The Baby Name Buff: Places I’ve Lived–Newport News

As you can see from the other blog posts in this series, I have lived a lot of places in my life. But now, after years of transience, our family is settling down in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. We moved to Newport News this past June, and we are still getting to know the area. But I’ve already discovered some pretty interesting baby name possibilities related to our new home. So, please enjoy these names inspired by the final destination in this blog series–Newport News, VA!

Aberdeen Gardens is a neighborhood in Newport News that I haven’t been to yet. But I love the girls’ name Aberdeen (AAH-ber-deen) for its association with the city of the same name in Scotland. This name also has a similar sound to the last name of the title character in The Hunger Games, and I like that connection too. Possible nicknames include (any of the spellings of) Abby, Birdie or Bertie, Dee, and Dean.


Newport News is a coastal area, so there are plenty of beaches to choose from. The only one Kyle, Felix, and I have been to so far is Buckroe Beach, a quiet, family-friendly beach that is only a 1/2 hour from home. As a boys’ name, Buckroe (BUCK-row) has a bit of a hipster feel along the lines of a name like Roscoe. Buck, Bucky, or Ro would all be cool nicknames.

Carver is another neighborhood in Newport News that I haven’t been to yet and thus don’t have a particular association with. But Carver (CAR-ver) strikes me as a really cool boys’ name that would be a fresh alternative to the wildly popular name Carter (#24 on the 2018 U.S. boys’ top 1,000). I like Carr or Vern as possible nicknames for Carver.

Because Newport News is near / on the Chesapeake Bay, there are so many things in this area with the name Chesapeake in them. As a girls’ name, Chesapeake (CHESS-uh-peek) would be a tough sell for me personally as a first name, but I actually really like it as a middle name. For those who would consider this name as a first name, Chessa would be a very pretty nickname.


Denbigh is a neighborhood in northern Newport News. So far, there are only two things I know about this area: 1) there was recently a fatal shooting there, and 2) the DMV is there.  Those are obviously both very bad associations. Even so, Denbigh (Den-bee) is an absolutely adorable boys’ name, so maybe it could work well if you’re not from the Newport News area. Denn, Denny, and BB are all really sweet nickname possibilities.

Newport News is a big military town. In fact, over the last four months, whenever we have told people that we had just moved here, every single person, without fail, asked us “you military”? (Close–academics.) I believe there are several military bases around here, but Fort Eustis is perhaps the most prominent. Because Eustis (YOU-stiss) reminds me of Eustace, I tend to think of this as a girls’ name.

Grafton is a town north of Newport News. This is another place I haven’t visited yet but plan to. I love Graff as a nickname for the boys’ name Grafton (GRAFF-tin).


Hampton is the city just south of Newport News, between us and Norfolk / VA Beach. Hampton is the home of the aforementioned Buckroe Beach, as well as many other great attractions. The boys’ name Hampton (HAM-tin) has a sophisticated feel without being overly stuffy.

The Hilton neighborhood of Newport News is touted by many as the best place in town to live. So, of course, Kyle and I had to drive around there and see what all the fuss is about.We were expecting really nice, new homes with some space between neighbors. Instead, we found some very old houses right on top of one another, and there was way too much stucco going on for my tastes. The streets were also really small, so only one car could drive down a lane at a time. So…not really my cup of tea, but to each their own! As a boys’ name, Hilton (HILL-tin)–like Hampton–has a high-class aura about it.

There are two main roads in Newport News from which everything else is an offshoot: Jefferson Avenue and Warwick Boulevard. It sadly took me forever to realize that Jefferson Avenue was probably named for Thomas Jefferson; I just kept thinking about the TV show The Jeffersons. Also,whenever I drive down Jefferson (which is every day), I get the song “Oh, Virginia” by Blessid Union of Souls stuck in my head, since that song is about the Hampton Roads region and has a line that begins “down the road on Jefferson…” The boys’ name Jefferson (JEFF-er-sin) has always been in the U.S. top 1,000, but it lingers between about 400-700, making it a more unique option than its more common counterpart, Jeffrey (which peaked at #9 in 1966).

Another military base in town is Langley Air Force Base. I haven’t been to Langley yet myself, though my colleagues at my workplace–Fear 2 Freedom–recently did an event at the NASA location at Langley. The boys’ name Langley (LANG-lee) seems very trendy to me, so I was surprised that it has never been in the U.S. top 1,000. I love Lang as a nickname, though the more traditional name Lee could work as well.

One attraction in Newport News that I’ve been really wanting to check out is the Mariner’s Museum. But I’ve included the boys’ name Mariner (MARE-in-er) on this list not only because of the museum but because, in general, the town of Newport News is coastal, so Mariner makes sense. And trust me–these people really want you to know that they are nautical AF; it’s like the whole town is one long “Under the Sea” prom night or something. Part of me thinks this is cute; part of me thinks it is a little tacky.

The central icon of Newport News’s seafaring ambiance is Captain Christopher Newport. I have heard conflicting things about whether this figure is historical or mythical. Either way, the town of Newport News itself is named for this man. And, of course, Kyle’s workplace–Christopher Newport University–is an even more direct homage to the Cap. As a boys’ name, Newport (NEW-port) strikes me as spunky and cute but also a name that would age well on an adult human.

Phoebus is a part of town in Hampton. I haven’t been there, but it looks really close to Hampton University, so I’m sure I will visit at some point. And, I don’t know why, but I have always loved the boys’ name Phoebus (FEE-biss)–so cute!

Like Grafton, Seaford is another town north (and, in this case, also a bit east) of Newport News. I’ve heard Seaford is a little more rural, so it is somewhere I definitely want to visit (and maybe even consider as a potential place to eventually buy a home, since it isn’t extremely far from Newport News, and since I’m a country gal at heart). Seaford (SEE-ferd) is a unique boys’ name, and I like Ford for a nickname.

As mentioned above, Warwick Blvd. is one of two main streets is Newport News. Both my and Kyle’s workplaces are on Warwick. As a boys’ name, Warwick (WAR-wick) would be an especially great pick if you’re a huge Dionne Warwick fan. And though Warren would be an obvious nickname option, I actually really like Wick too.

Photo credit: Boston Public Library

The Baby Name Buff: Places I’ve Lived–Urbana, IL

As a fast-talking, quick-walking East-coast girl, born and bred, I never thought I would enjoy living in middle America. But spending a few years living in Kyle’s hometown of Champaign, Illinois definitely changed my mind! Together, the sister cities of Champaign and Urbana have a population of about 100,000 people and house the main campus of the University of Illinois. Because of the U of I, the C-U area is bursting with cultural amenities and fantastic food. And yet, C-U still somehow has a small-town feel, relaxing life pace, and almost no traffic. Add to that the beautiful, open fields and ocean-bowl sky that you get to see every time you drive just outside the city, and it becomes clear that the C-U area has so much more to offer than outsiders could possibly realize.

C-U also has much to offer in the way of baby names! Check out some of these great options inspired by my favorite Midwestern town and its surrounding areas.  


For obvious reasons, the American Midwest is not particularly known for its hiking opportunities. But, since hiking is my favorite leisure activity, I made sure to find and frequent the few great hiking spots near C-U. One of my top picks is Allerton Park, known not only for its gorgeous hiking trails but for its many sculptures and other unique landmarks throughout the park, including the Sunsinger sculpture (my fav), the Centaur sculpture, and the Fu dogs (Kyle’s fav). As a boys’ name, Allerton (Al-er-tin) has a sophisticated feel and many nickname options. 

One of my favorite in-town hiking spots in C-U is Busey Woods at the Anita Purves Nature Center. But while I like the sound of the boys’ name Busey (Byoo-see), the prevalence of Busey Bank throughout the Midwest could make this a strange choice. Also, this name will probably put people in mind of Gary Busey, one of the weirdest actors out there. But, if a kind of quirky name is what you’re going for, then perhaps Busey will fit the bill. I like Beau as a possible nickname option.

While many of Kyle’s most formative educational experiences took place prior to high school, during his time at Countryside School, Kyle also shares many great memories from his 9th – 12th grade years at Centennial High School. In particular, Centennial apparently has a world-class speech program, which is what led Kyle to petition for entry into this high school in the first place rather than attend the school for which he was originally zoned. As a boys’ name, Centennial (Sen-ten-ee-uhl) might initially seem a bit much. But everyone hopes their kid will live at least 100 years, so this name could be appropriate.  

Devonshire Drive is the lovely, tree-lined street where Kyle’s childhood home resides. In addition to Kyle’s own lifetime of positive memories of this place, I myself have had so many great times on this street: camping out in backyard tree fort on my first visit to Kyle’s home, regular Sunday dinners with Kyle’s parents during the years we lived in C-U, putting up the Snowflake Arch at Christmastime…the list goes on! As a boys’ name, Devonshire (Devin-shire) has a distinguished and decidedly-English feel. And while Devon is the obvious nickname, Evan, Vaugh, and Shire (my favorite) are other great nickname options.

If I could move one thing from the C-U area to our new home in Newport News, it would be…Kyle’s parents! But if I could move a second thing, it would be…our friends Matt and Susan (and their adorable son, Gideon). BUT, if I could move a THIRD thing, it would definitely be… Jarlings Custard Cup!!! This local gem has been serving delicious, homemade custard since 1983. But if you don’t believe me about how amazing this place is, perhaps you’ll listen to Custard Cup’s most famous admirer—Tom Hanks! One of Hanks’s brothers is a Professor at the U of I; when Jarling’s almost closed a couple years back because the proprietors were retiring, Hanks tweeted his sadness about the situation. Luckily, a group of investors from the U of I bought Custard Cup, and it is still alive and thriving to this day. As a possible baby name, Jarling (Jar-ling) could work for a boy or a girl. For a girl, I like Arli as a nickname. For a boy, I like Arlin. But Ling and (goodness forbid) Jar Jar are other possible options.

Meadowbrook Park is by far my favorite in-town park in the C-U area. One of this park’s distinguishing features is that it is a permanent art walk, with dozens of sculptures around the grounds. Meadowbrook is also a great place to view wildlife in the city. Kyle and I have seen quail, deer, rabbits, ten million red-winged blackbirds, a crayfish, turkeys, adorable wooly-bears, and many other animals on our walks around Meadowbrook. The girls’ name Meadow (Med-oh) is a bit more popular in the U.S. than most names I feature on this blog, and its increased use continues to this day; as of 2018, it was the #516 girls’ name.

Mira is a tiny, “unincorporated community” within Urbana. I can’t even find a listed population for this place, and I only ever knew about it because there’s a random sign for it on the corner of two pretty rural cross streets just at the edge of town. Like the girls’ name Meadow, Mira (Meer-uh) is a bit more common than most names featured on this blog and continues to rise in popularity; it was #465 on the U.S. top girls’ name list in 2018. For this reason, I prefer a variant spelling of this name—Meara—a name previously discussed on my SNL edition blog post this past April.

While Morrissey Park doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of Meadowbrook Park, it is still a favorite of mine because it is within walking distance of Kyle’s house. I’ve enjoyed many rousing sessions of tennis at this park, where I repeatedly got my ass completely handed to me by both Kyle and his dad. The boys’ name Morrissey (More-iss-ee) has a very strong hipster vibe, most likely because of the obvious association with the lead singer from The Smiths.  And the nickname Morris is just adorable.

During our years in the C-U area, Kyle and I lived at two different places: one on Cureton Drive and one on Pond Street. These two places were only a few blocks from one another and shared the same main cross street: Mumford. Like Morrissey, the boys’ name Mumford (Mum-ferd) has a musical association to the band Mumford and Sons, another hipster-ish group. Ford would be a fun and quirky nickname.

Like I noted earlier in this blog, Champaign and Urbana are (contiguous) sister cities. But what I did not know when I first moved to the C-U area is that there is another small town that bleeds right into C-U: Savoy! The first time I heard about it from Kyle, I don’t know why, but I thought of it as this kind of mystical, Atlantis-like place that I didn’t know actually existed. And while it turns out Savoy is actually just another run-of-the-mill suburban locale, we definitely spent some good times there—shopping at Goodwill, going to the movies, eating at the cool local donut shop, or even roller-skating at the roller rink. (Yes, roller rink—look it up, millennials!) Savoy (Suh-voy) strikes me as a nice gender-neutral name option.

Bonus Names

Cureton (Cure-uh-ton)
Fisher (Fish-er)
Hessel (Hess-uhl)
Leverett (Lev-er-et)
Mattis (Mad-iss)
Monticello (Mont-ih-sell-oh OR Mont-ih-chell-o)
Ogden (Og-din)
Pennfield (Penn-field)
Philo (Phy-lo)
Porgy (Por-gee)
Robeson (Roe-bih-sin)
Tolono (Tuh-loh-no)
Tuscola (Tus-coe-luh)
Urbana (Uhr-ban-uh)
Vermillion (Ver-mill-yon)

Photo credit: Raymond Cunningham

The Baby Name Buff: Places I’ve Lived–Prescott, AZ

After Kyle finished his doctorate degree in 2013, and until he got a tenure-track teaching position, we were free to move somewhere else if we wanted to do so. We thus moved out west to Prescott, AZ for a high school teaching job I had been offered. The teaching job did not pan out (long story!), so we sadly only spent one month in Prescott. Even so, this town was one of the cutest, most beautiful places I’ve ever been to, and I look forward to hopefully going back there again someday on vacation.

Here are ten names inspired by the Prescott, AZ area:

The boys’ name Bradshaw (Brad-shaw) has a fun and sporty vibe. Possible nicknames: Brad, Addis, and Shaw.

In the month we lived in Prescott, Kyle and I took advantage of the many wonderful in-town hiking trails. One of our favorites was the Brownlow Trail at Pioneer Park. As a boys’ name, Brownlow (Brown-low) joins a host of names ending in -low, such as Winslow, Marlow, and Barlow.

The small town of Black Canyon City lies about midway between Prescott and the Phoenix metro area. Since nature names are trending hard right now, I’ve actually seen the gender-neutral name Canyon (Can-yin) floating around a bit on the baby name boards I frequent, though mostly as a middle name rather than a first name.

Another small town outside Prescott is Dewey-Humboldt, one of the only hyphenated town names I’ve ever seen. According to Nameberry, Dewey (Do-ee) is a Welsh boys’ name meaning “beloved.” And, since Dewey is a variation of David, this name is a terrific option for those who want a unique name but also want to honor someone in their family with the commonplace name David.

One of the campuses of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is located in Prescott. This campus is actually where I had the start of my teacher training. It is also the location where I met my first (but certainly not my last) wild tarantula! The gender-neutral name Embry (Em-bree) is a nice alternative to other popular names with a similar sound and feel, such as Emily, Emory, Emmy, Ember, and Embric.

The second part of the aforementioned town Dewey-Humboldt, this is a name I feel a little lukewarm about. While Humboldt (Hum-bolt) is definitely unique, it sounds a bit too much like “humbug” to me. Also, while I originally thought Bolt was a kind of cool nickname, I think I know in my heart of hearts that Bolt is really more of a dog name than a human name.

Paxton (Pax-tin) was one of my top-ten boys’ name picks when naming my own son. But this name is now also gaining popularity as a girls’ name. Paxton means “peace town,” and I love Pax as a short and sweet nickname.

I like that the stately boys’ name Piedmont (Peed-mont) also has the cutesy nickname option of Monty. The obvious trouble with this name, though, is that it starts with the sound “pee” / “peed.” (Let’s face it: kids can be cruel, and they are also obsessed with bodily functions…) If you’re worried about that connection, perhaps the variant Piermont would work nicely.

Though the name of this town in Arizona is pronounced Press-kit, I prefer the traditional pronunciation for this preppy boys’ name: Press-cot.

Another boys’ name with an aristocratic air to it, Stanton (Stan-tin) strikes me as a unique but slightly more mainstream choice than another name I’ve discussed on this blog before: Scranton. Stan or Anton are nickname choices.

Photo credit: Kevin Dooley

The Baby Name Buff: Places I’ve Lived–Maryland / D.C. Area

After I got my B.A. in English from Marywood, I went to graduate school at University of Maryland in College Park, MD (just outside of Washington, D.C). Getting my M.A. opened many doors for me and helped me get experience teaching college students, a job role I loved. And, on a personal level, my time at UMD led me to many of the dearest friends that I know I’ll have for a lifetime, including my wonderful husband, Kyle.

Even though I was only a student at UMD for two years, I spent six years in the MD / D.C. while Kyle completed his PhD. As such, I got to know this area really well and have so many great memories from a variety of locations in this region.

Here are some of my favorite names inspired by my time in Maryland.

For the majority of my time in MD, I lived in the city of Greenbelt. One of my favorite places to go there was Lake Artemesia, a park with a lovely lakeside walking trail. The girls’ name Artemesia (Art-uh-mee-shuh) is a long, beautiful name with lots of cute nickname options, like Artie, Emma, Mia, or Sia.

As one of the world’s biggest David Bowie fans, I was so excited the first time I drove past a sign for the town of Bowie. Imagine my disappointment when I learned that the town is actually pronounced Boo-ee! But, for the purposes of using Bowie as a (boys’ or girls’) name, I’m going to pronounce it like the singer (Bow-ee).

Dupont (Do-pont) Circle is one of the most hipster areas of D.C., as I already covered in my previous blog post about baby names inspired by beer.

As noted above, I lived in Greenbelt for the majority of my time in MD. And while Green might seem like a stretch for a baby name, Blue has become pretty popular as a name, so why not Green? Green is also my favorite color, so perhaps I’m a little biased.

Hyattsville was one of the places I went often, particularly because it had a decent movie theater and several good restaurants. Hyatt (Hi-it) is kind of a fun alternative to the wildly-popular boys’ name Wyatt.

During my first year in Maryland, I rented a room in a house in a town called Lanham. Stories of “the Lanham House” are notorious among me and my friends Matt (former roomie at Lanham House) and Erin, in large part because the landlords were kind of weird, lurky, racist and sexist old people who loved getting up in our business. As a baby name, Lanham (Lan-um) has a posh feel and could work well for a boy or girl.

In addition to teaching at UMD, I also got to teach at Prince George’s Community College (PGCC), located in Largo, MD. Another thing I loved that was also in Largo was my favorite grocery store of all time, Wegmans! I actually really love the name Largo (Lar-go), for a boy or a girl.

There were several libraries on the huge, sprawling UMD campus. But the main library was McKeldin Library (shown in the featured picture for this blog), a place I spent A LOT of time in during my time as a student and teacher at UMD. As a (gender-neutral) name, McKeldin (Muh-kell-din) joins a long line of Mc names. And I love so many of the nickname options, though Mickey and Kell are probably my favs.

I have many ties to Silver Spring, MD. First, I drove through it every day on my way to work for the three years I worked in D.C. Second, Kyle’s Buddhist temple in MD was in Silver Spring. And third, my friend Lauren and her family still reside there. Another great, gender-neutral name, Silver has both a peaceful / hippy feel and a tough, badass feel all at the same time.

Tawes Hall was the really nice, brand-new building that the English Department moved to while I was a student at UMD. This new location was a major upgrade from the English Department’s previous home in Susquehanna Hall, where 70s-style decor was thriving and where all grad students who were teaching had their “offices” in a single, open space called “the bullpen.” Tawes (Toz) could work well for a boy or girl, though I tend to think of it as a boys’ name for some reason.

And here are many more fantastic MD / DC-inspired names:

Photo credit: carmichaellibrary 

The Baby Name Buff: Places I’ve Lived–Oceanside, CA

After my semester of isolation at Kutztown, I decided I needed a drastic change. At the time, my Aunt Grace, Uncle Al, and cousins Brooklyn and Anthony lived in California. So, I dropped out of college, packed up my stuff, and moved to CA. One of the best parts of this move was actually the drive out. My Uncle Rich drove with me, and that road trip–especially our stop at the Grand Canyon–was one of the most fun, memorable times of my life!

In CA, I lived in Oceanside, a beach town a bit north of San Diego. I lived with my family for a couple of months before getting a job and my own apartment. I spent a ton of time at the beach, since I only lived a mile away from the ocean. (I mean, the town is called Oceanside for a reason!). And I reveled in the opportunity to spend some time getting to know my CA family better.

I was in Oceanside for a year, and my brother Johnny actually came and lived with me for the last few months of my time there. This was an interesting period in my life; by striking out on my own, I began to learn how to take care of myself and started understanding a bit more about who I am. I consider this year of my life to have been a time of great personal progress and discovery.

Please enjoy these names inspired by my year of life on the West coast!

Spanish for “pretty,” Bonita (Bow-nee-tuh) has a lovely sound and several great nickname possibilities, like Bonnie, Ona, or Nita.

While living in CA, I worked at a beautiful resort called La Costa Resort and Spa, located in Carlsbad. Carl or Arlin are possible nicknames.

I’ve been kind of obsessed with the name Diego (Dee-ay-go) lately. Not sure why, but there it is.

In Spanish, Encinitas (En-sih-nee-tiss) means “little oaks.” Encinitas was one of the most quaint little beach towns I’ve ever seen, and it has some of my favorite restaurants in the area. I really like Cini or Sidney as nickname choices.

Meaning “plateau” or “table,” Mesa (May-suh) would be a really cute girls’ name, specially as a middle name.

Inspired by the town I lived in, Oceanside, the name Ocean has long been popular with hippies and other nature-loving parents. Even so, this name has yet to break into the U.S. top 1,000.

Oceanside is a military town (Marines), and the base in Oceanside is called Camp Pendleton. I love any name that can have the nickname Penn.

If I was being objective, I would have left Ramona (Ruh-mo-nuh) off this list, since it is far too well-known a name to be considered “truly unique.” But I just adore the name, so here it sits. (Ramona was high on my baby name list before we knew we were having a boy, but Kyle never liked it, so it would have gotten the axe eventually…)

This is probably my favorite name on this list. Not only does Solana (So-la-nuh) sound lovely, but I adore the meaning too: “sunshine.” Sola or Lana are great nickname options.

Vista (Vis-tuh) is another name with both a lovely sound and a pretty meaning (“view”). I like Vi as a nickname for Vista.

The Baby Name Buff: Places I’ve Lived–Kutztown, PA

My path to getting my undergraduate degree was pretty convoluted. I switched majors three times and transferred four times (between three schools). I’ve already written a bit about my time at University of Miami and Marywood University. The third college I attended–for a single semester–was Kutztown University in Kutztown, PA. This time in my life was a very lonely one. I didn’t make a single friend at Kutztown, and I didn’t get out much. As such, I don’t have any personal connections to the area. Nevertheless, the Kutztown region did produce some great possible baby names, listed below.


Photo credit: the_great_nanners

The Baby Name Buff: Places I’ve Lived – Scranton

After I came home from Miami, I lived for a short time with my Mom in Factoryville, PA. But that little old town is in Wyoming County, a location I’ve already covered in my previous blog post about Tunkhannock, PA. I then moved from Factoryville to Scranton. (Yes, Scranton like on The Office.) More specifically, I resided in South Side and roomed in a nice, big house with many of my guy friends from high school. At some point, I moved to California for a year (blog to follow about names based on that location), and when I returned, I became roommates with my sister in a couple of different locations in Scranton as well. So, today’s blog features baby names inspired by Scranton and other locations in Lackawanna County and other nearby counties in PA.  

Blakely is one of many rural-ish towns to the northeast of Scranton. And while the name Blakely (Blake-lee) might seem uncommon to those not in the naming game, it is actually a very trendy girls’ name that was at #250 in 2018. Blake, Lake, Kell, or Kelly are some nickname options.

I love the boys’ name Cortez (Cor-tez)! I was surprised to find this Spanish-named town in rural PA, just east of Blakely. I was even more shocked to find that Cortez has been in the U.S. boys’ top 1,000 fairly consistently from 1972 to 2013. If you like more unique nicknames, I think Taz would be a really cute option. If you prefer more traditional nicknames for unique first names, Corey would work well.  

I’ve driven past Dalton millions of times on my many treks from Tunkhannock to Scranton. Locals know that the most notable Dalton landmark when driving this route is the Dalton Do-It Center, a home-improvement store whose name not only welcomes but basically requires bawdy parody.  The boys’ name Dalton (Doll-tin) has always been in the U.S. top 1,000, having peaked in 1999 at #85. I like this name a lot, not only because it sounds cool, but because my friend Paula has a sweet and adorable son who bears this name. Also, my Mom is moving very soon to a lovely, rural area of Dalton, so I’ll soon be spending lots of time over the next many years visiting my Mom in this town.

Right next to Scranton, Dickson City is your typical commercial area with a mall, tons of restaurants, lots of big box stores, and many strip malls to boot. While I really like the boys’ name Dickson (Dick-sin), I prefer the Dixon spelling.

Dunmore is a suburb right next to Scranton, and this town is very close to the part of Scranton where I went to undergrad at Marywood University. I also almost lived in Dunmore in 2015, but then my husband got a job in Illinois, so we moved there instead. (So, look out for an Illinois “Places I’ve Lived” blog post in the future!) I really like Dunn as a nickname for the boys’ name Dunmore (Dunn-more), though Maury would be another obvious option.  

I was a little torn about including the boys’ name Forge (pronounced as it is spelled) on this list. On the one hand, no one can deny that Forge is a really badass and completely uncommon name. On the other hand, I find the one thing Old Forge is known for—it’s unique brand of “pizza,”—to be a gross abomination. But, just as not everyone loves the same type of names, I suppose not everyone loves the same kind of pizza…if Old Forge pizza even qualifies as actual pizza (which it does not).

Apparently there’s a town called Harmony Hills just outside Moscow, PA. I have never heard of nor been to this place, but since Harmony (Har-muh-nee)is one of my top-ten favorite girls’ names, I was psyched to see this town on the list of places in the Scranton area.


When my sister and I were roommates, we lived in two different places in Scranton. One was in an amazing apartment in the Hills Section of Scranton, on Clay Avenue. The other was in a somewhat dilapidated, stand-alone house on Keiser Ave. (No one local to Scranton ever seems to say Keiser Avenue; they always shorten it to just Keiser Ave.—not sure why.) Though I’ve seen the boys’ name Keiser (Ky-zer) cropping up more and more on the baby name boards I frequent, this name has never been in the U.S. top 1,000. Kai is a short-and-sweet nickname option for Keiser.  

Like Harmony Hills (above), I’m actually not personally familiar with Maple Lake, located just southeast of Scranton. But I adore the girls’ name Maple (pronounced like the leaf)! It is a sweet and unique alternative to the mainstream girls’ name Mabel, a name I also like. And while Maple is often discussed on baby name groups, it has not been in the U.S. top 1,000 since 1902 (#957). Though Maple is already a short name, May / Mae is a cute, succinct nickname possibility.

When my Mom used to rent a lovely house in Falls, PA, I would often drive through Newton Township on my way to visit her. Though the name Newton is slightly tainted by Fig Newtons (gross!) and Newt Gingrich (gross!), it has been somewhat redeemed by the adorkable character of Newt Scamander from the Harry Potter universe. And I personally have a special place in my heart for the name Newton (with the nickname Newt) because I had a series of dreams when I was younger where my beloved nephew, Nate, was in the form of a Newt; thus, my nickname for him was Baby Newt.   

And Some Bonus Names:

Photo credit: Fransisco Antunes