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HomeFeaturesEntertainmentMemories of Herb Caen and His Hilarious Aptronyms

Memories of Herb Caen and His Hilarious Aptronyms

By Sharon Challenger

(November 4, 2022)—Years ago when I lived in San Francisco, I would anxiously await the latest edition of The San Francisco Chronicle to read what humorist and columnist Herb Caen (1916 – 1997) had written.

Caen began writing a radio programming column with the Chronicle in 1936. When the column was discontinued in 1938 he proposed writing a daily column about the city titled “It’s News to Me.”

Herb Caen

It has been reported that he wrote six days a week until 1991, and he typed his column using only two fingers on a Royal typewriter.

Subjects he covered included celebrity sightings, inside news, one-liners, and lots of jokes. He especially loved writing about the ‘goings-on” in San Francisco.

One of my favorite features of his was titled “Namephreaks,” where he highlighted people whose names peculiarly matched their profession (aptronyms). Somewhere in my memory, I recall someone telling me he scanned through the Yellow Pages in phone books to find them. I have no idea if this is fact or fiction, but it sounded plausible.

Today, the Yellow Pages are a thing of the past, so I had to rely on the internet to find some that I think Caen would have enjoyed.

Get ready to groan…

Dr. R. Payne, DDS
Dr. P.S Docktor, MD
Tom Kitchen, Chef
Amy Freeze, Meteorologist
Dr. Nurse,  (his wife’s first name is Nurse, so her full name is…Nurse Nurse)
Jonathan Law, Attorney
Irvine Barber, Hair Stylist
Wake & Payne, Funeral Directors
Dr. Faris Atchoo, Internal Medicine
Sue H. Yoo, Attorney at Law
Dr. Biglaiser, Lasik Eye Surgeon
Dr. Needle & Dr. Fang, Dentists
Jonah Fisher, Whaler, UK
Marion Moon, Buzz Aldrin’s mother
Larry Speakes, Former Reagan spokesman
Miss Fiddle, Music Teacher
Dr. Bruno Fromage, Danone Ltd. Dairy products, UK
Daniel Snowman, Author: Frozen Future
Edmund Akenhead, Times Crossword Editor
Russel Brain, British Neurologist
Tiger Woods, Golfer
Thomas Crapper, Manufacturer of Victorian toilets

And with that…I’ll put a lid on it!

Photo in the Public Domain


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