|My Name Is Edward|
My name is Edward, and I’m the son of E. Clarke Quackenbush of electronics fame.
Quackenbush may be a mirth-provoking name, but it’s far from rare. According to a study of the 2000 census, Quackenbush is the 9,094th most common name in the US. It’s at the 70% level, meaning that 30% of the people in the US have names that are less common than ours. In 1965 there were five Quackenbushes on the faculty and staff at the University of Michigan.
There are characters named Quackenbush in Forrest Gump and A Separate Peace.
Bill Quackenbush played for the Detroit Red Wings for as long as he played for Boston. In 1949 he won the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly conduct and sportsmanship. He’s also in the hockey Hall of Fame. His brother Max played pro hockey for nine years, mostly in the minor leagues in Canada, but he played for Boston 50-51 and Chicago 51-52.
After Chuck Quackenbush was drummed out of his job as in California, he and his wife Chris moved to Hawaii. Chris quickly got involved in a small way in Hawaii politics, heading a group that got our Draconian laws on pet quarantine relaxed a bit. I’m the only Quackenbush in the Oahu phone book, and since the Chuck Quackenbushes have an unlisted phone, for about six months after they arrived, we were plagued with calls for Chris. Needless to say, I was also asked the inevitable question a few times.
In 1959 some scumbag named Quackenbush working for the US military near Tokyo was an abusive husband and father of two kids. He was “forced into early retirement” by one or more members of his family, who buried his body in the backyard. The crime was discovered, and I happened to be in Japan when the trial ended. The wife and the son claimed that the daughter had done it, and since she was too young to be prosecuted under Japanese law, the wife was charged and convicted of desecration of a human body, sentence suspended. It was front-page news, and naturally everyone I met asked the inevitable question.
Until I read it Quackenbush.com, I had never heard the story about A Day at the Races .A few years ago a column in the Atlanta Constitution by Tom Teepen mentioned A Day at the Races and then accused some local politician of belonging to the “Quackenbush school of political ethics.” I wrote him a letter suggesting that he get his facts straight, but of course I never heard from him.
Once while in grad school I took a lit course from a well-known and eccentric professor named Austin Warren. He took attendance only once each semester and always made a big production of it, commenting at length on a few of the names. It was a large class, and the last name in the P’s was a drop-dead beautiful young woman from Jamaica who looked like Halle Berry. Her name was Quandra Prettyman. The one time when Prof. Warren took the roll in that class, he waxed eloquent about her name for a good ten minutes. Then he raised his voice and bellowed out “Edward Quackenbush,” and 200 voices erupted in laughter! In later years I twice ran into people who had been there and recalled the incident.