ll never get back to Kansas.

  32. Ahdad says:

    I like this blog whether you call yourself Van. Or Dorothy. Or Agnes.

  33. Nice to meet you, Van! I do the very same thing over at Petals, writing under a name I chose in order to be ME and not associated with family etc. Amy is my “real” first name but I chose Rose, as it just “fit”. I actually have three names …. First, middle, and when I was confirmed, I took another name, the name of my sponsor. The name was also a saint’s name. So I have a mouthful if you want to include my married/single name. I like simplicity so I go by AmyRose, Amy for short. And yes when I publish, it will be under AmyRose. πŸ™‚ ❀ Good morning to you, dear friend!!! ❀

  34. stevetanham says:

    Love that, and now I understand the name ‘van by the river’.

  35. I think that for the boomers the Wizard of Oz is burned into our memories. It’s a truly great film. It’s great to find out that your name is Dorothy. I’ve always imagined you as a male: Van-by the River.

  36. Val Boyko says:

    I love catching up with this post and the comments Van. Great story. I was nearly Marjorie Ann …. No comment!!
    Personally I like names beginning with V.

  37. joey says:

    Groovy! Dorothy is a person you take seriously. Dorothy is not up for your crap and she’s reliable af. Dorothys give great advice. That’s just my own experience with Dorothys. Similar to Barbaras and Maggies, but not quite as silly.

    People always think I’m named after that ——— song. I’m not, I came first. The Gabor Sisters’ mother is something like Jzolyn or somethin and she was on a talk show one night and my parents were inspired. They were supposed to name me Michael Jolene and my grandmother threw a gigantic fit and that’s how I got stuck with this stupid name which people think is southern and sweet which is why I am called Joey. I loved my grandmother, may she RIP, but I still have a boy’s name so PPpTHHhhbbbbbt!

    Anyway, Dorothy is a great name πŸ™‚

    • I have a very dear and beautiful friend in Utah named Michael. She was treated differently in office correspondence, (worked in a construction management office), folks were always surprised to meet her in person. I just saw Miley perform Jolene with a Voice contestant. ☺ “please don’t take my man…” It, and you, a classic. Thanks, Joey.

  38. I like the name Dorothy. It’s such a steady name that belongs to people with a good head on their shoulders. Not so common too. I’ve only known a couple of Dorothy’s all my life and the are very smart, capable ladies πŸ™‚

  39. Now that Jackie mentions it, in my 55 years I’ve only known one other Dorothy with the exception of Judy Garland’s character in Oz. My friend Dorothy was such a nice person who was also extremely intelligent.

  40. My pleasure, it was an enjoyable read! πŸ™‚

  41. nimi naren says:

    What’s in a name? A lot…by the looks of it πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ

  42. writerinsoul says:

    I didn’t assume Van was your name but one time you told me it was and then I started using it…

    • I was caught off-guard at one point, and said the name was Vanessa. I didn’t think that was you, but you might have seen it ? Sorry to mislead. I was slow to reveal. ☺

      • writerinsoul says:

        I knew the Chris Farley skit (have I suggested you check out the documentary on him from last year? I remember commenting on John C’s blog about it this summer and not sure if you would have seen it) and just thought you were referencing that – until you said otherwise. (I remember stuff.) I *will* stop calling you Van! But you prefer Dot then? I’m confused!

      • No. Van is preferred. No need to change anything now. It’s a special blog identity and I kinda love it . I did see the Farley special last year. ☺

  43. C.E.Robinson says:

    Ahah, now I know! The name revealed! Even though my favorite aunt’s name was Dorothy, I think “Van by the River” is a very clever, catchy blog name. It suits you! My three names have history attached. So I get into the mood and character of the name, whether it’s legal docs, editing, or book writing. The Van pick over Dorothy must be attached to creativity! Your mind goes into a different mode! Love it, Van! πŸ’› Elizabeth (the book writer)

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