Archived Story

Ellendale folks know John Wayne well

Published 9:18am Friday, November 4, 2011

Column: Between the Corn Rows

I can truthfully say I once knew John Wayne. No, it isn’t the one with the stage name who was in a long list of western and war films that are still being shown on cable television channels. This other John Wayne once lived in a nearby community. And here’s a prime example of two people with the same name.

The John Wayne I knew grew up with that name and lived in Ellendale until he died on March 20, 2008. He was a very nice gentleman. The other John Wayne was, in reality, originally known as Marion Robert Morrison and was not born in Waterloo, Iowa. Despite an announcement to that fact made a few months ago, this other John Wayne was born in Winterset, Iowa, which is about 130 miles to the southwest of Waterloo. The Hollywood version with the assumed name died on June 11, 1979.

Once in a while, just for the heck of it, I’ll tell folks I once knew Ralph Waldo Emerson. In fact I grew up in a home next to his residence, The usual reaction is usually “so what.” However, anyone with any sense of history could easily question my knowing a man who actually died in 1882.

I might add right here that this other Ralph Waldo Emerson of the Boston area was a man who became fairly famous for being a essayist, lecturer and poet.

So far no one has ever questioned my knowing Ralph Waldo Emerson. If they ever did, I could honestly say he was my great-uncle who had the same name and lived all his life in or near Baker, Ore. This member of the Emerson family was a foreman in foundry and died in 1947.

There’s no indication my great-grandfather Emerson, who grew up in Maryland, ever met his distant relative who lived in Massachusetts. Yet, he gave his second son the name of the fairly famous relative as either a joke or as a special family salute.

One factor that results in people with identical names is with a father and son with the same first, middle and last names. The distinguishing way to indicate which is which comes with the senior and junior designations.

In Albert Lea’s past there were three men named William Morin. In this situation the three were a father, son and grandson. Yet, there wasn’t a senior, junior or III. What made each name somewhat different was with the middle name given to each of these men with the William Morin name.

Sometimes people with the same name are related, and sometimes they aren’t. Here’s one example.

Several years ago I was on a photo assignment in a nearby rural area. Part of the project involved going out into a large corn field. A man said I could go with him in his pickup. During our trip he introduced himself. He happened to have a name I was familiar with, but he wasn’t the person I served with in the U.S. Army. Yet, he was from the same Iowa town.

I soon found out the two men with the same name were second cousins and lived on the same street just a few homes apart in a nearby town. And a situation like this can create some confusion for the mail delivery person and for other folks.

Please notice how I avoided the sexist term of mailman.

Now let’s shift the focus of this column to the bonus addition.


Cornstalk comment

What Zach Lind and other folks have done with the Eddie Cochran Memorial near the corner of East Front Street and Frank Avenue is a really great improvement to this part of the city. This particular plaque on a rock is still in the part of the city because Eddie grew up in this former neighborhood.

Yet, several years ago an Eddie fan told me the Cochran home should have been preserved as maybe a shrine or something. Despite the fact that an urban renewal project resulted in the removal of this and many other homes in what was once called the Charles Street area years ago, he seemed to feel this one home was absolutely worth preserving.

Oh well, different strokes for really different folks.


With just three exceptions, Ed Shannon’s column has been appearing in the Tribune every Friday since December 1984.