in Personal History

By Any Other Name…

Denise writes:

If I remember correctly, you used to spell J.D. as Jay Dee. In fact, on your senior picture you signed your name Jay Dee. I found this interesting because I always thought is should be JD, as your name is John David.

So when did you make the switch from Jay Dee to J.D.?

When I as an infant, I was Bug.

When I was a young boy, I was David. (I still am David to my extended family, including Virginia and Tammy, and to friends who knew me only in grade school.)

During grades one through three, I was David at home and John David at school. There were multiple Johns in my classes (John Galen, John Kern, John Kyllo) and multiple Davids (David Sumpter, and another David whose last name I’ve forgotten). I became John David, and that suited me fine.

I was a squirrelly kid — no surprise there. One day in fourth grade I was squirreling away, not paying attention, and Mr. Zagyva was trying to get my attention.

“John David,” he said, but I didn’t hear.

“John David!” he said, but I didn’t hear.

Finally, he yelled, “J.D.!” and I heard, and I knew he was talking to me. From then on I was J.D. at school. I was still David at home for many years, but by high school I was J.D.

Signing my eighth grade yearbook at the end of the year, Mary Sanderson called me Jay Dee. I liked it. I adopted it, but slowly.

During high school, I called myself J.D. or Jay Dee, depending on with whom I was communicating. With Denise, and many of the other girls with which I was twitterpated, I called myself Jay Dee. I don’t know why, I just did. The Jay Dee thing died with graduation, though. It was just something I was trying on to see how it fit.

On the high school soccer team, I was Argyle, because I wore argyle socks to practice. It was my schtick.

In college, I was alternately J.D. and John, depending on the situation. I was J.D. to my friends and in informal situations, but I was often John with my professors and with the administration.

Today, I am J.D. to those who have any sort of relationship with me, whether it’s a business relationship, a friendship, or a family tie. (Even Tammy and Virginia have begun to come around, I think, though it makes me all warm inside when they call me David — they can call me whatever they want, actually.)

On official communications, or situations in which I don’t have a personal relationship with the people around me, I’m always John. I like the name. It’s simple and strong: John Roth. If I ever publish, it’s going to be as John Roth.

There are occasional instances of confusion. Andrew Parker calls me John, which bothered me at first. Now, I like it. Andrew can call me John. It feels odd, but right. Tom, the guy I work with at Quickstop Photo, calls me John, but we’re moving toward J.D., thanks in part, I think, to Mac.

Kris is Kris except when I am angry with her; then she becomes Kristina. When she was a girl, she was Tina. But, then, she didn’t really want you to know thatοΏ½


On 25 October 2003 (11:30 AM),
Mom (Sue) said:

Twitterpated . . . now there’s an expression I haven’t heard in quite a while! πŸ™‚ You’re working at Quick Stop Photo? Is this for Computer Resources or as a regular employee of theirs?

On 25 October 2003 (11:32 AM),
Mom (Sue) said:

BTW, you were named for a professor Steve had and admired at Goshen College. I have always really liked your name, as well as the names of my other sons.

On 25 October 2003 (11:36 AM),
Aimee Rose said:

J.D. …

During those long winter evenings, ages ago, Joel and I pondered, weak and weary, “What does J.D. stand for?” We’d known you almost a year, but did not know the significance of the initals [Something I’d always regretted, as I am overly sensitive about the spelling and pronounciation of my own name – Like Anne, I too can tell when my name is said with a “y” (Ew, the cursed, nasal “y”) – I was always ‘touched’ (not exactly the word that I’m looking for) that you remembered and called me by first two names, spelled correctly, of course. But, I digress …]. Naturally, Joel concluded that the initals must stand for Jackal Death, and of course, in our innermost hearts, each time we say J.D., we are secretly, affectionately saying “Fine afternoon isn’t it, Jackal Death?” and “I’ve enjoyed this Proust utterly, Jackal Death!” and “What say you to a game of Magic, Jackal Death?”


On 25 October 2003 (11:59 AM),
Mom (Sue) said:

My son John David just let me know that what he meant by his saying he was working with Quick Photo was that he was interacting with them, as in having develop his photos. (I just lost the e-mail as I tried to look at it again in my in-box to see exactly what he said, but that’s basically the meaning.) In the defense of my odd leap to the conclusion I came to, it seems that my sons are always involved in other work endeavors in addition to Custom Box Service, including J.D.’s work with Computer Resources, so that was where I went with it. Have photos developed at Quick Stop Photo? Why would anyone do that? -G- Seriously, I like Fred Meyer’s photo processing much better. But I do check Quick Stop photo now and again for scrapbooking supplies. πŸ™‚

On 25 October 2003 (03:02 PM),
tammy said:

For years I barely saw or knew my Uncle Steves boys. Now my Uncle Normans kids I knew very well. I’m sure this was due in part by the fact that Norms kids were my age. David, Jeff, and Tony were little kids who played with my little brothers.

I remember when David was just a young boy I went down to Canby and worked as a hired girl for Aunt Sue. I think it was only like a week or two. I’m sure Mom or Sue remember better.

All I remember of it is that the trailer was so hot. It was summer time. I also remember how picky Jeff was with his food and how all the boys rolled and tumbled around on the carpet in spite of the heat. It seemed like everyday David and his brothers would get in some sort of wrestling contest. I remember the orangish drapes that were always pulled against the heat.

Years later when we were all grown up somebody said something to me about jd. I had absolutely no idea who jd was.

As long as we were all kids at home we stayed in contact at least for Christmas. It was when we grew up and each went into the world to seek our fame and fortune that we all lost track of each other.

Now that we are aging, family has become as important to us as it was to our parents. It’s funny how you seemingly go through a time in life that relation and family really don’t matter so much. But let old age show it’s ugly face and we all start turning to our roots. Suddenly we find something lasting and comforting about knowing we all came from the same long line of descendants of Roths and Sharps.

We go to reunions that once we hated. Now we are the fat middle aged couples sitting around telling stories and trying frantically to preserve our heritage. We feel a rushing of time and with that rush comes the realization that we are writing history.

The last couple of years the Noah Roth cousins have begun to get together again between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And the last couple of years we have breathed new life into the dying Roth reunion at Zion Mennonite Church. The day has come to make our mark in the halls of time.

Today we are proud to be cousins. We give a nod of recognition to old age and in that nod we find David has become a middle aged man named jd.

Long live the Roths!!

On 25 October 2003 (04:15 PM),
Tiffany said:

I have had a few nick names over the years, but nothing ever stuck. Only a few friends even call me ‘Tiff’. I have always disliked my name, too formal, too blond cheer-leader, to stuck-up. I have often wondered what that means, when a person does not have a nick-name.

On 25 October 2003 (04:17 PM),
Nikchick said:

Unlike the rest of you, I never gave a thought about asking J.D. why he was J.D., but I do remember him getting testy with me when I wrote JD and not J.D. back in ’83 or ’84.

I honestly thought the Jay Dee (and jay dee) thing was just part of his e e cummings phase, where he was writing a lot of poetry without punctuation or capital letters. πŸ™‚

On 25 October 2003 (11:28 PM),
Virginia said:

“David” it shall be.

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