And speaking of nicknames…

May 15, 2023 | 0 comments

Charlie, 1974

Perhaps you’ve already read Cate Gable’s “Coast Chronicles” column which will be out in print on Wednesday.  Right now, you can find it online by googling chinook observer coast chronicles the indomitable Pat Akehurst.  It’s a fun article about a wonderful woman who came to the Peninsula in the seventies and who remembers it all — the people, the places, the views and vistas, the jobs she had and the paintings she made.  She is remarkable and, if you have been here for even half that long, you will find yourself nodding about things you lost sight of long ago.

Writing Partners Gordon Bressack and Charles Howell with their first (of many) Emmys

For me, it was Pat’s fond memories of my son Charlie.  “He just shimmered,” she said!  I knew he would do something wonderful with his life!”  Just the words any mom wants to hear — especially when it has turned out to be true!

But… she remembered him as Quad or Quaddie.  That surprised me because, indeed, that was his nickname, but I thought that he became “Charlie” under the rather gimlet eye of Miss Blewitt, his Kindergarten teacher in Castro Valley, California.  By the time Pat met him, he was in high school and I can’t imagine that my mother (who Pat also remembered) was still calling him “Quad.”

He was named Charles Morgan Howell, IV after his dad and since his dad went by “Morgan” and his grandfather Howell was called “Chick,” we somehow connected the IV with the Latin for four and he became “Quad.”  Besides, he was born on May 30th of my Junior year and he and I spent many hours in and around the Stanford Quad (short for Quadrangle) during his first year.  It’s where he took his first steps.

Sydney and Quaddie in the Stanford Quad, 1957

It was such a delight that Pat remembered “Quad.”  I must remember to ask Charlie just how long Granny (and maybe Grandpa) called him by that name and how he felt about it.  (I never did have a nickname except for the butcher at the  corner grocery in Alameda who always called me “Syd, Syd, the Chinese Kid” which I didn’t get at all.)

Come to think of it, my father often called me “Syd” — but somehow I never really thought of that as a nickname.  I wonder if that’s how Charlie felt about Granny calling him “Quad.”

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