On the Lighter Side: Nicknames

Joe Guilbeau

A nickname is a descriptive name given instead of or in addition to the actual name of a person, place or thing.

To illustrate the Cajun passion for nicknames, the following is a partial list – all first-cousins, my cousins:

Ti-Will … Ti-Moon … Ti-Mae … Tee-Tee … Tee-Louie … Sue-Sue … Lo-Lo … Noo-Noon … Do-Do … To-Pea … Pou-Chot … Toot .. .Poone … Pa-Poone … Bay-Bay … Boo-Key … Ta-Too … Boo-Boose … Boosey … La-Soeur … Maque-Choux … La-Tit … Elvie … Chink … Ca-Belle … Chou-Key and, yes “Good Looking.”

Many of these nicknames are on tombstones.

Joe Guilbeau

Many of my first cousins were very successful and worked for national companies.

Ned Guilbeau was state president of the Future Farmers of America. Ca-Belle was a Louisiana State Representative for eight years, while two cousins became successful homebuilders. Maque Choux was chairman of the Lafayette Municipal Airport Board, Boo-Boose became general manager of a large regional wholesale plumbing company and he also performed on the Grand Ole Opry.

Nicknames of three first-cousin brothers:

--Wilbert “Crapaud” for “toad.”

--Leroy “L” Autre

--“Crapaud,” the other toad.

--Nelson “Ti Crapaud,” the little toad.

Common names lend themselves to nicknames: Tom for Thomas, Ed for Edward, Jim for James, Bill for William, Gene for Eugene, Bob for Robert, Al for Albert, Chuck for Charles, while James Robert became “Jim Bob,” Elizabeth became Beth, and Amanda became Mandy.

My district manager and regional director were traveling on a dark road on a dark night when suddenly an animal ran across the road. One thought it was a cat, and another thought it was a rabbit, so they coined it “cat-rats.” That nickname survived in the company vocabulary for years.

After World War II, the French-speaking Cajuns had a hard time with a new word: Mausoleum. It became “Mussolini.” On the street, you would hear “Mr. Boudreaux died and they will bury him in the Mussolini.” Nelson, my cousin I mentioned earlier in this column, was in the South Pacific when his father (my uncle) died. When he came home two weeks later, a member of the funeral home went to the mausoleum with him and let him see his daddy. These were different times.