Friday, December 2, 2011

What's Your Name Little Girl?

When I was a kid, I went to Camp Robogey every summer. I didn’t even make up the name of that camp, though I may have invented the spelling.
They taught us lots and lots of camp songs, which we’d holler at the top of our lungs out in the field and on the bus. One of them was called, “What’s your name?” The boy was “Lemme Kissya”. The girl gave a variety of answers, depending on her mood. Such as “Ida Wanna” or “Wanna More”.
To me, having a variety of monikers was not unusual. In our household, we all had nicknames. Admittedly, I was the one who gave out the names, so I guess it’s more honestly to say that everyone was called something different depending on my mood. Beanaball, Dursky, Wild Cherry, Facey…they all meant something at the time. One of my sisters still suffers under the name I called her nearly fifty years ago: Leedalo. (It’s a long story.)
For me, Catherine meant my parents were not very pleased with me. Which occurred fairly often, since I was the eldest and a spoiled brat. Catherine Lynne was even worse because my mom or dad was taking the time to say the first and second, usually in a rather loud voice.
I was therefore Cathy. To my friends, my family, and to my parents when I was behaving. At school. In the yearbooks. In the newspaper, when I wrote for the Press Club, or got my picture taken with the high school field hockey team.
When I got married, the woman always took her husband’s name. So I did and now I had a different last name. Then I got married again. Repeat. Then I got married again. Kept both that time. (No comments, please, on my former serial marriages. That’s for another blog—maybe.)
Cathy This, Cathy That, Cathy ThatNow, Cathy Now. Mr. Now called me Katy, so I added that to the list.
Still not Catherine.
Until my books came along. Catherine, after all, is my legal name. Catherine Astolfo to be specific (having dropped That in common usage). So that’s how my books got published: The Bridgeman, by Catherine Astolfo; Victim, by Catherine Astolfo (
BUT, my different names habit continued and I unknowingly made it very difficult for people to find my books. My blog, I call Katy’s Words ( My website, I call My email uses both:
People who are my readers (and sometimes my friends) call me Catherine. It still makes me shiver. But it’s better than having them ask, “What’s your name, old girl?”


leslie said...

serial marriages eh !! Dare I say (at the risk of offending anyone...) you saved the best for last !!! and you will always be Cathy to me !!

Leslie Kathleen

Alison E. Bruce said...

We sang that song at Guide Camp! We also exchanged those wellworn titles like "Rusty Bedsprings" by I.P. Nightly.

I always wanted a nickname. I was always Alison or Alison Wonderland. I didn't consider my family nickname of Lally as counting since my friends didn't use it. Except for Ali, though, I don't like diminutives on my name. Call me "Al" or "Alice" at your peril.

Now here's somethng I've always wondered about. You can spell Catherine Katherine, and Cathy Kathy, but no one uses Caty.

Cathy Astolfo said...

LOL I remember those titles, too, Ali. How about "The Milky Way" by Buster Tit? "The Open Kimono" by Seymor Hairs? Anyway... My granddaughter is Catey - long for Cate, which we fashioned after Cate Blanchett - and short for Catherine, after me of course. I shall have to think up a nickname for you other than Ali.

Cathy Astolfo said...

I agree with you completely, Leslie! Third time's the charm.